Temporary easement for employees who return to work in the UK

19 August 2020

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, a temporary easement for National Insurance (NI) will be introduced for employees who temporarily return to work in the UK from a country outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, where the UK does not have a reciprocal agreement. The associated guidance page has been updated to reflect this.

The situation will be dependent on the nature of the duties of the employee who returns to the UK temporarily. If the duties are related to overseas employment, for example, briefing or further training for that employment, then the employee should still be treated as if they are abroad. Class 1 contributions should be deducted until the 52-week period of Class 1 liability is reached.

If, however, the duties are not incidental to overseas employment and the 52-week period of liability has ended, then:

  • The first six weeks of employment in the UK can be disregarded (this is not a legal requirement but a concession to ease administrative duties when an employee returns to the UK for a short period, and it only applies where they return to the UK for the same employer)
  • Contributions should be paid in the normal way for any further period in the UK

In instances where the 52-week period has not ended, it is not extended further by any period of employment in the UK which falls within it.

Class 1 NI contributions will continue to be paid for 52 weeks, beginning with the first contribution week in which the overseas employment begins, when an employee goes to work abroad again once it is safe to do so and any existing liability period has ended.

A further period of liability will only occur if:

  • The employer has a place of business in the UK
  • The employee is ordinarily a resident in the UK, and
  • Immediately prior to the commencement of employment, the employee was a resident in the UK

Any employees who are working in an EU, EEA country or Switzerland as a result of coronavirus, should continue to pay social security contributions or UK NI unless they are advised otherwise.

Anybody who is working within a country that the UK has a reciprocal agreement with, is able to contact HMRC should they have any concerns, or alternatively they can contact the authorities in the country in which they are working.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.