Brexit

Exit of the United Kingdom from the EU and its Impact on the Employment of British Citizens in the Czech Republic and Social Security of People Moving between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom

On 29 October this year, EU leaders approved the UK request to extend the deadline for UK withdrawal from the EU until 31 January 2020. In case of an earlier ratification by the British Parliament, the agreement shall enter into force on the first day of the month following ratification. The earliest possible date of the UK's withdrawal is now hypothetically December 1, 2019.

At present, the adoption of the so-called withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU seems very likely. However, the situation still depends on the final word of the House of Commons of the British Parliament. Regardless the final result, the Czech Republic is ready for both possible scenarios, i.e.:

  1. Upon the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, an exit agreement will apply, thus the rights of the citizens concerned (both Czech and British) will be maintained in this respect, or
  2. The UK leaves the EU without agreement. For this scenario, the Czech Republic, specifically the MoLSA, has prepared an emergency plan, including legislation, to preserve citizens' rights. The emergency plan will temporarily ensure that UK citizens can stay in the Czech Republic and continue their employment. Similarly, Czech citizens do not have to worry about losing their social security entitlements due to their previous employment in the United Kingdom.

In view of the still unclear outcome of the UK's exit from the EU, and in order to ensure that the rights of the persons concerned are smoothly safeguarded, it is recommended to persons concerned that some inter-action be taken, namely:

  • Due to Brexit, UK citizens will become third-country nationals. We therefore recommend to those who qualify for permanent residence in the Czech Republic that they should apply for it. By acquiring permanent residence in the Czech Republic, the citizens of the UK will have a comparable position with the citizens of the Czech Republic, in particular with respect to their position on the labour market and social security entitlements related to residence.

  • Third-country nationals, in this case UK citizens, who move within the EU, can benefit from the protection provided by the European rules on the protection of the social entitlements of migrants under defined conditions (Regulation No. 1231/2010 of the European Parliament and the Council). If UK citizens residing in the Czech Republic after Brexit have a connection to an EU member state (because they formerly worked in that country, their family members live there, etc.), it is necessary that they inform the respective Czech institution to address this issue in a decision making process while solving their social security entitlements (the UK citizen’s participation in insurance or requests for benefits).

More details on the UK Brexit scenarios:

  1. Situation in the event of the finalisation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

    In the period immediately after Brexit there will be no changes. The Agreement creates a transition period until the end of 2020 during which the access to the labour market and social security will proceed in the same way as if the UK was still a member of the EU.

    UK citizens who start working in the Czech Republic from January 1, 2021, will require an employment permit in the same way as any citizens of other third countries.

    After this date, only the rights related to the period when the UK was a member of the EU shall be protected - i.e. the persons who have been living in an EU country will be allowed to have the protection of their rights. But new cases and claims for benefits after December 31, 2020 shall be regulated only by the national regulations of the Czech Republic. In the transition period, the future relationship agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom should be concluded which is assumed to include the protection of social entitlements, however, we cannot speculate on the wording of such an agreement.

  2. Situation in the case of Brexit without agreement

    UK citizens and family members access to the labour market

    The UK citizens and family members, whose employment started under the Czech Labour Code at the latest on the day immediately before the date of Brexit, shall have the possibility to continue to work in the Czech Republic without any work authorization till the end of 2020. Consequently, by December 31, 2020 at the latest, they shall have the obligation to obtain the relevant work authorization (employee card, blue card, and employee transfer card, work permit) in order to be allowed to continue to work after December 31, 2020.

    Those UK citizens and their family members who are interested in starting to work in the Czech Republic after Brexit, shall comply with the Employment Act, i.e. they will have to obtain work authorization for the performance of work in the Czech Republic (employee card, blue card, employee transfer card, work permit). Only those who fall into one of the categories of foreigners mentioned in Section 98 and 98a of the Employment Act (e.g. foreigners with permanent residence) shall have free access to the labour market.

    The work permit shall be issued by the Labour Office of the Czech Republic. Other types of authorization are issued by the Ministry of the Interior.

Maintenance of social security entitlements

Considering that it is currently unclear how the communication with the UK authorities will be carried out in assessing entitlement to individual benefits from the Czech social system, it is advisable to keep all records of employment, in particular, the overviews of all periods of insurance issued by the local institutions, or other similar documents (e.g. PD U1 document which contains data all periods of insurance and it is issued for unemployment benefit purposes).

  1. Health insurance is under the authority of the Ministry of Health - information on Brexit http://www.mzcr.cz/Unie/obsah/brexit_3919_8.html

  2. Sickness insurance

    For UK citizens or persons with another connection to the UK affiliating to sickness insurance scheme in the Czech Republic nothing changes at the moment of Brexit; their participation in sickness and pension insurance scheme and any claims arising from such insurance shall continue to be fulfilled under the conditions set by law.

    Any entitlements to sickness insurance benefits by insured persons who were for a certain period of time insured in the UK before the Brexit date shall be taken into account by the Czech institutions (practically this is only considered for persons requesting maternity benefit).

  3. Pension insurance

    For UK citizens or persons with other connections to the UK participating in pension insurance in the Czech Republic nothing changes at the moment of Brexit; their participation in pension insurance and any claims arising from such insurance shall continue to be fulfilled under the conditions set by law. Taking into account that, according to the Act on Organization and Implementation of Social Security, retirement benefits are provided abroad, the Czech Republic shall continue to pay pensions to the UK.

    For the purpose of assessing the entitlement to pension insurance benefits from the Czech Republic, periods acquired in the UK before the Brexit date shall be taken into account. This process shall be followed also for applications submitted after this date.

  4. Unemployment benefits

    For the purposes of assessing the entitlement to Czech unemployment benefit of the persons who had a certain period of insurance in the UK before the Brexit date, the period in the UK shall also be taken into account by the Czech institution.

  5. State social support benefits

    If a British citizen (either within or outside the Czech Republic) or a Czech citizen living in the United Kingdom received state social support benefits before the Brexit date, this benefit shall be retained and the payments shall continue even after Brexit.

    Applications submitted after Brexit in cases involving the UK shall be solely considered under Czech national legislation which requires the fulfilment of residence conditions in the territory of the state for 365 days. The benefits are not paid abroad. For the UK citizens living in the Czech Republic, the period of residence in the Czech Republic before the Brexit date shall be taken into account and if necessary also periods of residence in the UK shall be taken into account (in respect of persons who were subject to Czech legislation or another member state at the time of Brexit).

  6. Care allowance

    If a British citizen (either within or outside the Czech Republic) or a Czech citizen living in the United Kingdom received care allowance before the Brexit date, this benefit shall be retained and the payment shall continue even after Brexit. Applications of UK citizens submitted after Brexit shall be solely considered under the Czech national legislation which requires the fulfilment of residence conditions in the territory of the state and the benefits will not be paid abroad.

  7. Material need benefits

    As a condition of entitlement to these benefits, the citizens of other countries must have their permanent residence in the Czech Republic. The specific status only applies to EU citizens. Therefore, in the case of applications submitted after the Brexit date, the UK citizens shall be required to prove their eligibility for such benefits by compliance with the permanent residence condition.