Social security coordination within the EU/EEA/ Switzerland
Although there is no single European social security system, the EU has set common provisions in the field of social protection. These include the coordination of national social security schemes without seeking to harmonise the national regulations. The EU law has laid down common rules and principles to be observed by national local authorities and social security institutions that do not replace but complement the social security provisions of Member States.
All countries are free to decide who is to be insured under their legislation, which benefits are granted and under what conditions. The EU provides common rules to protect your social security rights when moving within Europe (EU 28 + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
- nationals of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who are or have been insured in one of these countries, and their family members
- stateless persons or refugees residing in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, who are or have been insured in one of these countries, and their family members
- nationals of non-EU countries, legally residing in the territory of the EU, who have moved between these countries, and their family members
- A person is covered by the legislation of one country at a time so he/she only pays contributions in one country. The decision on which country’s legislation applies will be made by the social security institutions. You cannot choose.
- A mobile person has the same rights and obligations as the nationals of the country where he/she is covered. This is known as the principle of equal treatment or non‑discrimination.
- When somebody claims a benefit, previous periods of insurance, work or residence in other countries are taken into account, if necessary.
- If a person is entitled to a cash benefit from one country, he/she may generally receive it even if he/she is living in a different country. This is known as the principle of exportability.
One of the main innovations introduced by the regulations is the obligation for countries to only exchange social security information by electronic means (Art. 4 Regulation 987/2009). A system providing a common secure framework is being set up: the EESSI system (Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information). It is expected to play a major role in facilitating the cooperation between institutions and leading to a better enforcement of the rights of the citizens, e.g. benefits being granted in a speedier way.
Cross‑border exchange of information between responsible institutions is crucial for executing the social security rights of a migrant worker. The Slovak Republic participates in the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) and supplied this database with the relevant data. Three national Access Points for the exchange of social security information in their respective fields of competence were appointed: the Social Insurance Agency in Slovakia; the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family; and the Healthcare Surveillance Authority.
The so‑called Structured Electronic Documents (SED) will make the communication of data between institutions more efficient and easier within the EESSI. Most data will be exchanged directly between social security institutions. Paper E‑forms will no longer be necessary, but in certain cases, a migrant worker will need a 'portable document (PD)' A1 to certify his/her situation when moving. A portable document is usually issued by his/her social security institution upon his/her/employer’s request. It is recommended to request it before leaving. However, if the migrant worker does not have the institution in the country where he/she is moving, the necessary data can be obtained directly from the institution where the person is insured.
A migrant worker may present his/her claims, letters and certificates in his/her mother tongue, if it is amongst the official languages of the EU, whenever he/she considers it necessary or appropriate. This might delay the decision on his/her claim, but it may help him/her express him/herself clearly and avoid misunderstandings.
When a university, a research organisation or a company posts a worker to a different Member State, i.e. sends him/her to another Member State to perform work, the worker shall continue to be subject to the legislation of the Member State of origin, provided that the anticipated duration of work does not exceed two years. An example of posting could be a research stay longer than 1 month but not exceeding 2 years at a hosting research organisation in another Member State, while the researcher remains officially employed by the organisation in the country of origin.
To be officially certified of the applicability of home social insurance scheme, a portable document A1 should be issued before the posting by the competent social insurance institution of home country upon request of the employer. In exceptional cases, period of posting can be extended beyond the two‑year limit.
In a case of a worker carrying out work in more than one Member State, he/she shall remain subject to a single legislation only, i.e. it is necessary to determine the applicable legislation among several states of occupation by the A1 form. The A1 form shall be issued by the social insurance institution in a worker’s home country. Consequently, the contributions to the social insurance from all states where the occupational activity is performed will go only to one of the states.
For more information on common provisions safeguarding social security when being mobile throughout the Member States see the website of the European Commission.