5 Best Countries for Contract Work in Europe

With 59% of middle-income workers planning to change jobs in the coming year, and over two thirds of the temporary workforce planning to continue contracting for at least the next five years, the temporary labour market will be increasingly competitive. Following the impact of Brexit, IR35 and Covid-19 on the UK economy, the best assignments for experienced British contractors could lie abroad.

Generate’s payroll and contractor management experts outline the five best European nations for short and medium-term work placements in 2021 and 2022.

The 5 Best European Countries to Work as a Contractor

1. Germany

The largest economy in Europe by a considerable margin, Germany is one of the continent’s most attractive prospects for the temporary workforce. The country has committed to spending 52% of the EU’s €25.6billion Recovery and Resilience Facility fund on measures to support digital transition, including €2.5billion to increase energy efficiency construction renovation and infrastructure and €2.5billion to increase production of electric cars. The thousands of new jobs created as a result will present profitable and exciting opportunities for contractors who work as IT Project Managers, Developers, Programmers and Engineers.

Although the country is a popular destination for contractors of all skill sets, German organisations will continually raise demand for temporary labour, due to falling birth rates and a rapidly ageing population. Germany will face a shortage of 3million skilled workers by 2030, with marked skills gaps meaning 2million jobs are currently unfilled. The German private and public sectors urgently require skilled specialists in fields popular with experienced contractors, including:

2. Switzerland

The Swiss economy is heavily reliant on the contract labour force: one in four people currently working in the country are freelancers or self-employed. European contractors searching for work in Switzerland will be in good company. Every year around 2million people emigrate to the country, with the majority originating from neighbouring France and Germany, although Swiss contracting work is becoming increasingly popular with British freelancers, interim managers and sole traders.

The nation’s taxes are comparatively very low, at a flat rate of 8.5%. Self-employment income is included in overall taxable income, with social security contributions for self-employed people set at a maximum rate of 9.7% of their income. Self-employed workers can offset expenses related to business activity, depreciation expenses related to business assets and charitable contributions representing up to 20% of net business revenues.

Most temporary workers must conduct all employment activities through a Swiss labour leasing company. This ensures all your business activities are compliant and financially secure and provides the same statutory benefits (including income protection) received by permanent staff members, whilst still allowing the flexibility and autonomy of a contract role.

Find out how Generate could protect your legal and financial security.

3. Finland

Finland ranks in first place on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Competitiveness Report. Finnish businesses have been determined the world’s most ready for transformation following Covid-19, with determining factors including economic growth predictions, strong public institutions and governance, infrastructure expansion plans and international co-operation practices. Crucially for temporary workers, this list also includes readiness for progressive tax reform.

The birthplace of Nokia, Finland has long been a global leader in technology and telecommunications. IT contractors will find a variety of opportunities to work with some of the world’s largest tech companies in Finland, including Microsoft, IBM, Fujitsu, Google, Salesforce, Cisco and SAP.

4. Austria

Every year since 2009, Austrian capital city Vienna has been voted the best place to live and work in the world. Excellent transport and infrastructure, low crime rates, world-class healthcare – which UK citizens can still access using an EHIC, GHIC or S1 form – make the city an enjoyable and safe place for individuals of any background. A focus on clean energy has limited pollution and conserved a wealth of green spaces even in the heart of the city.

As the 14th-richest country in the world with one of the globe’s highest GDPs per head, Austria’s labour market provides an abundance of opportunities for skilled contractors. For those working in the capital over only a few months, renting beautiful, spacious Viennese apartments is highly affordable compared with most other European cities. The country’s economic prosperity and welcoming society offer profitable assignment options, enjoyable personal experiences and an unrivalled quality of life for contractors across specialisms.

5. Spain

Officially the sunniest nation in Europe, the country’s Mediterranean coastline, from the Costa Blanca to the Costa del Sol, boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year (compared to the UK’s average of 62 per year). Spain also ranks highly on the OECD’s Quality of Life Index due to overall income and wealth, work/life balance, personal security, social communities, environment and general wellbeing.

Working as a contractor in Spain is generally felt to be less hassle than other European countries, as individuals have more freedom to choose different working arrangements across operating as a freelancer, through your own limited company or through an umbrella company. Those staying in the country for only a few months will benefit from a flat tax rate of 24% on all Spanish-sourced income, regardless of your total earnings.

Advance Your Contracting Career

The best way to ensure full compliance and protect against legal risk anywhere you work is to partner a dedicated team who specialise in international compliance for contractors.

Need help with compliance, tax or legal advice? Our experienced payroll and contractor management specialists are on hand to help.

Looking for a new challenge? Take a look at the Top 5 Most Popular Contract Roles for 2021 and 2022.