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. 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 – see our previous blog for insights. We continue to see new exception requests and the need for flexible interpretation of policies. We have summarized recent inquiries below for you to consider to avoid exceptions, discuss and document some parameters to ensure consistency:
More food please: As mobile employees are confined to 14 days quarantine or self-isolation their usual expenses or ability to cook their own meals is often removed. Where the existing policy only covers restaurant meals, consider a grocery allowance or allowing a capped reimbursement of groceries or additional meals to cover this period
More time please: Where benefits are time limited e.g. storage and temporary housing, increasing requests to extend to account for quarantine period is evident. If current temporary housing is only 30 days and quarantine is for 14, is it possible for the relocating employee to find and moving into longer term housing after this expires? In the United States there have also been delays in appraisals (see below) which are impacting the need for temporary living. Employers may want to consider a pre-approved exception to ensure consistent treatment for all employees or setting parameters on a per country basis
More on ground support please: As green lanes and safe lists change frequently and at short notice, employees are left unable to easily search or navigate their new locations independently. The need for employees to access local services and support is increasingly evident. Employers may want to consider putting a direct bill process in place to enable employees to access support
More baggage allowance please: The reliability of Air Shipments to bridge the gap between the original move and the receipt of goods transported by land/sea has been significantly impacted. Our providers have indicated a threefold increase to supplementary charges in addition to increase in actual freight costs. With air freight logistics highly volatile and subject to change at short notice employees are being impacted. Where a lump sum budget was used to cover Household good removals this may no longer be sufficient. Employers may want to consider options such as:
- Include a supplemental allowance to cover increased costs
- Deliver the service in place of a fixed allowance
- Allow additional excess baggage to transport urgent equipment e.g. supplies to enable remote working
Future Proofing Your Service Delivery
Regional Staging: Where it is important or contractually required to have an in-person or in time-zone presence, companies are increasingly looking at creating assignments to future proof business through regional staging of employees. This means that individuals are being placed at key locations around the globe in areas where there are travel corridors or bubbles exist with key countries. This is of particular significance for US companies where travel restrictions are currently making entry into key locations challenging. Consideration should be given to any tax and immigration implications of this approach. Employers should review their future customer support obligations and expectations and ensure that the right employees are re-located to key market locations in travel corridors/bubbles/lanes to ensure quick access without the need to quarantine
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:
- Simplification of tax filing for international employees in California: A.B. 2660 has officially passed. Under A.B. 2660, companies can now file on behalf of employees which should save significant time and costs.
- I-9 document inspection: The remote I-9 document inspection policy has been further extended by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through to 19 November 2020. The expectation remains that this concession will remain in place until the announced extension or until 3 days after the national emergency is over, whichever comes first.
- Mexico and Canada Travel: The U.S. legislation restricting non-essential travel introduced in March has been further extended until 21 October, 2020.
- House Sales: Despite a decline in consumer confidence and a rise in delinquent single-family home mortgages, according to Wells Fargo, US home sales have exceeded expectations as pent up demand is released. The sales have left inventories low and should encourage further home building.
- Appraisal Delays: Due to record mortgage origination volume and the pandemic, the mortgage industry is experiencing appraisal delays in certain markets. These delays are putting additional strains on the system that may lead to delayed closings.
- Voting from Abroad: Where requested, U.S. citizens who asked for an electronic ballot should now have received one to enable them to vote from abroad. Where not received, they should contact their local election office as soon as possible.
China: Effective 28, September 2020, entry will be possible to Mainland China for foreign nationals without applying for a new visa if they hold valid Mainland Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and family reunion.
Canada: The suspension of non-essential entry for foreign travellers who arrive from a country other than the United States is extended until 30 September 2020 and for the United States until 21, October 2020.
Japan: Japan has opened the Business Track to business travellers of any nationality travelling from Singapore for up to 30 days effective 18, September 2020. As the travel bubble becomes more established there may be an increase in travel in this area.
- Immigration Extension: Where an individual holds a valid visa, measures have been announced that this legal status will extended for a fifth (and potentially final time) until 20, January 2021.
- Green List: Irish borders remain open with the requirement to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine unless from a green list country. Effective 21, September 2020 the green list was updated with the removal of Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Italy, Norway and Slovakia and addition of Cyprus, Germany, Iceland and Poland.
- Country and Regional Lockdown Variations: Guidance, encouraging working from home where possible, has been reintroduced. In addition, legislation has been passed limiting the number of households that can meet. Country variations apply, for example in England, regional lockdowns apply for cities including Bolton, Greater Manchester and Leicester, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Earlier Last Orders: In the face of rising cases, further domestic restrictions are being introduced including the curtailment of opening hours of restaurants and pubs.
- Changes to Travel Corridors: The requirement to self-isolate for 14 days had been removed for Singapore and Thailand and effective 4am on 19, September 2020 introduced for Guadeloupe and Slovenia.
- Safe List: Recommended ‘Safe List’ continues to be maintained on a bi-weekly basis with variations applied on a per country basis. As of writing, the list included 11 non-EU locations
- Common Criteria Proposals: The Commission is working to proposes Common criteria and thresholds for Member States to use to ensure consistency when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions
New Zealand: New Zealand’s border remains closed to most travellers however effective early October2020 two new inbound exceptions are planned, although both will include a period of isolation and quarantine. There will be a concession for temporary workers with essential skills who previously resided in New Zealand. In addition, partners of citizens and residents will now be able to enter the country without their resident family member if conditions are met.