Hybrid working and the rise of employee requests to work overseas: What employers should consider

28th November 2022

Hybrid working and the rise of employee requests to work overseas: What employers should consider

The worldwide lockdown experienced by most of us has in many cases led to a new era of flexible and remote working with many employers changing their working policies and procedures to accommodate what is arguably the new normal of working.

Recent surveys have shown that at interview, 77 per cent of candidates asked prospective employers if they offered hybrid working. This would suggest that many prospective employees do not consider applying to organisations who do not support some form of flexible working. Coupled with the current labour shortage this is going to ensure that the accommodation of flexible working will remain a key competitive challenge for employers looking to recruit and retain the best talent as we go into 2023.

For some employees the pandemic has led to them exploring relocation opportunities including family residences and homes abroad. In many cases the employer’s existing policies and procedures will not address this. Therefore, employers need to communicate to staff what is and is not acceptable in terms of home working or put in place an effective policy to cover this.

Assuming that the employee’s normal place of work is the UK, and their employer is a UK entity, there are many factors which businesses will need to consider when such requests are made. Different factors will apply to temporary working from abroad requests and more permanent working from abroad requests. Employers should consider the following:

  • Ensuring employees know that they need advance approval before working remotely abroad. An agreement in writing as to the agreed terms of their working from abroad period would be beneficial if appropriate in the circumstances
  • Considering if the employee can carry out their role effectively and lawfully from the country in which they are intending to work
  • Considering if any current home working or remote working policies need to be updated to cover working from abroad
  • Making sure reporting lines are going to work effectively and securely while the employee is working from abroad
  • Reviewing if any insured benefits such as private medical or death in service are impacted or invalidated

Employers need to ensure requests from employees and prospective employees are treated consistently and fairly. If an inconsistent approach is taken, an employer may face complaints of discrimination. However, some inconsistency may be necessary depending on the proposed location and whether the request is for hybrid working or a permanent relocation.

For requests to work abroad permanently or more than a few weeks or months, employers will need to consider local employment laws, data protection, immigration, jurisdictional and regulatory issues and tax and social security implications. Employers should also be mindful that the proposed location may be politically unstable or may have laws that are at odds with their core values for example, in respect of LGBT+ rights.

Requests to work abroad should be carefully considered by employers on a case by case basis ensuring that employees’ personal circumstances are considered.

If you would like to discuss any of the above matters or require any assistance with training or implementation of appropriate policies, please contact one of our Employment experts on 0161 832 3434.

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