Impact of COVID-19 on your globally mobile employees


Currently, most companies have employees who are business travelers or who work (and live) in a different country due to assignments, intracompany moves, projects, etc. The continued spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) confronts the Global Mobility function of organisations with multiple complexities of managing these employees.

As safety and welfare of employees is the top priority for all organisations, the first challenge is to decide on an approach for ongoing international assignments. Whether organisations decide on continuity in the assignment country, temporary or permanent repatriation to home or a third country or a mixed approach, the Global Mobility function is required to factor in several consequences following the decision such as safety of assignees, travel restrictions, medical coverage, accelerated relocation to name a few. Whereas such decisions for business travelers may seem more easy to take (they can mostly return quickly to their home country), support also needs to be provided in order to ensure a safe return. In addition, any impact on ongoing business needs attention regardless of the cross border situation. 

Stakeholder involvement has always been crucial in the world of Global Mobility due to its complex nature, but the need to involve the right stakeholders during this pandemic in the decision-making phase is even becoming increasingly important. Matching an assignee’s decision to business needs, talent planning and legislative requirements calls for inputs from multiple stakeholders at the right time.

During this time of uncertainty where temporary repatriation, temporary unemployment, special working provisions is becoming rampant, effectively managing the assignment allowances and entitlements will ensure a better business and assignee stakeholder experience. There could be a need to provide additional relocation support such as storage of household goods, temporary housing, transportation support, per-diems etc. An effective compensation data collection and reporting process allows organisations to know the actual cost related to the internationally mobile population and eliminate compliance or tax and social security reporting risks. 

 While the approach on upcoming assignments or repatriations might still be unknown to most organisations, the Global Mobility world also has to continue ensuring an effective management of their current assignees and assignments together with considering risks and implications such as Permanent Establishment, income tax, social security, immigration, data privacy and Posted Workers Directive.

Summary 

Organisations around the world are trying to come to terms with the impact that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on their (globally mobile) employees and business. This crisis serves as a reminder for organisations to build resilience and agility for a post-pandemic world and also prompting the need of having a clear view on where all globally mobile employees are at any given moment in time. 

As the crisis unfolds, reshaping to an agile Global Mobility organisation with focus on assignee safety, effective stakeholder management and business continuity while building resilience and preparing for recovery will be the focus. If you have questions on how to plan for the future while ensuring business continuity, Sandrine Schaumont, Nic Boydens and Sanjita Chetri Samal are here to help!