Where Should Pilots Pay Social Security?
The EU Commission recently issued guidelines and a proposal for Regulation to facilitate the implementation for pilots of new European laws on Social Security. Social security rules are important as they can prevent or encourage Social Dumping. ECA calls on the Commission to closely work with all stakeholders towards a fair system of coordination of social security which ensures the protection of rights of pilots and the sustainability of the national social security systems.
When it comes to the application of social security rules for pilots, the European Member States identified problems such as the use of letter box offices (false registered offices in countries where no real activity exists), the abuses by agencies employing or supplying pilots, employment in more than one country or the situation of “fake” self employed pilots.
In order to resolve these issues, the EU proposes that pilots pay social security in their country of residence if they have at least 25% of their activity in that country. This could be measured in many ways. In case of doubt, the number of take-off and landings in the country of residence will be used to determine the 25%. If the pilot does not have 25% of activity in their country of residence, the Commission now proposes to consider that the law of the home base should apply.
These rules were adopted without consulting the concerned parties despite being obliged to consult social partners when taking decisions having social impact on the sector. The rules on social security will certainly have a social impact: If the system allows that two crewmembers working from the same airport do not pay social security in the same country, there will not be a level playing field and the deficit in the collection of revenue could endanger the survival of the local social security system. This could be the case in France, where the pension fund for pilots depends on the contributions made by the crew members. Furthermore, if moving pilots from base to base on a constant basis allows a company to avoid paying local social security, this will result in forced mobility, reducing the pilots living and working conditions.
Our association doubts that the measures proposed by the EU will be suitable for the industry. We are concerned that the new measures will not reduce abuses and prevent social dumping. It is necessary that the Commission works closely with the social partners to develop rules on social security that protect pilots’ rights and ensures the sustainability of national social security systems.