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Due to the corona pandemic, telecommuting from abroad has increased in popularity. The phenomenon is bound to stay. The Finnish Centre for Pensions handles A1 certificate applications for telecommuting abroad in the same way as for posted workers. In both cases, social security should be arranged well ahead.

When Finns go abroad to telecommute, they are subject to the same rules as those working abroad as posted workers. For example, in EU countries, the social security of workers is determined under the EU Regulation on social security based on the phycial place of work. The social security determines to which country the statutory social insurance contributions are to be paid, or from which country the worker will receive social security benefits.

“Many have seen this long period of telecommuting as a chance to go abroad. However, workers and employers are not always aware of all the things required for insuring work abroad,” says senior adviser Marjaana Lundqvist (Finnish Centre for Pensions).

If a worker goes anywhere abroad to work but wants to continue to be covered by Finnish social security, the worker must apply for an A1 certificate for posted workers. Without the certificate, the employer may be obliged to take out insurance in the country of work and the worker may not get Finnish social security benefits. When the Finnish Centre for Pensions issues an A1 certificate, the social security contributions for the worker are to continue to be paid to Finland. The worker then gets benefits from Finland and accrues an earnings-related pension to Finland. In other words, it matters whether you telecommute in Finland or, for example, Italy.

Telecommuting brings new types of challenges to insuring work abroad

Since telecommuting from abroad has become more popular and postings abroad have changed, applications for the A1 certificate have piled up. The work has increased and become more challenging also due to late or missing applications.

In some cases, the employer has been totally unaware of the worker going abroad. In such cases, no application for an A1 certificate has been submitted  and the employer may suddenly have been obligated to pay insurance contributions abroad. This rule applies even if the employer has been unaware of the worker going abroad. The employer is always under obligation to pay the insurance contributions.

“These situation are tricky to sort out. Correcting paid contributions in retrospect may be difficult or even impossible, particularly if the worker has been telecommuting from abroad for a long time,” Lundqvist explains.

Agreement on telecommuting between employer and worker important

Challenging situations may arise particularly if it is revealed that the worker has telecommuted from abroad only after they have become ill or suffered from an injury. Without the A1 certificate, the worker is covered by the social security of the country in which they work. That means that the level of health care and accident insurance they get is determined by the rules of the country from which they have telecommuted.

“Because it is a complicated and challenging matter, some Finnish employers have had to tighten their policy on telecommuting from abroad. It may no longer be possible for workers to telecommute from abroad unless there is a clear need for it.”

In other words, telecommuting from abroad on the worker’s initiative may not always be allowed.

“We tell employers and workers to agree on telecommuting from abroad in advance in order to avoid unclear situations and surprises,” Lundqvist concludes.

Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions