The United Kingdom (UK) has withdrawn from the European Union (EU) effectively on 31 January 2020. As of that date, the agreed transitional period expired on 31 December 2020.

In this blog we explore the social security implications triggered by Brexit as of 1 January 2021 for cross-border situations and international assignments.

Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement (SCRA)

This agreement was concluded between the UK and Switzerland (CH), is effectively in place as of 1 January 2021 and replaces the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between CH and the EU (AFMP) which no longer applies to relations between CH and the UK.

The SCRA governs the withdrawal of the UK from the AFMP and safeguards the rights of persons who acquired them prior the transition period ending on 31 December 2020. The SCRA maintains the rights arising from the social security coordination: regulations No 883/2004 and No 987/2009 of the AFMP.

What do you need to consider?

  • For individuals being in a cross-border / international assignment situation between the two countries prior to 1 January 2021, the EU regulations 883/2004 and 987/8009 continue to apply, as long as the individual’s situation continues uninterrupted.
  • A1 certificates issued prior 31 December 2020 are valid until expiration date, or extensions can be applied (within the periods stipulated under the regulations No 883/2004 or No 987/2009) for the duration of the cross-border situation.
  • A1 Multistate certificates continue to be valid and can be extended, provided the cross-border situation continues uninterrupted.
  • In case an A1 certificate has not been applied for a cross-border situation that started prior to 1 January 2021, a retroactive application for A1 certificate under the regulation No 883/2004 is possible.
  • Health insurance: continues to be guaranteed and the rights linked to an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are maintained (e.g. tourism or students). However, in order to assert the protection of rights in practice, a specific Provisional Replacement Certificate must be requested from the CH health insurer.
  • Pensioners and individuals receiving benefits regulated under the EU regulation No 883/2004, continue to be protected under the EU regulation, if rights were acquired prior 31 December 2020.
  • If a person is no longer on a cross-border / international assignment situation, the regulations No 883/2004 and No 987/2009 continues to apply if they have the right to work or reside in the other signatory State. An example of these could be a CH national who continues to work in the UK at the end of their posting or those who will stop working in the UK, however, continue to reside there.

Interim agreement between UK and Switzerland “Bilateral Agreement from 1968”: applicable for cross-border situations and assignments as of 1 January 2021

In order to protect the rights of the new cross-border cases starting as of 1 January 2021, CH and the UK have agreed to put back in place, as an interim agreement, the old social security bilateral agreement signed in 1968. Since CH and the UK are currently negotiating a new agreement, the bilateral agreement signed in 1968 is foreseen to be a temporary regulation.

What you need to know about the temporary agreement

  • The old bilateral agreement foresees Certificate of Coverages (CoC) for posted workers for a period of 24 months, irrespective of their nationality. Extensions up to 60 months are possible (upon agreement of both authorities).
  • The old bilateral agreement does not have rules for multistate workers. Generally, persons to whom the legislation of both contracting states is applicable, shall pay contributions to the insurance of each contracting state on the income earned in the territory of that contracting state. In other words, this means that a split between the workdays in each country would apply. This provision only applies to either UK or CH citizens
  • The old bilateral agreement does not foresee any employer obligations in CH for individuals with a foreign employer. Therefore, for the commonly known ANobAG (Arbeitnehmer ohne beitragspflichtigen Arbeitgeber), the individual has to register and settle social security contributions him/herself, and no obligations for the UK employer apply.

New Bilateral Agreement between CH and the UK

  • It is expected to enter in force in 2021. From a CH perspective, it is expected that where possible, the new bilateral agreement will follow to a possible extend the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) ; however, it is to be expected that it contains variations, e.g. regarding a limited duration of assignment, or applicable allowances (e.g. family allowances).

Brexit and COVID-19

  • The SCRA guarantees that health care should be provided on a nondiscriminatory basis. However, in order to assert the protection of rights in practice and have access to ongoing medical treatments in the other country, a specific Provisional Replacement Certificate must be requested from the CH health insurer.
  • Individuals that are protected under the SCRA, continue to be protected under the SCRA if the work pattern has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the flexible approach that the CH authorities apply until 30 June 2021. For more details under the Swiss Flexible Interpretation, please refer to our blog: Swiss social security: What to expect in 2021

Further information to these topics can be found here: