By Mark Woefel, GMS, Vice President, Global Client Services
The CapRelo Insider provides a glimpse at news, trends and happenings in the global mobility industry and those affecting the 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. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us today.
What you need to know now...
United States: President Trump has made his protectionist stance explicit in his recent presidential executive order putting pressure on government agencies to review their use of non-immigrant workers and overseas labor. By mid-September, the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security must take steps to ensure that the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers are not adversely affected by H-1B workers.
Quarantine Costs: As a period of quarantine is becoming part of the ‘new normal’ for travel, ensure that your assignment and business traveler policies clearly communicate parameters of support. This proactive approach will enable the capture of these associated costs in any budgeting prior to travel.
Costs for mandatory quarantines can include one or more COVID-19 tests, obtaining a letter to travel in addition to stays in government mandated locations. By clarifying what is covered within approved business expenses and if any quarantine time counts toward the overall time provided as temporary living, employees will be treated consistently, and costs will be anticipated rather than reported via the exception request process.
Insider Tip: Contact your Client Services rep for help if you feel your policy doesn’t meet these coverage suggestions.
Homeworking and Duty of Care: Results from the Oliver Wyman global survey #5 reveal that 75% of companies are changing their philosophies and policies to encourage their workforce to work flexibly.
- Temperature: In the short-term, as temperatures across the globe start to soar, employees used to working in air conditioned and temperature-regulated offices are starting to feel the heat. Employee working conditions must remain the responsibility of the employer in most locations and these must be "reasonable".
There is no maximum temperature documented although in the UK the TUC guidelines give 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and in Australia if it reaches 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) you must have 20 minutes off per hour in an air conditioned environment. Where flexible working is possible, i.e. shifting work hours to a cooler part of the day, companies may want to communicate recommended coping techniques to ensure that employees feel supported and stay healthy.
- Employee Health and Safety: In the longer term, work with your wider HR team to ensure that your company’s remote work policy is established and covers the currently enlarged workforce and any locations that the assignee is being asked to work in, including temporary accommodation. Where risk assessments have not been completed, ensure that these are scheduled at the earliest opportunity to avoid any future claims from employees.
- Data Privacy: Where working from home or a non-office location is required or requested, client and company data privacy should be maintained. Now that mandatory working from home orders are being relaxed in many countries, ensuring that any agreed working location has and continues to maintain the appropriate level of security should be addressed. For those employees with no separate office space, sharing a table or room with employees from other companies, a review of how data privacy is ensured should be reviewed and, where relevant, changes made.
Insider Tip: One of CapRelo’s areas of expertise is data security. Contact your Client Services rep for help and suggestions.
What you should keep in mind...
Policy Considerations: As new moves start to happen in the ‘new normal’ work environment, companies are starting to see trends in exception requests and can take this opportunity to review mobility policies to make sure they are flexible enough to meet current requirements.
Early identification and communication of any changes and expectations can help to minimize exception requests, reduce administration burden, and ensure consistency across mobile populations. Below are a couple of immediate areas that can be addressed in the short term through a review and amendment of existing policies:
- Qualifying criteria for additional temporary housing: Where it has been possible to relocate assignees quickly there may be a delay in the release or transportation of household goods that necessitates an increase in the length temporary housing. Consider adding additional qualifying periods to policies.
- Repayment agreement terms and conditions: For assignees who have started their assignment while still in the home location or assignees who have unexpectedly returned to the home location, there may be a new unwillingness to relocate. Review the policy repayment terms to ensure it adequately covers the company for the repayment or cessation of allowances solely related to the host location e.g. hardship payments, relocation allowance. The policy should clearly state any allowances that need to be repaid, the time frame to repay, and any claw-back provisions.
Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to introduce and change their travel restrictions and quarantine measures in response to both corona virus-related and political circumstances. The EU guidelines or ‘greenlist' is officially updated every two (2) weeks but implementation can vary by location. Changes happen at short notice and all travelers are recommended to review current guidelines and information immediately prior to travel to ensure compliance with the latest guidelines.
Requirement to present a negative test: The requirement to hold a COVID-19 negative test result in advance of admittance into a location is now standard. However, the time frame and verification of the result by local consulates varies globally and travelers can be denied entry if their certification is not in line with the national guidelines.
For example, in Russia, starting 1 August, the employer must verify the result and in China the local consulate must review the negative result along with an application form and issue a Health Declaration Letter. As different governments introduce guidance quickly, local consulates or employers may not have processes in place to provide the necessary documents within the time frame. Additionally, timing and validity around the negative test and travel/arrival to the new location is paramount.
Singapore: Further to the introduction of electronic monitoring by Oman, effective 10th August, all incoming travellers, including Singapore Citizens, will need to wear an electronic monitoring device throughout the 14-day stay at home notice period.
Partner Resource: Global Travel and Immigration Impact
Newland Chase also continues to maintain a Travel and Immigration Guide updated twice daily. The guide includes individual country reports, which can be accessed here.