Should I allow my employees to work abroad?

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Remote working was a necessity for many businesses during the Pandemic, and now that offices are opening again, employers have seen the benefits of moving to a home working model for some employees. See our previous blog for more information on longer term homeworking

If you do agree a permanent home working arrangement with employees, the next question that may arise is “Can I work abroad?” 

Obviously with a good internet connection, and time difference allowing, it is possible to have employees working for you from anywhere in the world.

In fact, it’s not unheard of for a home worker to suddenly move abroad without even telling their employer! This can cause several legal and logistical complications, meaning it is important to determine the terms of a remote working arrangement from the start.

To protect your business and employees, it’s vital to consider all the legal and logistical elements involved when managing an employee abroad.

Managing the process

As with all working arrangements, there is HR, employment law and tax to consider, which will differ depending on the location of the employee.

If an employee has asked to work remotely abroad for a period of up to the length of their tourist visa, there is little to worry about in terms of local taxation, as long as the employee does not have local residency status in the country, they are working in. 

If employees do require a visa or residency status to work, you could be subject to local employment law and taxation. This can mean that the employee is entitled to different employment rights and their employer subject to local taxes.

You’ll need to check with the country in question to make sure your arrangement remains compliant for the duration of their employment or period abroad.

If the employee is a British citizen heading to work remotely overseas in the EU, remember that immigration rules have changed for living and working in the EU due to Brexit, with UK citizens now only able to stay in EU countries for 90 days out of 180 days.  

A variation of contract agreement should be created specifically for those working for your business abroad, and policies should be updated to factor in things like the safe handling and security of data overseas.

Practical Considerations

Many employers will have had the opportunity to trial remote working during the pandemic so will have already established processes and guidelines for managing staff remotely.

There are additional considerations when an employee is working abroad. There could be different national holidays, time differences and work patterns to think about.

What happens if you need an employee back in the office or to visit a client? These practical considerations should be discussed and clarified in the variation of contract letter prior to the employee working abroad.

It would also be useful for employers to gain an understanding of an employee’s longer-term plans. Are they just looking for a short period of experiencing living abroad whilst still carrying out their existing role, or are they looking for a longer-term arrangement and to permanently be based abroad?

The answer to these questions might impact on an employer’s decision on whether to agree to the remote working.

For a free 15 minute consultation on this or any other employment issue please get in touch.

Harwood HR – HR Consultants providing HR Consultancy and HR Outsourced Services.  We provide clear, cost-effective HR advice. For a free consultation, please contact us on:

0117 439 0119 or info@harwood-hr.co.uk

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