Sending an employee overseas can be a great opportunity for both the employer and employee. Employers benefit from expanding its business operation to another country while the employee has the unique opportunity to explore a different country both personally and professionally. However, to make the process of relocation as well as to achieve success, the right preparation and planning is required.
Here are the key points that should be followed to ensure that your business is both compliant and fully aware of the implications of the move.
1. Get to know the new country first
If possible, it is advisable that an employer should visit the country in question in order to get familiar with the different local laws and customs. Business owners may also consult a lawyer in the US who specializes in international human resource issues. Especially important is to understand and abide by the local visa regulations, which are different for every country.
2. Be aware of all extra costs
It is important for the business owner to factor in all of the costs, as supplying benefits including living expenses and security (if required) increases costs up to several times the actual salary. With this comes the issue that certain perks may create local
tax obligations for an employer.
Be sure to make clear what the business is prepared to pay and the resulting costs for the company. Questions such as the following should be answered:
- If the employee is moving with his/her family, will the company pay accommodation costs overseas?
- Is the payment limited to the first year of the overseas assignment?
- Does your company take into account that the employee might rent his home out and therefore earn rental income whilst abroad?
- Does the host country tax this accommodation and, if so, who pays the tax?
It is of utmost importance that the business owner understands the immigration requirements in the host country so that the relevant documents can be arranged. In certain countries an employee may need a work permit, whereas in others a visa or maybe even both. In most cases, know that a work visa requires sponsorship from a local company.
4. Get tax advice
Employers should be aware of the tax implications of the relocation for employer and employee in both the home and host countries. A tax adviser can provide different options for the business operation in regards to where the employee is to be paid and where the salary costs are booked. It is possible that paying an employee locally may have withholding tax implications for the company.
An employee might also require tax advice, which is matched to the assignment structure of the company.
5. Social security
It is both vital for the employer and the employee to make certain that social security is paid at the right place. There are roughly three different areas for social security filing purposes: the EU, countries with which the UK has a social security agreement (including USA) and “other.”
6. Quick Tips for employers to send staff overseas:
• Location: Inform the employee on where they will be moving to and help them to anticipate any possible challenges.
• Preparation: It is advisable to have copies of any legal documents needed, which include passports, visas, work, and residence permits.
• Arrival in the host country: The beginning of living and working in a new country might be challenging – make sure employees understand this and are aware that adjustment is required to get used to the country’s way of life, cultures and traditions.
• Family and friends: Missing families and friends can be hard for most employees – make certain that employees are aware of this emotional factor.
• Money: Provide necessary assistance, which might be needed in understanding local financial habits, setting up local bank accounts and arranging money transfers.
• Health and safety: Inform employees about the local issues of health and safety before they depart – make them aware of any local threats (illnesses, crime, pollution).
• Culture shock: Make sure that your employee understands what differences he will face in the new culture. Everything from food to customs will be different, so reviewing this and possibly sending them over for a test run could help make the transition easier.
While we live in an increasingly global world, there are still some differences that cannot be glided over. For example, South African Hotels recently did a study to find out what foods South African expats miss the most. They found that in London, South African expats can’t find some of their favorite foods. Make sure your employee is aware of differences like these so he assimilates to the new culture as easily as possible.
Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting businesses on marketing strategy, she can be found writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.