For global HR professionals, the last few months spent navigating the response to the COVID19 outbreak have been a challenging and worrying experience. As more and more companies expand beyond their home markets, HR responsibilities and management of employees have become spread over a wider network of regions – and when unexpected challenges fall upon remote assignees, a dynamic response is needed.
Some employees are requesting moves to be nearer family or access better healthcare during the virus and travel lockdowns. Others who are ordinarily frequent travellers have found themselves confined to one location. With many team members now situated in countries outside of their norm, Mauve is experiencing requests for support from managers who want to ensure they are following the local rulebook.
These clients are right to do so – although many allowances are being made by governments due to the unprecedented nature of the crisis, employers still have a duty to employ their staff compliantly in-country. During an already concerning time, international workers do not need added stresses caused by the incompliant practices of their superiors, and nor do employers want the headaches of unforeseen risks or penalties from local authorities further down the line.
In this week’s blog, we delve into three key areas where compliance still needs to be factored in HR – even in the face of a global pandemic.
Following the confusion of the fast-paced and widespread shutdowns that occurred last month in response to COVID19, many companies are now taking stock of where their overseas workers are currently situated, and the impacts this could have on their payroll. Timely payroll is vital to ensure compliance and morale amidst the various concerns of the pandemic.
Managers of overseas staff should make sure they are aware of where each staff member is currently registered for payroll, and whether this differs from the location in which they are currently working. If the worker is not in their country of payroll, confirm whether they have access to their funds – it may be worth finding an arrangement whereby they can receive some remuneration in their current country.
If you manage payroll inhouse, check you have all the local information you need to continue making payments – have the banks made any adjustments to the way in which funds are paid? If you are utilising the services of a local accountant or payroll provider, double-check their operations are continuing as normal during the lockdown, particularly if their staff are working from home. COVID19 has had drastic impacts on markets which has in turn impacted exchange rates – as always, if you are making payments overseas, bear the potential shortfalls and adjustments in mind.
What fiscal measures have been released by governments in the country in question? Many have announced a host of measures to ensure workers are not out of pocket, so they continue to spend and boost the local economy. There may be measures that benefit your business and are applicable to your employees. Mauve Group is monitoring all fiscal directive announcements on a daily basis; updates can be found in this live blog.
Our teams in Payroll and Compliance have been supporting clients by providing interim Global Payroll services while their workers are situated in a different location and require local funds. Our payroll services can go further by assessing fiscal impacts, liabilities or risks that may arise for clients from adapting their in-country business to new circumstances, including if there is any risk of permanent establishment if paying staff members in a new location. By creating bespoke payroll and compliance reports, we are helping companies to become more efficient by indicating new governmental economic measures available to their business or workers.
2. Local Employment and Contracts
Some countries have announced protections for workers such as the inability to terminate contracts for a certain time period – this restriction has just been announced for a three-month period in in Saudi Arabia, for example. Non-compliance with local employment laws could result in financially-damaging tribunal, penalties and blacklisting. It is important to ensure your contracts and human resources procedures adhere to local laws if you are employing staff outside your normal jurisdiction or knowledge. Employee handbooks may also need to be updated with relevant employment advice in the face of new directives. An HR risk assessment report can help to flag any concerns or issues for the specific circumstances of your case.
With the uncertainty around the length of time current measures will continue for, Employer of Record solutions can provide a good interim solution while plans are confirmed for the long-term. Some clients may be unsure about the long-term viability of their product or service in an overseas market, but need staff on-the-ground for the time being. Others may be considering their long-term costs and require a cost-efficient employment solution without the need for an expensive entity set-up. Whatever the reason, if staff need to be employed overseas on a short or long-term basis, an Employer of Record solution could be the answer.
As a result of many countries being in lockdown, the majority of workers are confined to one location and will not be undertaking business travel for the foreseeable future. It is easy then to forget the importance of immigration compliance – however, by being proactive now, companies ensure they have plans in place to avoid penalties, visa rejections and other challenges when applications and renewals next need to be made .
Do any staff have visas or permits with imminent expiries? Has their country of work provided extensions to visas and permits? Another important consideration is assisting with repatriation flights for workers on international assignments during border lockdowns, or supporting families of international assignees.
Mauve Group is monitoring immigration updates from our in-country partners on a day-to-day basis, and can provide unparalleled advice across our network. When movement is limited globally, we can review immigration requirements and offer much needed travel support through our Global Visa and Immigration services.