Published on June 03, 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.

DEI&B: As companies strive to ensure that their DEI&B initiatives progress, mobility teams have the opportunity to contribute through the review and revision of policies and documentation.

Why is this important to you?   Taking a proactive approach to making all documentation as inclusive as possible will support your business in diversifying the globally mobile population. Teams that are proactive in their review have the opportunity to demonstrate their strategic value to the wider organization. Contact us for assistance.

Vaccine Passports: With more countries indicating that vaccines will be central to their future travel guidelines, companies will increasingly need the ability to request, validate and accurately track and store this data. Where vaccinations are likely to become annual, complex tracking to monitor dates of vaccinations may become necessary. Ensuring that technology and country-specific internal guidelines regarding the capture of personal health information are in place will assist in ensuring future business continuity.

Why is this important to you?   Where rules and regulations are introduced including a vaccination component, companies need to ensure that they are informed of the requirements and employee rights in each location, in order to establish internal processes that are compliant and mitigate risk. Future considerations such as the ability for an unvaccinated child or partner to accompany an employee may impact an individual’s willingness to accept an assignment and should be considered.

Future Proofing Your Service Delivery

Shipping: With countries finally opening up at what is already usually the busiest time for relocating, shipping capacity is stretched to its limits. This is also being combined with increases in the cost of materials as previously reported, including cardboard and timber for crates. Lump sum flexibility or creative solutions may be required to ensure that employees are satisfied and reasonably able to complete their relocation with the budget provided.

Why is this important to you?   As costs continue to fluctuate in the short term, lump sum allowances and any estimates based on historic costs may no longer enable individuals to ship their goods. Even where funds are sufficient, availability means that the standard temporary accommodation period may not be sufficient for goods to arrive in time for employees to move into their permanent home.

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:

Office Re-Opening: With more offices fully opening and requiring employees to be back in the office, employees who delayed their relocation to avoid interrupting children’s schooling are now looking to relocate. Like the issues reported at a global level, domestic shipping for both relocation companies and self-move options is close to capacity. Significant delays should be anticipated in addition to increased costs.

How does this affect me/my program? Historic allowances or quotes may no longer be sufficient to support the relocation. In addition, the timing of relocation may be longer than expected in many circumstances.

Housing: Existing home sales are continuing to slowly decline as the cost of houses is continuing to increase. The median existing home sales price rose at an annual pace of 19.1% to USD 341,600, a record high since 1989.

How does this affect me/my program? Where companies offer BVO and GBO programs, elevated house prices may put the company at risk of additional costs where appraisal values are not met.

Housing: To try to differentiate themselves, potential buyers are sending ‘love letters’ accompanying offers.

How does this affect me/my program? Individuals disclosing buyer characteristics could violate fair housing laws, which state it is unlawful to consider an offer on that basis. Although employees act independently, this could cause reputational damage to a company. All housing decisions should be fact-based and avoid even the appearance of discrimination.

Vaccine Incentives: Over 50% of Americans have chosen to get vaccinated. Where businesses want to take advantage of available concessions for vaccinated employees (e.g., decreased quarantine or other travel restrictions), it has been clarified by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in updated guidance that it is possible for companies to offer incentives as long as these are not coercive.

How does this affect me/my program: Employers may recognize some reduced cost for vaccinated assignees traveling between certain locations. Companies are encouraged to partner closely with their HR, legal, immigration, travel, and DE&I teams in order to ensure that assignment and travel opportunity selection is not biased or coercive in nature.

Argentina: A series of 48 hour strikes by dockworkers and maritime unions in the country’s key Port of Rosario over access to COVID-19 vaccinations has significantly impacted shipping capacity and delayed several ships clearing the port. Although the main impact thus far is agricultural produce, this could set a precedent for other workers who lack access to a relevant vaccine.

How does this affect me/my program? Impact is currently limited, but industrial action over vaccine access may be seen in other locations in future.

Canada: Effective 1 June 2021, enhanced mortgage stress tests will be faced by Canadian homebuyers that will decrease the buying power of most borrowers. The new tests will affect those applying for or renewing a mortgage however is likely to disproportionately impact first time buyers who often are required to maximize borrowing to afford their first home.

How does this affect me/my program? Where employees are looking to purchase a home in Canada, their budget may now be reduced which may impact the attractiveness of the relocation.

India: India’s Port of Pipavav temporary suspended operations from 27 May 2021 until 1 June 2021 in response to Cyclone Tauktae, which was categorized as “extremely severe” and one of the worst Arabian Sea-cyclones to hit India in a decade.

How does this affect me/my program? Although the infrastructure of the port appears intact, the disruption will further impact shipping in the area and slow already-delayed deliveries.

United Kingdom: In response to the new virus variant, some countries are introducing additional restrictions on travelers entering from the United Kingdom. These include France, Austria and Germany. Restrictions vary but include both providing a negative COVID-test upon entry into the country a minimum of 48 hours prior to arrival and self-isolation if they plan to stay more than 72 hours in the country. No exemption has been introduced for those who have been fully or partially vaccinated. A concession may apply in some locations to truck drivers however these may be removed if the variant remains of sufficient concern.

How does this affect me/my program? Shipments and individuals may be delayed or unable to travel due to these new restrictions. The testing requirements may also vary per country, and obtaining the relevant negative test within the timeframe may significantly increase cost of travel from the United Kingdom.

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