Questions and answers about the URA Agreement
When should the assignment abroad be regarded as a travel for work purposes and when is it ‘stationing abroad’ under the URA Agreement?
The nature of the assignment and its conditions determine whether the assignment is to be seen as involving work-related travel or as stationing abroad under the URA Agreement. The employer must assess the situation and decide on the matter. (The Agreement has no minimum time limit for the duration of the assignment; the former three-month limit in the Agreement has now been removed.)
Guidance on distinguishing between work-related travel and stationing abroad
If the employee is to stay at hotels and take meals at restaurants, the time spent abroad should normally be regarded as travel for work purposes or work-related travel. The employer cannot, and should not, pay costs or remuneration for family members travelling with the employee, and only the employee is covered by the employer’s insurance policies for work-related travel.
However, if the accommodation is such that the employee is to stay in self-catering premises at the duty station, i.e. in a rented apartment or house, or for that matter in an ‘aparthotel’ or ‘serviced apartment’, i.e. normally to buy his or her own food, prepare it on the cooker and have meals ‘at home’, the situation may be regarded as stationing abroad. Stationing abroad may also include conditions for accompanying family members (and to some extent also to those remaining in the home country). A contract in line with the URA Agreement is drawn up with the employee.
Is anyone eligible to be stationed abroad?
No. When a foreign national is sent to his or her home country, it may be regarded as a local employment position, for which Swedish government agencies are not allowed to recruit. It may be that citizenship is not, in the individual case, decisively important for where a person is domiciled. What is crucial in terms of the URA Agreement is, instead, where the person is living on an enduring basis (has his or her lasting centre of interests) with respect to social insurance and registered residence. In these cases, the question of whether stationing abroad is possible or not is settled only after it has been clarified which country’s social insurance system the person belongs to and where (s)he is registered as resident. The question of belonging to a social insurance system is investigated by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. For this to be done, the person concerned and Uppsala University must jointly fill in form FK6220. The question of registered residence must also be investigated, and exactly how this is to be done must be discussed with the person who may possibly be stationed abroad.
What applies to remuneration paid through Marie Curie scholarships when the holders are stationed abroad?
Marie Curie scholarships are always taxable, and must not be confused with the tax-exempt supplements that may be disbursed under a URA contact. As for handling of the remuneration or funds paid through Marie Curie scholarships in terms of tax liability and payment of employer’s social insurance contributions for the monies received through the scholarship, please get in touch with theAccounting Office (in the Financial Administration and Procurement Division). Contact with the Swedish Tax Agency regarding the circumstances may also be required in the individual case, so that it is clear from the start what the situation involves. The reason for this is to prevent us, the employer, being surprised later by unexpected charges and additional tax demands that may be imposed.
For which extra costs can a URA contract provide remuneration?
The only extra costs for which a URA contract can provide remuneration are private living expenses. URA is flexible and the contract may be adjusted in individual cases with respect to accommodation at the duty station and costs of food, meals etc., depending on the nature of the contract holder’s actual situation.
No standard estimates in these items can be accepted by the Swedish Tax Agency and work-related costs must not be confused with private living expenses.
Is the money a department receives from the Swedish Research Council, for example, free from overheads or should they be included in the remuneration they receive?
Overheads (indirect costs) should be included.
What does the URA insurance cost?
The insurance premium for the URA policy is currently (October 2014) SEK 12 per person per day.
What happens if an employee stationed abroad applies for parental leave?
A person with a URA contract is not entitled to remain at the duty station during parental leave. On the other hand it may, in an individual case, be reasonable for the person to be allowed to remain at the duty station for a brief period of parental leave (i.e. a few weeks).
Can employees stationed abroad keep remuneration of extra costs if they take holidays?
Yes, provided that the extra costs persist during the holiday.
Who can count as an accompanying person?
An accompanying person must have had a steady relationship with the person stationed abroad for at least six months. In addition, children below the age of 19 years may be covered by the contract.
Can a person be stationed abroad part-time?
Yes, but only in exceptional cases. It is important for the employee not to work for another employer at the duty station, since this may entail a risk for the employee of incurring double taxation and being regarded as a foreign resident for social insurance purposes. Moreover, Uppsala University may be obliged to pay employer’s social insurance contributions for the second position as well. You should always consult the HR Department ahead of being stationed abroad on a part-time basis.
Can a person who has a URA contract have ‘SINK’-tax status?
Special income tax for residents abroad who are temporarily employed in Sweden (Särskild inkomstskatt för utomlands bosatta, SINK) is payable only if the person stationed abroad does not have unlimited tax liability in Sweden.
How does the employer’s responsibility for the work environment operate when an employee is stationed abroad?
Uppsala University bears responsibility for the work environment of its employees stationed abroad. However, the provisions of the Swedish Work Environment Act and regulations issued by the Swedish Work Environment Authority apply in Sweden only. The University’s responsibility for the work environment must be exerted as well as possible and as far as is practicable, and employees themselves are very much responsible for reporting and pointing out any shortcomings in the work environment.
Content owner: Karin Borner 10-Jun-2016