Published on April 22, 2021

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The CapRelo Insider provides a glimpse at news, trends and happenings affecting the global mobility industry. Our experienced and tenured client services team provides updates and analysis direct to our clients, along with policy and program recommendations that are best for your company and employees. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.

Policy & Program Pointers

During these extreme times, usual policy allowances and benefits might not be meeting employee needs. Below we outline items we are seeing in the field. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you adjust your policy or program to accommodate your employees.

Vaccinations: As countries start to roll out concessions and information related to vaccinated individuals it may become relevant to track the vaccination status of currently mobile and potentially mobile employees. However, this is a complex area and consideration should be given to ensure that there is compliance in all global locations. Whereas employer rights to mandate vaccinations is generally available in the U.S., this is not the case globally. In addition, the storage and access to personal medical information may need specific processes to ensure compliance with data security.

Back to Work models: With the reopening of some offices and the general expectation that widespread vaccinations will enable companies to reopen offices to the majority of staff, companies, even within similar industries are taking different approaches. Some tech firms including Facebook are supporting a longer-term work from home environment however some, like Google are planning for individuals to return to the office for at least 3 days a week. Financial firms are equally divergent on this matter with Goldman Sachs mandating a full return to office working. In contrast, HSBC’s CEO Noel Quinn said that the firm is embracing a “hybrid working” model and plans to reduce its workspace by 40%. Whatever your company approach the management of a fully office based or hybrid model will require changes to working practices and workspaces and will impact mobility programs. Where an office culture re-emerges this is likely to be accompanied by a requirement for longer term assignments and permanent transfers. Where a more remote working approach is introduced, the extended business trip and virtual assignment policies may become more prevalent.

Reviewing policy suites to ensure that they are in line with company office culture will ensure that the mobility team can remain flexible and support companies approaches.

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

Shipping: There have been no significant changes to the global shipping news this week with both shipping containers and space to unload at ports in short supply. Some suppliers are also noting that all ships are also fully utilized in addition to able seaman to man them leaving no excess capacity in the supply chain. As such delays are likely and alternatives are unavailable. Early booking continues to be advised in addition to an expectation of continuing higher prices.

Country Updates in the News

Countries are updating their tax and immigration regulations and reliefs on a near daily basis, we have collated some of these below:

United States:

  • Housing: As previously reported, home prices in the U.S. continue to rise as demand continues to outstrip supply resulting in homes on the market for an average of 23 days and more than 40% of homes selling for more than their list price.
    • BVO and GBO Programs: Due to the speed of movement of the U.S. housing market these programs may become problematic for companies with employees receiving offers in excess of the list price. With the current speed of inflation there is a risk that appraisal values may lag behind leaving a gap in the financing available to the potential purchaser. In these instances where financing is required prices may need revising down creating additional cost to the company or unexpectedly adding houses to their inventory. Consideration of these factors may require policy amendments or some pre-approved exceptions to support current circumstances. Possible mitigation is available by a decision to waive the appraisal contingency or accept cash offers.
    • Benefit Exceptions: Transferring employees may find it difficult to locate a house within the usual home search period and may need to rent or have additional support.
    • Working from Home: With companies now clarifying their policy on ‘back to office’ arrangements, significant numbers of employees are making the permanent shift to work from home for at least part of the week enabling them to consider buying property in alternative locations to their office. Support for this population may require policies and benefits to ensure that they remain engaged with the company, healthy and productive in their chosen environment.

Australia: An Australia and New Zealand quarantine free travel bubble has opened, effective Monday 19 April 2021. Under the new rules, passengers will not be allowed to travel if they had a positive Covid-19 test in the previous 14 days or present flu-like symptoms. They must also have spent the 14 days before departure in either Australia or New Zealand.

Belgium: Effective 19 April 2021, reflecting recent reductions in cases, non-essential travel for travellers from EU countries will be permitted.

Argentina: The government has enacted a decree extending obligatory social distancing until at least the end of April 2021, for the Buenos Aires metropolitan region. There are also restrictions on other activities e.g., shopping, restaurants, etc.

Czech Republic: Following similar action by other counties, the Czech Ministry of Finance has issued new COVID-19 relief measures waiving penalties assessed for some late filed 2020 income tax returns and related late payment interest, and interest on the deferred tax amount. Along with other measures this is aimed at reducing the burden on taxpayers.

India: In contrast to positive news in March and discussion on the reopening of businesses and offices, a recent significant spike in reported daily COVID-19 infections has unsustainable pressure on the country's health infrastructure. Each receiving Indian state has autonomy to implement its own protocol with regards to quarantine, health and entry requirements and advice should be sought prior to travel.

Ireland: In recognition of the positive impact of vaccines, Ireland has made a decision to allow fully vaccinated travellers to quarantine at home instead of in a government facility. It may be advisable to document which employees have been vaccinated to ensure that any relaxations in quarantine concessions are utilized.

Nigeria: Effective from 1 April 2021, a new rule has been introduced stating that all expatriates, including nationals of the Economic Community of West African States, must present evidence of having made a tax payment in order to renew their resident and work permits by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). Compliance with this new requirement will mean additional steps are required. Expectations and current timelines should be adjusted to reflect this.

United Kingdom: Effective 23 April 2021, in a response to the recent rise in reported cases, India will be added to the ‘red list travel ban countries. Concessions apply to UK and Irish nationals, UK visa holders and permanent residents who will be permitted entry from India.

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