Published on June 17, 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.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate aka the ‘COVID Passport’: Further to previous reports this is currently being issued by 13 EU Member States including (Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Spain). Sixteen other countries have successfully tested the digital infrastructure and are likely to begin issuing the certificates shortly. The expectation is that the certificate will be issued and accepted in all EU Member States by 1 July with a phasing in period of six weeks where required.

Why is this important to you?   The certificate offers qualifying individuals the opportunity to streamline travel to EU countries that recognize the certificate. However, entry restrictions will continue to be regulated on a national level, so travellers should check individual country rules prior to traveling.

Working from Home: As larger companies like Facebook start to add salary reduction conditions when offering the option to work from home on a permanent or partial basis, other companies may choose to adopt a similar approach. Any formal decisions would need updates to contracts or documentation to enable companies to plan office spaces and infrastructure to support the workforce accordingly.

Why is this important to you?   Although mainly relevant to locally hired employees, mobile employees may expect or request to complete some of their relocated work from a home or alternative environment. Ensure that policies are flexible enough to adapt to these requests. 

Vaccine Concessions: As additional countries continue to reduce travel and quarantine restrictions associated with vaccinated individuals, ensure that your program has a policy and process to request and securely store vaccine information for mobile employees and their families (where relevant).

Why is this important to you?   As quarantine and other associated travel costs may be significantly impacted by these concessions, ensuring that processes are in place to track and take advantage of any concession will ultimately reduce costs and may improve employee experience.

 

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

Short Notice Travel Changes: In this ever-changing environment, employees moving across borders will inevitably experience challenges when travel requirements/ restrictions change at short notice. Newland Chase have developed a tool which provides carefully curated and daily-validated visa information, entry restrictions, health requirements, transit rules, in-country experience, and guidance for re-entry to the employee point of origin.

Why is this important to you?   Employees have multiple considerations throughout their move and assignment where they interact with multiple vendors and points of contact. Communicating and understanding the interaction of changing global travel restrictions may fall through the gaps with the combination of pre-assignment trips, outbound, return flights in addition to home leave or vacations travel. Ensuring that communication and tools are up to date and available will help to protect the employee and company from unexpected delays and costs.

Shipping: According to Interconex, the summer of 2021 is “the most challenging peak season our industry has faced in decades”. The main issue surrounds capacity with the recent increase in demand coupled with a reduced workforce meaning that many shipping companies have limited remaining capacity in June with many booked out until mid July. In addition to the reduced availability, as previously reported, shortage of materials including cardboard and lumber means that costs associated with shipping are also increasing. The international situation is also evident in the US Domestic market.

Why is this important to you?   Delayed shipments or availability of shipping will adversely impact the employee experience and may increase costs through the necessity to increase temporary housing or other associated benefits.


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:

Household goods: High quality removal companies have significant capacity issues with a lead time of upwards of 6 weeks. With a fast-moving housing market and a reduced rental inventory, delays to closing dates or extensions to rental agreements are harder to negotiate.

How does this affect me/my program? Employees may feel that they have no option but to book local removal companies. Any unvetted removal company has associated quality or underinsurance risk which may impact the employee experience. Working with employees to set expectations about current delays and the need for early booking will minimize disruption.

Temporary Housing: In addition to the above reported shipping and household good removal capacity constraints, our housing partners are also raising concerns around the availability of temporary housing within the United States. Inventory, especially of 3-bedroom properties, has decreased through the pandemic period to reduce the risk to landlords of holding on to unoccupied property. Due to limited supply, there is increasingly a need to immediately select a property following viewing to secure the unit. In addition, the limited availability is driving up prices and often a longer lease terms may be required to secure a property, increasing overall costs. The current recommendation from our network is to encourage a decision on a property to be made within 30-60 minutes of offering. Increasingly apartments are being leased unseen with only online viewings available. In the longer term, it is expected that availability, inventory and cost will return to pre-COVID; however, expectations should be set with employees that this may take some time.

How does this affect me/my program? Communicate with employees to set expectations of the current market. Where there is a group move or it is possible to predict a need for temporary housing in a specific location, notify us at the earliest opportunity such that we may work with our partner network to secure suitable accommodation. Without planning, costs to accommodate temporary accommodation, especially for group moves will increase dramatically.

Australia: Australian Superannuation Guarantee (‘SG’) is set to increase from 9.5 percent to 10 percent of employees’ ‘ordinary time earnings’ from 1 July 2021.

How does this affect me/my program? Employers should consider the impact that the update will have to both employment costs and employees’ total remuneration. Assignment costs will increase where contributions for expatriates on assignment are required.

Canada: Preparations are being made to ease quarantine rules for vaccinated travelers. Expectations are that the current 14-day isolation requirement will be shortened for those that have been fully vaccinated. A formal announcement is expected shortly. Separately, an announcement is expected relating to restrictions specific to the U.S border may be loosened from as early as 22 June.

How does this affect me/my program? As restrictions relating to vaccinated employees are announced, ensuring that processes are in place to take advantage of any changes will enable associated costs to be minimized.

China: In addition to the general capacity issues reported above, a spike in COVID cases in the Chinese province of Guangzhou has further exacerbated the situation. As this area is home to some of Asia’s most vital ports, a reduction in capacity in this area may significantly delay global traffic.

How does this affect me/my program? Current forecasts are that the delays caused will have equal if not stronger impact than the incident in the Suez Canal with similar ongoing ripple effects into the coming months. Delays and increased costs are likely to result from this disruption.

France: Following significant restrictions on movement and travel, from 9 June, the flow of travelers between France and foreign countries will be reopened under strict conditions. The level of restriction applied will vary depending on the traffic light health category, green, orange and red, in “departure” countries and the vaccination status of travelers.

How does this affect me/my program? Restrictions have been lifted for travelers from France to a country outside of the EU; however, this varies based on the country of departure and individual vaccination status. As such, careful monitoring of current conditions and classification will be required to remain compliant.

United Kingdom:

  • EU Settlement Scheme: The standard deadline for individuals to apply for the EU Settlement scheme is 30 June 2021. Eligible individuals should apply to ensure that the relevant status is granted and can be extended to relevant connected persons.

How does this affect me/my program? Where qualifying individuals do not apply by the deadline, they may no longer have the automatic right to work, study, access public funds and/or services or travel into and out of the UK.

  • Lockdown conditions extended: Due to a rise in the delta variant, the government of the United Kingdom has decided to delay full easing of restrictions by 4 weeks.

How does this affect me/my program? Additional planning to flex policies, meetings and events to comply with the current restrictions may impact your business or program.

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