Social insurance for Poles employed abroad


The Act of 13 October 1998 on the social insurance system imposes an obligation to pay contributions to them, inter alia, from natural persons in the territory of the Republic of Poland:

  • employees (excluding prosecutors),

  • people who do homework,

  • persons who perform work on the basis of a civil contract, contract of mandate or other contract for the provision of services to which the provisions of the Civil Code relating to the mandate apply, as well as persons cooperating with them,

  • conducting non-agricultural economic activity, as well as people cooperating with them.

Compulsory social insurance applies to all Polish citizens who have a title to it in the territory of Poland, as well as those who have been employed by Polish entities abroad. Exclusions from the insurance obligation may be made on the basis of an international law to which Poland is a party, or on the basis of Community law.

Determining the relevant insurance legislation for Polish citizens employed in the territory of the EU / EEA Member States and Switzerland is made on the basis of EU regulations.

The principle of the exclusivity of the application of a single compulsory social security system is a fundamental principle of the European social security system. The place of work is considered to be a decisive factor, so a person who moves within the EU / EEA and Switzerland in order to work is subject to the social security system in force in only one Member State. In the case of:

  • an employed person who is employed in the territory of one country is subject to its legislation even if he resides in the territory of another country or if the company or employer employing him has its seat or place of business in the territory of another Member State;

  • a person who is self-employed in the territory of one Member State is subject to the legislation of that Member State even if he resides in the territory of another Member State.

According to the Community law, the term "employee" is interpreted more broadly than, for example, in Polish law. Thus, an employee is a person who performs work for some time for and under the direction of another person, and in return receives remuneration. Therefore, the group of employees also includes, for example, contractors.

People who run a non-agricultural business, partners in partnerships, general partnerships and limited partnerships, partners in sole proprietorships, representatives of freelance professions, creators, artists and farmers are included in the group of self-employed persons.

An employee performing an employment in several countries at the same time

An employee who performs work in several countries at the same time may, in certain situations, be subject to the legislation of the country in which he resides or of the one in which the employing company or the employer with whom he has concluded the contract is established.

There are cases where the employee:

  • is delegated,

  • is employed in several different EU countries and resides in one of those countries,

  • is employed in several different EU countries, but resides in an EU country where he is not employed.

In a situation where an employee works for different employers in several Member States or performs work for one employer, but in several of his establishments located in different Member States, if the place of employment is the country where the employee resides and carries out part of his work there - insurance law in the country where he resides and carries out part of his work there.

If Poles are employed in a country that has signed an international agreement with Poland, the determination of the relevant legislation is made on the basis of international agreements concluded with other countries.

Accordingly, the legislation of the country where the work is carried out applies. However, there are situations in which the provisions of the contract allow the use of Polish legislation.

International agreements on social security contain provisions regarding the determination of the applicable legislation. They have specific purposes, such as:

  • preventing a person from being covered by the social security system in any country,

  • preventing a situation from being subject to double insurance - in the country of employment and the country of residence.

In accordance with the provisions of the Polish Constitution, ratified international agreements are part of the domestic legal order and are directly applicable. Their laws decide which country's insurance legislation will apply to. The general rule, resulting from all contracts to which Poland is a party, indicates that in the country where the employment is performed, social security is required. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.

These exceptions may apply, for example, to posted workers. Such an employee is a person who:

  • has been temporarily transferred by the employer to the territory of the other country to perform work for him,

  • it was sent as part of an employment relationship with the sending employer,

  • continues to function within the structures of the sending employer and is subject to his orders regarding the time, place and type of activities performed,

  • makes a wage claim against this employer.

The role of the employer is also to meet the conditions for sending. It is important whether the workplace conducts business activity in the country, i.e. whether:

  • has its seat and administration in Poland,

  • runs a business in Poland entered in the register of activities,

  • does it employ other employees apart from those sent abroad.

In order to establish the applicable legislation in international treaties in the field of social security, the above principles should be applied.

In the event that Poles work in non-contractual countries, the Polish legislation on social security is applicable.

When the work is performed in a third country and the employment relationship continues during that period, the social security obligation arises in Poland. However, there are situations where contributions will also have to be paid in the country where the work is done. It is then about the phenomenon of double social insurance.

In a situation where an employee is employed abroad as posted by a Polish employer, this employment may take the form of:

  • sending an employee under an existing employment contract in Poland - abroad,

  • employment abroad in an entity dependent on the Polish employer, in the event that the employment contract with the Polish employer is suspended or terminated for the duration of employment abroad.

The sending of an employee is considered, inter alia, a situation where:

  • the employee, under the instructions of the domestic employer, temporarily travels to another country to perform activities for that employer,

  • it is performed under an employment relationship that exists in the sending country,

  • the wage claim is made directly to the sending employer.

In order for Polish social security legislation to apply to employees, all the above conditions must be met. When this happens, the payer is responsible for paying the social security contributions due for the employee.

The situation is different when employees are posted abroad in order to perform work in a subsidiary of the Polish entity, which is the employer of the posted person. In such cases, the employment relationship with the Polish employer is usually suspended or temporarily terminated.

In both of the above-mentioned cases, the employer is not obliged to pay social security contributions in Poland. The legislation of the country where the work is carried out and contributions are then applied. In Poland, the employer provides ZUS with documents, the type of which depends on whether the unpaid leave has been granted or the contract has been terminated. These documents may inform about a break in paying contributions on the ZUS RSA form or about deregistration of an employee from insurance on the ZUS ZWUA form.

A person who is employed in such a procedure abroad has the right to be covered by voluntary old-age and disability pension insurance in Poland.