Published on August 12, 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

To adequately meet (and exceed) client needs, usual policy allowances and benefits need to be continuously reviewed and evaluated. Below we outline new challenges and rising needs we are seeing in the field. Contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you adjust your policy or program.

Inconsistent Global Vaccine Programs: Different national (and state/city) approaches to vaccinations and inconsistent country and state legislation means that employee's access to vaccines varies based on their current location. Recent research by Towergate Health and Protections highlights the need for employers to monitor guidance in any location where they have or want to locate employees. According to the research “Overseas work is currently a minefield of misinformation and lack of detail. Employers need to be confident that they are keeping employees safe and not putting their own reputation at risk.”.

Why is this important to you? Employees crossing borders and having access to different vaccines, all while country-specific vaccine related legislation varies, may impact their ability to travel or quarantine requirements. It is important for employers to be aware of any additional costs that may be incurred if the vaccination status of the mobile employees does not match the destination country criteria. To check the latest details for a specific location, follow:

Continuing revised red list locations: Countries continue to make updates at short notice to the conditions of entry and countries on their ‘red’ lists. A recent example is Belgium who, on 30 July 2021, added a further 23 countries to those deemed “high-risk” and where there is an effective travel ban in place.

How does this affect me/my program? Measures are intended to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variants in the respective locations. However, the increased administration and tracking required by employers to enable the planning of transfers, assignment and business travel to/from these locations remains significant and increasingly complex.

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

Supply Chain Challenges: As reported in previous CapRelo Insider updates, capacity continues to be stretched throughout the supply chain, both within the US and globally. As a result, employee choice can be compromised in addition to increased costs to many services. Early booking and flexibility continue to be key to delivering a positive experience to employees.

Shipping at Capacity: Summer continues to be exceptionally busy both for international and US Domestic shipping. There is limited availability until the last 2 weeks of September, and we understand that all the national van lines are completely booked for this month. All methods are being utilized including PODs, Small shipment containers and self-moves through U-Haul. We will continue to update transferees and encourage booking transportation as early as possible.

Why is this important to you? Managing employee and business expectations about the current capacity limitations remains key. With limited availability, costs are increasing to reflect this scarcity in addition to labor shortages and fuel cost increases. Capacity issues may pose a challenge to the many families that are planning to move in advance of the start of the new school year.

Furniture Rental Inventory Challenges: Due to unprecedented high demand, the industry is reporting significant delays and inventory challenges. Suppliers are providing estimated timelines for both delivering and collecting furniture. New rental requests may take up to 14 business days to deliver and collection requires a minimum notice of 5-10 business days. In addition to the delays, suppliers are reporting a smaller selection of furniture (including both styles and selection), which will impact the choices available to the employee.

How does this affect me/my program? In addition to increased costs, in instances where furniture rental is not possible within the necessary timeframe, it may be necessary to provide support for the employee to purchase furniture or extend full service temporary living.

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:
    • Housing inventory: As the market starts to cool (slightly!) inventory is slowly returning. After several months of decreasing inventory some balance seems to be appearing in the US Domestic housing market. However, inventory continues to remain significantly lower when compared to this time last year.
    • Mortgage Assistance: Support for those individuals who have fallen behind on payments during the coronavirus pandemic has recently been announced by the White House. These measures are aimed at cutting some monthly payments by up to 25%. Additional details are available in the White House fact sheet.
    • Federal Housing Finance Agency Removed the Adverse Market Fee: Elimination of this fee is directed at families to enable them to take advantage of the current low-rate environment. Removed effective August 2021, the refinance fee historically required lenders to pay the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) a fee of 50 basis points when they deliver refinanced mortgages.

Why is this important to you? With historically low inventory, assistance for individuals unable to keep up with mortgage payments and the removal of the refinancing fee, relocating employees are likely to continue to find it easy to sell and challenging to buy a home. Employees are increasingly citing lack of housing options as a reason to refuse or delay relocating. Encouraging key talent to relocate by supporting temporary remote work or a later start date may be required.

