Working in Europe on a temporary basis

The idea of what it is to be an expatriate is not exclusively synonymous with permanent relocation abroad. You can therefore define the international expat community as being heterogeneous, made up of three major groups.
This includes those who have set up home for the long-term, those who are based in a non-native country temporarily, and finally, those that hop from one country to another, the growing contingent of ‘nomadic professionals’.
For those individuals who are moving to Europe on a temporary basis – in this instance, one of the 27 members states and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – it pays to be aware of the specific conditions that apply to them when it comes to social security benefits (otherwise known as National Insurance in the UK).
The concept of social security is important, intrinsic as it is to the concept of a democratic government and the state’s responsibility to provide welfare to its citizens. It is even enshrined in the seminal document that was made following the Second World War, otherwise known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 22 thus reads: “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realisation, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organisation and resources of each state, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
This guide will help to explain how such a right and entitlement can be maintained for those moving overseas on a temporary basis, outlining the specific conditions that apply.
According to the European Union (EU), professionals who are sent abroad to an EU country like France, Spain, Germany or Cyprus are still entitled to the social security benefits of their home country, so long as any tenure is less than two years. They’re still covered.
Along with sorting out details like selling or renting a property, organising storage for belongings and hiring an international moving company to help ship belongings abroad, British professionals are advised to acquire an A1 form from their employer.
This is important on two counts. In the first instance, it authorises individuals and their dependants to remain covered in their country of origin while working abroad. In the second instance, it is a useful document that shows a professional already pays social contributions in another EU country.
The latter is particularly important if individuals are queried as to why they are not, for example, paying similar contributions in the country they are based in.
Naturally, in some instances, things change and it becomes apparent that the posting abroad will extend beyond the two years. There is, of course, recourse as one would expect in such circumstances. Should such a situation arise, with the notion of it still being a temporary move, a person’s employer can request an exemption.
What this means is that an expat will still be covered by the social security system back home for the rest of their stay, as it will have been identified that it is not a permanent posting. The European Union does state, however, that these kinds of exemptions will vary from country to country and “require the agreement of the relevant authorities”. Note: an exemption is only valid for a “defined period of time”.
Finally, professionals working in a foreign country are still entitled to the same employee benefits, protections and rights as their colleagues back home. This includes, not exclusively, maximum working and minimum resting periods, minimum paid annual leave, the same health and safety cover and pay that is no less than the local minimum wage.
The great thing about working within the EU is that it is organised in such a way as to make movement from one country to another as seamless as possible, governments appreciating that a flexible, multinational workforce – Eurocentric – is a great asset and an effective way of stimulating and diversifying their respective economies.
It also encourages more companies to consider extending their business abroad and expanding their workforce beyond the borders in which they have historically operated. For employees, the temporary jaunt abroad can significantly boost their personal and professional life, with the added comfort being they are still able to be appropriately covered.
If circumstances change, then brilliant, there are mechanisms that allow expats to convert to a permanent residency abroad. If professionals are happy to return home, then equally, that isn’t a problem, very little has to change. The less disruption, the better the experience – that’s all people want.
British professionals looking for assistance with their belongings when relocating abroad should consider enlisting the services of Cadogan Tate, which excels in international shipping.