As travel is slowly returning worldwide, and remote work is becoming truly remote, the key to having a successful remote workforce policy is to have a plan. Having an approach that essentially lets your employees freely choose where they work puts both the company and the employee at risk. And there are many risks ranging from health, duty of care, employee benefits, and insurance, to more operational aspects such as immigration, tax, payroll withholding, and social security. Below are some guidelines for how you can handle your traveling remote workforce.
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While COVID-19 continues to impact the world of business travel, there are still many companies with mobile workforces. Essential business trips didn’t stop when the pandemic hit for employees who continued to travel due to the nature of their job responsibilities. And in the current world climate, “mobile workforce” now includes remote working, work from anywhere, and commuting—all of which have seen an increase in popularity during the pandemic. While these work situations may be somewhat temporary, there are still tax risks and compliance requirements that need to be addressed.
Colleagues, peers, mobility professionals, and even my kids have asked me if COVID-19 means the end of business travel. And over the past two months, the traditional questions being asked have changed from a focus on business travel issues, the need to track business travelers, and how to manage the process, to questions about working through country travel bans, tax exemptions, and the immediate mobility tax risks of employees being in a location they might not have expected to be in. While we don’t have all the answers, we are working through these questions, determining next steps, and creating solutions together that can be used well into the future.
As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the globe, many companies are beginning to issue travel bans on their staff—or certainly banning non-essential travel. Companies are also working to determine next steps for mobile employees who are on extended business trips or longer-term assignments. These employees may find themselves stranded in a location other than their Home country or their company may be trying to evacuate them from a “hot area.”
UPDATED: February 7, 2020
On January 31, 2020 the UK left the EU and has entered into an 11-month transition period. Now that this departure has taken place, it is a good time to carefully review the impact this will undoubtedly have on employees assigned to the EU.