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Employment law

Legal Area

Legal Aspect


Free movement of workers

Any national of an EEA Member State has the right to take up an activity as an employed person, and to pursue such activity, within the territory of another Member State, under the same conditions as a citizen of such Member State (free movement of workers). 

Post-Brexit, this privilege would no longer apply to either side. A total of some 115,000 British citizens live and work in Germany; around 262,000 Germans have settled in the UK. They may face significant restrictions in the future with regard to taking up employment.

Cross-border deployment of employees

Employees may be posted to another Member State under less stringent conditions than those applicable to non-EEA states.

In the event of Brexit, employers would be much more limited than before in relation to cross-border deployment of employees. They would have to overcome considerable bureaucratic hurdles (e.g. applying for a work permit or undergoing a (lengthy) priority review to demonstrate that other candidates cannot fill the position). Whether it actually comes to this will depend on whether the UK decides to negotiate freedom of movement agreements with each of the Member States or whether a strict visa system is implemented.

Social security for postings abroad

Legal aspects of social security relating to postings abroad are covered by an EU Regulation.

Companies face the prospect of postings involving complex legal issues in future if the UK is treated as a non-EU country.

Until such time as the UK's exit is completed, EU Regulation (EC) 883/2004 of 1 May 2010 will continue to apply to employee postings to the UK. After that, however, the Germany-UK social security agreement could gain in importance again, after having become (virtually) irrelevant due to both countries being members of the EU. The social security agreement is still valid today and has continued to be used for exceptional cases not covered by the EU Regulation. However, the agreement does not cover employment in more than one country and only grants privilege for posting for 12 months.