As things stand, the social security of persons moving within the European Union (EU) is governed by specific EU legislation protecting the social security entitlements of EU citizens. Consequently, EU citizens are at all times subject to the legislation of a single member state and therefore they pay social security or national insurance contributions in that country only.
These principles also apply to British citizens working or residing in Belgium, and will continue to apply to them until the UK leaves the EU, i.e. until the end of the extension of the article 50 process.
Exactly how social security will be arranged from that time on is something that will depend on any agreement which might yet be reached between the EU and the UK.
Situation in the event of a deal
The text of the withdrawal agreement as negotiated between the EU and the UK provides for two periods:
- up to and including 31 December 2020: a transitional period during which, even though the UK is no longer a member state of the EU, EU social security law remains fully in force in the UK. In other words, the situation of Belgian citizens residing in the UK will not change.
- From 1 January 2021 onwards: EU social security law will no longer be applicable to the UK. Some social security entitlements (including secondment) will, however, be guaranteed for those British and EU citizens who have been making use of the free movement of persons prior to 31 December 2020. Arrangements have yet to be made to cover secondments initiated after that date.
Situation in the event of no deal
In the event of no deal, the social security entitlements of British citizens in Belgium and Belgian citizens in the UK will still remain unaffected. To ensure this, the Belgian Federal Government has approved a bill that will keep the existing social security arrangements unaffected until 31 December 2020, to honour the principle of reciprocity between Belgium and the UK.
There are two possible situations that can arise:
- Secondment of an employee, or self-employed person from the UK to Belgium
The employee or self-employed person who is being seconded will remain subject to UK employment law only. In this situation, you should consult the competent British authorities. Belgium will honour the secondment statements (detacheringsattest or attestation de détachement) that you provide and will not charge double social security payments for the worker(s).
- Secondment of an employee, or self-employed person from Belgium to the UK
The employee or self-employed person who is being seconded will remain subject to Belgian employment law only. The current Belgian rules on secondment and social security contributions will remain applicable to such workers.