Published on January 29, 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.

Lunar New Year: The Lunar New Year, historically the world biggest annual migration event will run from 11-17 February 2021. With quarantine and other travel restrictions in place and likely to change at short notice, consider any company communication required to ensure business and necessary travel is unaffected by employee travel during this period..

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

Lockdown Pets Trend: During the pandemic, globally there has been a huge rise in pet ownership . As these individuals become international assignees, there is an expectation that their pets will be supported during the move, especially in the case of permanent transfers. Ensure that your policy benefits, both relocation, repatriation and housing are reflective of the support that will be provided to minimise the need for exceptions.

Assignment Accommodation Size: An increasingly common request, where individuals are expected to quarantine or work from home for an extended period in their assignment location is for larger temporary and permanent accommodation. The need for a ‘zoom room’ and private outside space is increasing and looks to be a longer term trend. With this size of accommodation in limited supply this will inevitably add a premium to suitable properties. To ensure that your policies support this change in preference and need, consider updating your policy or adding a pre-approved exception to meet the additional costs.

Travel Consent Form: With countries imposing additional conditions and restrictions with short notice (see this week’s example of the United Kingdom), it may be useful to ask all business travellers, not just assignees, to sign a travel consent forms to ensure that only essential and authorised business travel is undertaken and that there is an awareness and agreement to actual and potential costs. Documentation may include wording to clarify who would be liable to cover costs in the event that any business trip was extended for non business purposes. This documentation will both inform the individual of any personal liability they may be taking on and also support the business in tracking and approving the risks. Any form would be completed in advance of business travel. To reduce administration the company may choose to use one form to cover a set period or require that a form is completed for each trip. In either case, where possible, any document should be linked to the standard travel booking process.

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: According to the weekly Freddie Mac survey, rates have improve slightly and the market remains active. Home prices continue to appreciate depleting available inventory however despite this home sales are up 22 percent year over year.
• Travel: Further to previous extensions, President Biden has issued a proclamation that indefinitely extends and reinstates regional travel bans and suspensions which were due to expire. These measures are in addition to the existing requirement for all international travellers over the age of two to take a COVID-19 test prior to flying to the United States.

Belgium: In an innovative approach to reduce risk, Belgium is extending the requirement of ‘pre-tracing’ of foreign workers. Originally introduced in August 2020, employers of foreign workers in a limited number of sectors, namely construction, cleaning, meat, agriculture and horticulture sectors had been required to collate information and documentation for foreign workers prior to employment in Belgium. Effective 12 January 2021, this requirement has been extended, provisional until 1 March 2021, to all employers and users who temporarily make use of the services of an employee or self-employed person who resides or lives abroad and who comes to work in Belgium.

Czech Republic: Significant changes, effective 1 January 2021, including the introduction of new progressive taxation of individuals and the abolition of super-gross salary taxation and the solidarity tax surcharge, and will result in lower taxation for many employees. Recalculations should be completed to ensure cost estimates remain valid.

Hong Kong: In response to an increase in cases, the travel ban to include arrivals from Ireland and Brazil has been revised.

Japan: The business track with Korea has been placed on indefinite hold in an attempt to mitigate risk.

Philippines: The existing travel bans in the Philippines have been extended to 31 January 2021.

United Kingdom:
2019/20 UK Tax Return Extension: The UK Tax Authorities (HMRC) have announces a 1 month extension to the 2019/20 UK online personal tax filing deadline. To avoid any interest, all tax liabilities should still be settled by the original deadline of 31 January 2021, however the fixed penalty notice will not be imposed on returns filed online by 28 February 2021.
Travel: Foreign travellers are expected to be required to spend the 10 day quarantine period in hotels at their own expense. The anticipated cost to the individuals is expected to be approximately USD 2,050. Companies should consider how this will impact their policy relating to temporary accommodation for assignees and transfers and how related costs will be paid.
Brexit: Agreements and business considerations continue to be addressed on an ad hoc basis as individuals and companies alike get acquainted with the new conditions. In instances where no bilateral agreement is yet to be ratified, companies are advised to consult with their tax and immigration advisors to receive guidance in advance of committing to an assignment.

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