In principle, an employee is covered by the social security regime which is applicable in the country where he is carrying out his work – ie, employees working in France should in principle be covered by the French social security system.

However, employees that are seconded to work in France on a temporary basis are entitled to retain their home social security regime for up to a maximum of 24 months, provided that the secondment agreement is genuine (i.e. not a mechanism for avoiding direct employment in France). This enables employees and their dependents to remain covered by their home social security system whilst the employee is working abroad.

To benefit from this, before the beginning of the secondment, the employer must make an application to the employee’s home social security authorities for an A1 Form to be delivered (such scheme being applicable only within the European Union), which confirms that the employee remains covered by his home social security regime. Where this is done, there is no obligation to register the employee with the French social security authorities, and social contributions are only payable in the home country.

In an attempt to fight against illegal secondment of employees, a new law came into force from 1 April 2017 which requires employees seconded to work in France and who are covered by another country’s social security system to keep the A1 Form available at their place of work and with the representative of the employer they are seconded from, for (potential) review by the Labour Inspector. If the employee does not have this document, the employer or its representative in France must have it available for review.

The potential sanction for failure to do so is a fine equivalent to the monthly social security cap (ie, €3,269 for 2017) per employee, which is due from the employer located in France, not the company they are seconded to. The amount is doubled for repeat offences within 2 years.

Accordingly, before seconding any employees to work in France, employers should ensure that the relevant secondees are correctly covered by a social security scheme and that all necessary applications are complete and documents in place.