As a result of COVID-19, many business functions are taking steps to create and update multiple policies within their organization, and the global mobility department is no exception. While restrictions remain in place for “traditional” mobile employees such as business travelers, assignees, commuters, and transferees, an even larger group of remote workers—including work-from-home or “work anywhere” employees—is creating new mobility tax issues for companies to consider.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently resulted in a surge of “work-from-home” employees, and for many companies, it has proved to be a positive addition to their workplace culture. Because of this positive feedback and overall ease of having employees working from home, companies are allowing more of their employees to work remotely on a regular basis. According to a March 2020 article by Forbes, remote work increased 159% between 2002 and 2017 due to various benefits. The fact that COVID-19 has forced more companies to allow their employees to work remotely will likely mean this already growing trend will continue and even accelerate in the future. This migration to having more remote workers is likely to be just one of many significant changes as a result of COVID-19 and although working from home is not a new concept, having such an increase in remote workers will create new issues for companies to consider.
It’s been over twenty years since I made my own global mobility move, relocating from the UK to the US. Back then, I was a lowly minion at one of the accounting giants at that time. To say my relocation package was sparse would be an understatement. I received a bit of temporary housing support when I first arrived and that was pretty much it. Off I went. Even from a distance of over two decades, I still remember the stress of the move and trying to get myself situated. Little did I realize that I would be the precursor to a growing trend in global mobility—the self-requested move with little or no company assistance.
To say these are unprecedented times would be something of an understatement. GTN, along with our friends and affiliates in the mobility industry, was built on the movement of human capital around the globe for business. To date, the worldwide spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is proving to be the exact opposite with countries shutting borders, banning travel, and restricting social interaction.
Sending business travelers on tax-equalized assignments around the globe often makes good business sense, but how to account for the tax costs associated with assignments can be challenging. To ensure incremental tax obligations don’t take you by surprise, it helps to have a process in place so you’ll be prepared for the additional expenses your mobile workers trigger along the way. To do this, many companies implement an accrual solution.
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.”