Social insurance for Poles employed abroad


Compulsory social insurance in Poland applies to all Polish citizens who are entitled to insurance in the territory of the country, as well as those employed abroad by Polish enterprises. In the case of employment of a Pole by a Polish entity abroad, the obligation of social insurance abroad may be excluded under an international agreement to which Poland is a party, or under Community law.

Equally with employment in the territory of Poland is the employment of Polish citizens abroad in Polish diplomatic missions and consular offices, in permanent representations at the United Nations and other missions or special missions, as well as in other Polish missions, institutions or enterprises, unless international agreements stipulate otherwise.

Social security abroad - referral by a Polish employer

There are three situations that determine the relevant insurance legislation for Polish citizens employed abroad.

Determining the applicable legislation on the basis of EU regulations

This case concerns Poles working in the Member States of the European Union / European Economic Area and Switzerland.

According to the basic principle of the European social security system, the principle of the exclusive application of one compulsory social security system applies. The decisive factor is the place of work, i.e. a person moving within the EU / EEA and Switzerland to work, is subject to the social security system applicable only to one Member State (principle of unity of applicable law). There are exceptions to the principle of the place of work, mainly in the case of posted workers, to whom it is possible to apply the legislation applicable to the posting country for a specified period of time when performing work in another country. However, this requires additional conditions.

Determining the appropriate legislation on the basis of international agreements concluded by Poland with other countries

The case of Poles working in a country with which Poland is bound by an international agreement.

In this case, the legislation of the country where the work is carried out applies. There are, however, exceptions when the provisions of the agreement allow the application of Polish legislation.

The provisions on determining the applicable legislation in international agreements on social security are intended to:

  • avoiding a situation where a person is not covered by social security in any country,
  • preventing a person from being subject to double insurance - in the country of employment and the country of residence.

In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, ratified international agreements form part of the domestic legal order and are directly applicable. A ratified agreement takes precedence over national law (with prior consent expressed in the act).

Compulsory social security remains in the country where the employment is carried out. There are also exceptions to this rule. Each of the contracts has an exception for posted workers.

A posted worker is a person who:

  • is sent temporarily by her employer to the territory of another country in order to perform work for that employer,
  • it is sent as part of an employment relationship with the sending employer,
  • continues to function within the structures of the sending employer, is subject to his instructions regarding the time, place and type of activities performed,
  • to this the employer directs its claims for remuneration.

The conditions for dispatch must also be met on the part of the employer. The decisive factor is whether the workplace usually carries out economic activity in the territory of the country:

  • whether it has headquarters and administration in Poland,
  • whether he conducts business activity in the territory of Poland in the scope resulting from the entry in the commercial register - business activity register,
  • Does he employ other people in this activity, in addition to those assigned to work abroad.

The above rules apply to determining the applicable legislation in all international agreements for the purpose of social security.

Determining the applicable legislation when working in non-contractual countries

The last case concerns Poles working in countries with which Poland has not concluded an international agreement, or from outside the EU / EEA and Switzerland.

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If the employment relationship still exists while working in a third country in Poland, the social security obligation arises in Poland. It is possible that contributions will also have to be paid in the country where the work is performed. Hence, there may be double social security coverage.

Polish employees can be employed abroad through Polish employers, they can also take up jobs directly in foreign entities.

Social insurance abroad - employment directly in foreign entities

In the event that persons take up employment directly in foreign entities without the intermediation of Polish employers, they are subject to the social insurance legislation in the country where they perform their employment. Such persons can join voluntary old-age and disability pension insurance in Poland. People who report themselves to the local ZUS unit, also pay their insurance premiums.