While remote work certainly existed before the pandemic started, the rapid shift from in-office work to work-from-home positions left businesses and employees alike shocked at the scale of what can be accomplished remotely. Newly remote workers are reporting higher satisfaction and productivity than ever, and many would rather leave their current job for new opportunities than return to the office. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the world is seeing unprecedented rates of international employee relocation. Adapting to this surge of relocation requests may be challenging for many companies, but it will also be crucial to their bottom line going forward.
At its most basic, international employee relocation is the process a business goes through when an employee changes from working domestically to working in another country. This process can be initiated by the employer requesting that the employee move abroad, such as when the company is opening a new office or expanding operations into new territories. Or the employee may directly request relocation, oftentimes to be closer to family, to travel, or to simply be somewhere new.
In today’s world of remote work, flexible hours, and independent responsibilities, workers across the globe are packing up and moving to new locations. The increasing prevalence of moving abroad while working remotely is present in all industries, but some are seeing massive pushes toward the decentralization of office work. For example, in a recent survey, 81% of respondents in the information technology industry reported that they would move if it wouldn’t negatively impact their job prospects.
It seems undeniable that, for many industries, the future of work is remote. Going forward, businesses that want to stay competitive and attract the best talent the workforce has to offer will need to prioritize remote options or risk falling behind their competition. But international employee relocation isn’t always as simple as approving a request. There are many laws that need to be followed to the letter to make this option viable.
Each locality—whether it’s a city, state, or country—will have its own labor laws that you need to follow to stay compliant as an employer, and it may be challenging to navigate them. These laws often include minimum vacation allotments, minimum wages, overtime rules, and required benefits. Depending on the area, there may be many other stipulations that differ from the laws local to your business. These changes may mean pay adjustments, changes to working hours, and the need to draft an entirely new employment contract.
Labor laws aren’t the only rules that can get complicated when employing someone working in a different country. You’ll also need to navigate the changes in tax and payroll laws. Some countries may have specific guidelines for how direct deposits can be processed, and you’ll need to ensure your payroll team is making the proper deductions to stay compliant with all relevant tax laws.
When transitioning to a remote-friendly business model, you’ll need to develop a consistent policy regarding salary. What constitutes a living wage in any given area depends on a number of factors, like the local cost of living, taxes, and retirement support. To account for this, many businesses put forth a policy of localizing wages. This entails determining your employees’ salaries based on the expected cost of living where they reside. This way, you can guarantee your employees meet a specified quality of life, regardless of where they live.
The other option is to adopt a compensation policy that stays static. This is also called a “location-agnostic” policy, and it means paying all employees of a certain level or role the same wage across the globe. Both choices have their benefits and drawbacks, but what’s most important is that you define a policy for your company and stick to it. This transparency will be valuable for any talent considering joining your team, and it will help them make informed decisions about their relocation options.
As an employer, you’ll be at least partially responsible for ensuring that your employees are legally authorized to do their work wherever they move to. This often means applying for a work visa and keeping it updated for as long as they are abroad. The specific visa requirements employees need to meet depend on the country of residence, length of stay, and type of work.
If you have an employee who wants to travel while working, they will likely need to meet different requirements than those setting up long-term residence. It’s important to be thorough about the visa process and guarantee that you and your employee stay compliant at all times. If an employee ever needs to relocate urgently, it’s crucial to know your options for supporting them.
For many small and medium businesses, it isn’t feasible to continually maintain all the resources needed to support your employees working abroad. Between maintaining a legal team that can handle business in all countries and dealing with the intricacies of payroll and HR, international employee relocation can be costly. But it can also be costly to not allow international remote work.
Oyster is a global employment platform that can provide assistance in relocating employees globally as well as handle the sticky details for you and help you support your employees abroad with ease. From employee relocation and payroll to localized benefits and legal compliance, Oyster offers the services your business needs to thrive in the world of remote work.