Managing an employee who works abroad

Wednesday July 21, 2021

Managing remote workers became a necessity for many employers during the pandemic. Since then, some have found that there are mutual benefits to be gained from working in this way and have decided to continue the practice post lockdown.

With a good internet connection, it’s possible to have employees working for you from anywhere in the world. At least that’s a common perception and desirable perk associated with remote working.

In fact, it’s not unheard of for a home worker to suddenly move abroad without even telling their employer! This can cause all sorts of legal complications, which is why it’s so important to determine the terms of a remote working arrangement from the start.

A benefit to expanding your workforce overseas is that when location doesn’t limit your hiring practice, the talent pool can reach far and wide. This provides ample opportunities for you to create your dream team.

However, to protect your business and employees, it’s vital to consider all of the legal and logistical elements involved when managing an employee abroad.

Managing the admin

As with all working arrangements, there is HR, employment law and tax to consider, which will differ depending on the location of the employee.

There are tax and potentially immigration rules to be mindful of, too. Does the employee have the legal right to work in the country? How long will they be working there for? These are important factors which need to be established early on and will inform your payroll process.

If they need residency status to work, you could be subject to local employment law. This can mean that the employee is entitled to different employment rights.

You’ll need to check with the country in question to make sure your arrangement remains compliant for the duration of their employment.

This also applies for health and safety. You have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of all employees. A new risk assessment should take place.

Employment contracts should be amended or created specifically for those working for your business abroad, and policies should be updated to factor in things like the safe handling and security of data overseas.

Most working from home clauses keep a requirement to attend the office for training and team building, but with Covid restrictions will this be possible?

Managing the day to day

Many employers will have had the opportunity to trial run remote working during the pandemic and will know how important it is to have strong communication skills at both ends.

This is even more important when an employee is working abroad. There could be language, cultural and time differences to think about.

Flexi-hours can help your team to communicate across time zones, whilst a focus on inclusivity that embraces your multi-national team can keep them feeling connected and appreciated.

How will you keep your remote workers motivated and engaged? A set schedule of video meetings can keep communication flowing and allow you the opportunity to regularly check in on outstanding work. E-learning can facilitate remote training, often in multiple languages.

Collaboration software and workplace instant messaging can be useful for quick updates on tasks; whilst deadlines are useful for time management to guide those who are less disciplined when working alone.

Employee well-being is also important. For the times that you can’t be there in person to offer support, an Employee Assistance Programme provides professional counselling over the phone.

When it comes to requesting holiday or reporting sickness absence, HR software like The HR Dept Toolkit gives easy online access to all employees, no matter where they are. It also keeps important records in one place.

Advice on difficult days

When you work with people, every day can be different. There isn’t always a clear-cut answer to managing a people problem, especially if your team is internationally dispersed.

For the times when you need a second opinion on an HR issue, remember that our Advice Line is here to help.

Preventing People Problems

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