Relocating Employees: 5 Key Considerations

Relocating an employee to another country is a serious step, both for your business and for the employee.
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Where do you start when relocating employees for your company?

Gone are the days in which companies primarily operated within the borders of the country they were founded in. As the world becomes increasingly more connected, the need for international offices and representatives has increased dramatically, causing a need for relocating employees.

If your medium-sized business is based in the UK, for example, it’s become common for your customer or client list to include companies in nearby countries like France and Germany, as well as faraway countries such as China, Japan, Brazil or the USA.

With small, medium-sized and large companies engaging in international trading at a higher rate than ever before, the need for overseas staff in important international markets is growing every year.

If your company is planning to relocate an employee overseas, it’s important to plan their move carefully. Relocating an employee is a big step, and keeping several key considerations in mind can the entire process much smoother and less stressful.

We recently spoke to the international relocation experts at Robinsons Relocation to find out five key considerations for your business to keep in mind if it’s planning to relocate an employee to another country.

How much time will they need to move?

Moving can take a long time, especially when you’re moving to a country that’s far away from your current location. From shipping to customs, there are a surprising number of delays involved in moving to another country.

Start planning the logistical side of the move – visas, transportation, customs fees and remote workplaces – as early as possible to ensure your company doesn’t run into any last-minute issues associated with relocating staff.

If your employee needs a relevant work visa or permit in order to work legally in their new country, you may need to prove that your company has office space and its own legal presence in their destination before applying.

The legal and logistical side of moving can take a long time to sort out, especially if you’re moving one of your first employees into a country. Speak to a lawyer early in the process so that your business doesn’t face any avoidable delays.

Also on The Startup’s Guide to Moving Offices

How will they react to their destination?

Not all countries are equally easy to adjust to. Moving from the UK to the USA, as an example, is relatively straightforward thanks to the two different countries sharing a language and many cultural elements.

Moving from the UK to India, on the other hand, is much more of a challenge. When a member of your company’s staff has to move to a country with a highly different culture from their own, they’ll need some time to adjust.

Some of this can be mitigated by choosing to relocate an employee that already has experience living and working overseas. However, every employee will need some time to adjust to their new destination before they can work productively again.

How will this affect your business’s taxes?

When you relocate an employee to another country, there’s a possibility that their change in location – and your business presence in another country – could affect your taxes both in your company’s home country and in the new destination.

Relocating an employee can affect the PAYE and NIC payment process. You can find out more about how relocating an employee abroad affects your UK business taxes on the HMRC website.

In addition to affecting your company’s UK tax obligations, relocating an employee could affect your business’s tax obligations in their country. Speak to a tax lawyer in the employee’s destination to find out what effects this could have on your business.

What is the long-term goal of relocation?

Relocating an employee to another country is a serious step, both for your business and for the employee. Because of this, it’s important that you have a long-term goal in mind when you choose to send an employee overseas.

What is the goal of their relocation? Would you like to establish a large customer or client base in the country they’re moving to? Would you like to improve your level of access to a country’s workforce, industry or skills?

What effect do you see their relocation having on your company in five or ten years’ time? Relocating an employee is a serious step, and planning for the long term will help your business get the most from an overseas member of staff.

How will moving affect their cost of living?

Since the cost of living varies from one country to another, you may need to adjust your employee’s income to ensure they have enough money to live a normal life in their destination.

Online tools like Expatistan and the Mercer cost of living surveys are great guides to the rough cost of living in a specific destination. It’s to compensate your employees fairly when living abroad to ensure they’re happy, healthy and productive.

In addition to CPI-related differences in the cost of living, living in another country with a different language and contrasting culture can result in additional expenses for things such as translations, professional services and personal security.

Is your company ready to become international?

Sending an employee to another country is a great way to access a new market and expand your company’s reach. It’s also a potentially stressful and expensive process if your company isn’t completely prepared before moving one of its staff members.

From establishing a suitable salary to planning accommodation, visas and the other logistical aspects of moving ahead of time, make sure your company is completely ready to relocate its staff overseas to make the process as stress-free as possible.

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