BREXIT: A1's with UK - status update

With everything COVID-19 related going on it has been easy to take the eye off the ball on Brexit. The end of the transition period is fast approaching and whilst we all hope a "deal" will be reached we cannot be sure. So what happens in the meantime with requests for A1-documents for assignments or simultaneous employment that go beyond the end of the transition period?

A reminder on the general principles:

Social security rules applying to cross-border workers between the UK and European Union (EU) remain unchanged through the transition period - since the UK officially left the EU on January 31, 2020 until December 31, 2020. 

For ongoing situations (‘unchanged’ and ‘without interruption’) beyond the transition period, the Regulation 883/2004 (and the A1 certificates issued based hereon) should still be utilised between the UK and the EU Member States. For the cross-border work situations starting from 1 January 2021, we will have to await the outcome of current negotiations.

What is the current position on the issuance of A1 certificates for such ‘ongoing situations’? 

Based on our contacts with the Belgian social security authorities, the following should be considered:

For ongoing UK inbound assignments, i.e. which started before 1 January 2021 and continue after 1 January 2021, the Belgian authorities are of the opinion that, based on the withdrawal agreement, it is in principle still possible for UK inbound assignees to remain subject to the home UK social security scheme, insofar all conditions of EU Regulation 883/2004 are fulfilled and the situation (residence, work, employer, etc.) remains unchanged.

However, for administrative purposes, they are currently not agreeing to cover UK inbound assignees whose assignment starts before 1 January 2021 and continues after this date under article 16 of Regulation n°883/2004. The Belgian social security authorities currently only agree for periods up to 31 December 2020 (i.e. the end of the transition period).  Upon a governmental decision, this restriction will be lifted, but they are awaiting outcome of negotiations and further clarifications on what should be considered as ongoing situations. This administrative restriction also applies to any requests for outbound A1-applications.

Further, the Belgian authorities informed us that for new UK inbound assignees as from 1 January 2021 either:

  • A bilateral agreement between Belgium and the UK or a multilateral agreement between the EU and the UK will have to be reached (including similar provisions as foreseen in EU Regulation n°883/2004), based on which UK inbound assignees can remain subject to their home UK social security scheme; or
  • In absence of such agreement, UK inbound assignees will in principle be considered to be third country nationals and domestic legislation will apply (not necessarily triggering Belgian social security though).