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5 Global Mobility Policy Must-Haves

5 min read
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It might be time to revisit your mobility policy if you’re missing these critical items. 

Companies with global reach and an internationally distributed workforce all have one thing in common – a need to have the best talent at the right place, supporting company objectives in the organization’s interest, its customers, and its employees.

Moving employees from home to host locations, especially when distinct cultures and language barriers are involved, comes with risks to both company and employees. Those risks emerge in many forms, such as financial performance, employee productivity, tax liabilities, and employee retention.

All the more reason for companies with international operations to have these five global mobility policy must-haves as they look to optimize their prospects for a brighter future.

  1. Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities for a successful global mobility program rest on all parties involved in relocating employees from country to country – including the employees themselves. Defining clear-cut roles and responsibilities in your global mobility policy will ensure all parties involved in an international assignment understand their duties.

Here are a few highlighted responsibilities to consider as you look to establish your global mobility policy:

  • Understand the needs and expectations of an assignment abroad.
  • Ensure all necessary administrative forms have been completed (payroll, work visa, relevant health records, etc.).
  • Have documentation clearly explaining relocation benefits, including company and employee financial responsibilities and what the company will do in support of moves.
  • Gather and share as much information about the cultural differences of the overseas assignment country as possible to help employees and their families prepare for the inevitable cultural shock involved with a move.
  • Ensure employees understand their responsibility in tracking expenses related to their relocation and have a list of approved expenses for future reimbursement.

Of course, any move must have 100% participation from its employees. Taking personal and professional responsibility for one’s actions, commitments and duties is integral to developing high-performing individuals. But employees don’t exist in a vacuum, so a company dispatching them abroad must support them accordingly. 

  1. Compensation Structure

Because compensation is a foundational component of any global mobility assignment, Ineo recommends that its clients develop a clear and comprehensive compensation structure. Providing a straightforward compensation structure means valued employees avoid confusion as they transition to new roles in locations worldwide. 

  1. Tax Compliance

When you have compensation and expenses in play, you must address the corresponding tax implications from both the employer and employee perspectives. Given the complexity of domestic tax law, paired with individual tax treaties that may be in place in host countries, it’s worthwhile to consult with global mobility tax experts. A few top tax concerns to address in your global mobility policy include:

  • Federal tax withholding, as required by domestic and host countries.
  • Any state/provincial/cantonal/local tax withholding that may be required, including the possibility (or not) of breaking tax residency.
  • Social security and other related tax requirements.  
  1. Immigration Legislation 

Immigration isn’t an issue to gloss over when developing a global mobility policy. If an employee is abroad on temporary assignment, then immigration issues may be best handled by the employer. In the case of permanent transfers, however, the burden of the immigration process (including any related fees) may fall on employees’ shoulders. Therefore, it’s essential to spell out those responsibilities to avoid confusion and, worse, potential jeopardy of an employee’s immigration status in the host country. 

Final thoughts on immigration: Given its complexity, a company would be wise to have its global mobility team or consulting party develop a detailed employee relocation document to make the process easier to understand, follow, and execute. 

  1. Safety

From international terrorism to petty crime, working in a different country may pose significant risks for an assignee in an unfamiliar country and culture. So it should go without saying that the security of your employees should be a primary consideration when developing global mobility policies. 

Companies are accountable for developing and updating risk assessments of the host country before and during each employee’s relocation. Ensure employees are familiar with the local resources available in their host country; consulates are great resources for citizens traveling abroad and provide invaluable aid to those who fall victim to crime or other unforeseen events. 

Your global mobility team or outsourced partner should create a robust series of protocols that employees can follow in various scenarios that may arise while abroad. Risk assessments should be kept current, and advisories from the home country consulate should be shared regularly with any employees working overseas. 

Mobility policy approaches are becoming more adaptable

As the pandemic recedes and the world begins to reopen, companies have more flexibility than ever when managing a global workforce. There are many employment opportunities, including expansion into new markets, hiring local talent, employees who commute to international locations, permanent transfers, extended stay employees, and more. In other words, there is an ever-changing landscape to understand, plan for, and ultimately manage when it comes to building a global mobility policy. 

Ineo offers robust, customizable global mobility software solutions capable of scaling with a company as it grows over time. Contact us today to learn more about how our TechSuite mobility software and industry experts can support your productive global workforce.

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