Due to the current coronavirus outbreak, many companies around the EU/EFTA are advising their employees to work from home if possible. This brings up the question of possible unintended effects of such a directive for cross-border workers, in particular, if this situation could lead to a change in applicable social security legislation from the country of work to the country of residence.
The good news is home office work due to the coronavirus outbreak should not change the applicable social security affiliation within the EU/EFTA.
The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic as of 11 March 2020. Due to the current situation, many companies have advised their employees to work from home.
What does this mean:
For many employees this means working primarily in their country of residence for the duration of the outbreak.
Art. 13 section 1 of the EU regulation 883/04 determines applicable social security affiliation for a person who is normally working in two or more member states and states that :
- If an employee is working in the country of residence for more than 25% of his/her time he/she will be subject to the legislation of that country.
- If the employee works less than 25% in the country of residence and has one employer he/she will be subject to the legislation of the country where the employer has its seat.
When determining whether a cross-border worker needs to be affiliated to the social security system of their country of residence, factors such as work pattern as well as whether the employer expects that the home office is the “normal” place of work for 25% of working time.
Under a strict interpretation of the above rules, employer imposed home office due to COVID-19 could mean that social security affiliation would suddenly switch for a large group of cross-border workers for this year.
Working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak cannot be a considered as a “normal” work pattern organised by one’s employer. Therefore, employer imposed home office working due to the outbreak should not trigger a change in social security affiliation to a cross-border workers country of residence.
Based on recent discussions the Swiss federal authorities share our view.