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Managing International Mobility in Today’s Workforce

The pandemic has ushered in a new era of remote work. Since “working from home” has allowed teams to perform job duties anywhere, some employees are opting to move to international locations away from their physical office – whether it is to be closer to family or to scratch a travel itch. While most employers have been flexible and allowed for such arrangements, below are some considerations to keep in mind when thinking about the organizational impact:

Is It a Short-Term or a Long-Term Agreement?

If the international placement is a short-term benefit, there usually is no need to set up insurances and taxes in the new country as long as the employee stays abroad for a temporary period. Confirm with the applicable country’s employment and tax laws as there could be a time limit in which the employee may work without triggering local regulatory requirements or liabilities.

On the other hand, if the assignment turns out to be permanent or extended for a longer period of time, the organization will have to look into whether or not they should set up a company in that region, or rely on a local expert such as a PEO or employer of record to be able to employ and comply with the pertinent labor and tax laws.

Time Difference

When allowing a staff member to work from another country, it is key to think about the time difference. Will the person need to interact with staff, clients, or donors? If so, the need to be in a similar time zone or continue to work hours similar to headquarters may take precedence. There should be clarity on the work hours prior to the employee leaving to ensure such coverage and productivity will still be met.

Coverage for Medical Emergencies

Check and inform employees whether the worker’s compensation and health insurance would cover their medical necessities. In some cases, individuals may need to obtain travel emergency insurance to be able to access medical care internationally.

Have a Policy: Anticipate Issues & Questions

Ensure you provide a consistent and clear approach to international mobility. Expectations and responsibilities should be spelled out and agreed upon by the employee before any anticipated travel plans. You can include in such policy the items aforementioned above as well as approval time, eligibility requirements, visa/work-permit issues, holidays, and access to systems and technology.

While setting up this program may require some initial and long-term considerations, allowing your team to spend time with family or change their scenery tends to improve work-life balance, employee engagement, productivity, and creativity.

Reach out to your Kiwi HR Advisor to delineate a fair, clear, and progressive international mobility policy for your organization.


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