  • Taxes:
    • Taxation of Remote Workers: Emergency regulations were issued by some states, including the State of Massachusetts, stating that when the employee “immediately prior to the Massachusetts COVID-19 state of emergency was an employee engaged in performing such services in Massachusetts, and who is performing services from a location outside Massachusetts due to a pandemic-related circumstance”, that income is taxable by the state of Massachusetts. Although New Hampshire sought to challenge the MA emergency coronavirus regulation, this has been denied.

How does this affect me/my program? Employers continue to be required to withhold income tax in all relevant jurisdictions where emergency or remote working legislation is in place. Massachusetts income tax will continue to impact employees up to the expiration date of the emergency regulations, which in the case of Massachusetts, is 15 September 2021.

  • Immigration:
    • Second H-1B Lottery Conducted for FY2022: The initial filing period of 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021 did not yield enough H-1B cap petitions. Therefore, in late July the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began contacting employers via e-mail about registrations that were selected in a second H-1B cap lottery for the 2022 fiscal year (FY).

How does this affect me/my program? Employers that submitted registrations but were not selected in the first lottery for the FY2022 H-1B cap should be made aware that these registrations may be chosen in the second lottery. No action is required for previously unselected registrations to be eligible for the second draw.

Belgium: Introduced in late 2020, a combined work and residence (single) permit was created for highly skilled and qualified workers. Although applications have been accepted since October last year, permits have yet to be issued due to a backlogged Council of State that must still render its advice on the final legislation. The publication and entry into force of EU ICT Permit has been postponed to the last quarter of 2021.

How does this affect me/my program? Employers looking to utilize these permits will need to wait until later in the year to benefit from the first truly intra-EU work authorization option. When issued, the expectation is that these permits will significantly reduce the risk of noncompliance and the administrative burden for employers seeking to assign eligible staff to multiple EU locations.

Canada: Re-Opening of borders for non-essential travel for the fully vaccinated: The reopening of borders will occur in in two phases. The first phase, effective 9 August 2021 impacts fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and green card holders currently residing in the U.S. In the subsequent phase, starting 7 September 2021 discretionary travel for fully vaccinated travelers from all other countries will be allowed.

How does this affect me/my program? Ensuring that the vaccination status of employees is known will enable companies to understand which employees are able to benefit from this announcement.

Finland: ‘Economic Employer’ Concept proposed: Effective from the start of 2022, the government has recently announced their plans to introduce the concept of an Economic Employer. The scope of the proposal includes provision to impact both long and short-term assignments and regular business travel.

How does this affect me/my program? If enacted, the amendments could lead to a significant expansion of foreign employees’ liability to pay taxes in Finland. Companies with planned or current assignments to Finland should evaluate the potential cost if this progresses.

New Zealand: Some of the uncertainty caused by the current COVID-19 restrictions have been addressed by the government who have announced several changes to the Essential Skills Visa, which will streamline certain processes and increase visa validity for those earning less than the median wage.

How does this affect me/my program? The purpose of the changes is to make it easier for businesses to continue employing their current migrant workers. Impacted employers should review the changes to understand how they are able to benefit.

Philippines: Increased restrictions announced: Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces have all been placed under general community quarantine from 1- 15 August 2021.

How does this affect me/my program? Companies operating within the impacted areas may want to contact employees affected by the restrictions and provide additional support as required.

United Kingdom:

· Travel from the US and India: Recent changes include more countries in the amber list. This means that travelers who have received the approved vaccinations no longer have to quarantine although a negative test prior to arrival and a test within 2 days of arrival are required.

How does this affect me/my program? Ensuring that the relevant employees are aware of these changes and taking advantage of the relaxation in legislation will reduce costs related to quarantine.

· Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot Announced: An announcement has been made for a new pilot five-year visa scheme favoring high-skilled refugees. Although impacting only a small number of individuals from Jordan and Lebanon, the concept of recognizing global talent is a positive step.

How does this affect me/my program? Separate from the scheme in the UK, companies are able to access talent through collaborating with the Talent Beyond Boundaries charity.

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