With travel opening up this summer, you may well see some employees asking to work for extended periods from warmer, drier climes if they have the chance to spend a few weeks abroad. With the advances in remote working during Covid, you may be happy to try to accommodate them, but there are a number of legal issues you’ll need to consider first.
You’ll have to think about more than just any time differences between their location and the UK. Issues like foreign country employment rights, data protection and tax issues can possibly trip you up if you’re not aware of them.
Big issues don’t tend to come up for short stays, like a two-week holiday, but if your employee is planning to work remotely in another country for a few weeks, this is when problems can arise.
We recommend adapting your remote working policy to cover working from abroad, when faced with this situation, especially if your employees have holiday homes or family overseas. When family is involved, this issue could become an emotional one, so it’s best to have a clear and consistent policy to guide your decisions.
Here is our employer checklist to get you started.
- Employment rights
Check whether, despite having a UK employer, employees can gain international employment rights when working abroad for an extended period of time.
This can affect elements like annual leave entitlement, holiday pay, minimum wage, maternity leave and even termination rights.
- Health and safety
It can be difficult to look after your employee’s health and safety while they’re working abroad – you can’t expect them to take their home office chair in their luggage!
However, you will still have obligations to ensure your employee’s health and safety, so it is important to discuss a risk assessment with them in advance, looking at things like how they will make use of any equipment that you have approved, such as a work laptop.
You and they will also need to consider the laws of the country they’re planning to work from, as differences could apply.
- Data protection
When employees start working remotely, a whole host of data security issues need to be considered to avoid risks of personal data breaches and to keep confidential information secure. When that remote working is overseas, whether in the EU or beyond, you’ll need to consider the implications under UK GDPR of any personal data transfers outside the UK.
For example, get them to check how secure any WiFi connection will be.
- Non-UK nationals
If you employ any sponsored migrants who want to spend some time working from abroad, things can become even more tricky.
Working abroad could invalidate their sponsorship if it effectively demonstrates that they can do their job from outside the UK, so you may need to take immigration advice on this.
Tax can become an issue for longer-term international stays, so it’s always best to check whether the proposed length of their stay could change their tax treatment.
Adjusting for international remote working is possible, and it may well be an attractive benefit for some staff, but it will need some effort on both sides to arrange.
We recommend reaching out to specialist experts if you have any questions regarding overseas working. You can contact our HR experts for UK advice and to help point you in the direction of any other specialist advice you may need, by getting in touch on 0333 014 3888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The content of this blog is for general information only. Please don’t rely on it as legal or other professional advice as that is not what we intend. You can find more detail on this in our Terms of Website Use. If you require professional advice, please get in touch.
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