Taking the splash!: Advice for employers when considering requests from employees to work overseas

13 September, 2021

One of the most significant consequences of Covid-19 has been the shift and adaptation to homeworking.  Indeed as borders have opened up, many employees are looking to exploit opportunities of homeworking by working from abroad – perhaps from a holiday home or to return to a home nation where their family is based.

A request to work abroad poses many legal and practical considerations for businesses. Here are our top factors to consider when you receive such a request.

 

  1. Does your employee require a working visa?

Depending on how long the employee intends to stay in the host country, they may require a visa or work permit.

 

  1. How do you deduct taxes?

As a UK employer, you should continue to deduct UK income tax under the PAYE system regardless of where the employee is working temporarily. You will also need to consider whether the employee is subject to local taxes or social security liabilities in the host country, or any Covid-19 stipulations that have been issued.

 

  1. Does the host country have varying employment rights to the UK, and when would these come into force?

If an employee works in another country, they may become subject to local employment protections. This can include minimum pay, paid leave, and rights on termination. Failure to comply with these rights can lead to litigation.

 

  1. Do your employment contracts cover working overseas?

Your employment contracts are likely to stipulate that the normal place of work for your employees is your UK office address. You may need to agree to vary your contracts to ensure your employees are not in breach of this clause by working abroad (and possibly consider amending the working hours clause if you plan to work flexibly or across different time-zones).

 

  1. How can you ensure your data is protected?

You will need to consider how confidential information is protected. If your employee is working from a hotel, company property and sensitive documents left out can easily create a risk. You may wish to insist your employee works only from a specified address.

 

  1. How can you ensure your employee is still productive?

This question can be considered for any remote work, however if an employee is working overseas you will also need to consider time-zones and how that will affect productivity. You may also need to invest in technology and other equipment to bridge the location gap.  Consider how the role can be performed most effectively, to ensure productivity is not diminished.

 

  1. Does your insurance cover employees working overseas?

You are responsible for the health and safety of your employees wherever they are located. Therefore it is advisable to take out or maintain a valid policy of insurance covering company property against fire, theft, loss or damage, and ensuring your insurance extends to other countries. Employees will need to consider their own personal insurance to check that working from abroad is covered. If applicable, you will also need to consider your company’s private health insurance and check this extends to overseas.

 

  1. How will you deal with employees where it is unviable to grant their request to work from overseas?

For many reasons, it may not be viable for a role to be based overseas. If this is the case, be clear in your reasoning and ensure a consistent approach is taken across the business.

 

If you have any questions, or require any advice please contact Rhona Darbyshire or an alternative member of the employment team.