Teleworking in the fight against Covid-19

26 March 2020

In order to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, the government has taken far-reaching measures to facilitate 'social distancing'. As in most Member States of the European Union, the working population (both employees and self-employed workers) is encouraged to make maximum use of telework.

Problem

The increased use of telework may have an impact on the applicable social security scheme for employees and self-employed workers in a cross-border employment situation or in the case of ‘posting’.

According to the European reference rules, the applicable social security scheme for employees and self-employed workers working simultaneously in different Member States is largely determined by whether or not they have "substantial activities" in their country of residence (i.e. at least 25% of their working time and/or remuneration). The increased frequency of telework could thus potentially lead to the application of the social security system of another Member State.

For example, this would be the case for an employee living in Belgium and working in the Netherlands. He normally works 80% of his time in the Netherlands (4 days a week) and 20% at home in Belgium (1 day a week). This employee is therefore subject to the Dutch social security system. Due to the corona crisis, this employee is now teleworking all week in Belgium. This new distribution of time means he exceeds the threshold of 25% of his working time in the country of residence (Belgium). The exercise of a substantial activity in Belgium means, in principle, that he will become subject to Belgian social security.

 

Government decision

In view of the exceptional circumstances, it has been decided that the periods of telework performed on Belgian territory solely as a result of COVID-19 by employees who habitually work cross-border will not be taken into account when determining the applicable social security legislation.

The same exception is made for posted workers who are blocked and therefore stay in the country of temporary employment for longer than the initially agreed duration, as well as for people who were supposed to start an activity on Belgian territory, but who are temporarily forced to work from their country of residence.

No formalities are required from either the employer or the employee. It is not necessary to report the changed work organisation to the NSSO, and the A1 certificates already issued will remain valid. However, the NSSO advises to sufficiently document this exceptional situation (written agreement, instructions by e-mail, etc.).

This decision is valid in Belgium from 13 March 2020 until the end of the exceptional measures (currently imposed until 5 April 2020). Thereafter, the situation will have to be rectified quickly. 

A similar policy seems to be in place in other Member States such as Luxembourg, France, Germany and Denmark.

Warning: this general measure does not cover situations involving third countries outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland. For these situations, the NSSO recommends contacting the Direction of International Relations, which will deal with the files on a case by case basis.

 

Limosa declaration

Finally, it was decided that there is no need to make a Limosa declaration for workers who habitually work in another Member State and who are now working from home in Belgium as a result of the emergency measures taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, it has been confirmed that Limosa declarations which have already been carried out but for which the place of employment does not correspond to the current place of teleworking should not be changed.


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