Social Security in Europe
Article 3 minute read

Social Security in Europe

06 October 2015

The numerous social security, benefits and leave calculations required by payroll departments in some European countries are not for the faint-hearted! Here are just some of the rules that companies looking to expand must get their heads around.

The European Union has a set of common rules designed to protect the social security rights and benefits of citizens moving within the continent, but they in no way override the rules of individual countries (some of which are not members of or affiliated with the EU anyway). Nations are very much free to establish and enforce their own employment-related legislation.

Employees in Europe who work across borders (living in for example Switzerland, but working in France) are only subject to the legislation of one country at a time, and will generally pay social security and receive benefits in the country where they work. These employees hold the same rights and obligations as nationals of the country.

Following are just some of the points of difference in social security rules across Europe that should be taken into account.


France’s social security regulations are renowned for being highly complex due to frequent government reporting obligations. Different industries must report to different departments on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. An employer in France contributes to 31 different items on an employees’ payslip, and the payslip itself contains an average of 35 line items. The French social security authority can audit payroll from the last three years. In the past four years, 67% of companies have been audited and in 60% of cases, the audit resulted in the companies having to pay penalties for incorrect tax calculation.


17 reporting schedules exist for social security in Belgium and deductions change frequently. Taxes must be reported both monthly and annually, to different organisations. Due to the complex requirements and varying frequencies it’s common for companies based in Belgium to run the post-payroll process through a third party provider.


TMF Group’s expert team in Hungary are made up of both payroll and social security specialists to help companies navigate the local requirements. All new employees in Hungary must be registered for social security on their first working day at the latest, while employers with headcounts above 100 become social security payer offices; this means the employer handles the social security claims (for example sick leave) of employees, and a licensed social security administrator should be assigned to deal with any payments made on behalf of the funds.


The social security code in Turkey requires payroll processing to be completed for each work place, so a client operating in five cities for example, must run five separate payrolls and file all relevant tax returns individually. TMF Group in Turkey offers solutions to clients that allow them to streamline the multi-payroll process by appointing a key contact to consolidate the information from each site, and process multiple payrolls centrally. This can significantly reduce a company’s administrative time, particularly if they have been using different vendors in each of their workplace locations.


Ranked alongside France and Belgium for its level of payroll complexity, Italy is also known for its onerous social security and tax calculations. These vary not just by region but also by city and a company with only a small number of employees must meet the same regulations as large companies.

There are more than six ways to apply taxes and withhold on employee insurances in Italy, and TMF Group experts can cross map and apply the relevant treatment for any specific situation.

Our payroll support extends all over Europe, with people on the ground that allow you to work in local currency, report in the local language and  you can be sure that all our services are fully compliant with local rules and regulations. Find out more about our HR and payroll services here.

Written by

Deborah Williams

Former Head of Global Business Services

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