It’s been another fantastically busy week this week with a number of virtual events including an APAC hangout, an EMEA hangout, updates with our Training Partners and Network Sponsors, a demonstration of the Expat Academy Portal, a Tax Clinic, a Banking Network Hangout and our first Higher Education Huddle.
Across the globe we are seeing a change in the challenges facing Global Mobility. From dealing with the fallout of assignees and possessions being in different locations to proactively looking at whether virtual assignments should be included in a the policy framework going forwards, there is certainly no let up for Global Mobility.
Some lifting of restrictions
This week has seen a number of countries begin to announce the cautious lifting of certain lockdown measures.
The EU commission on Wednesday called for a “careful” easing of restrictions and, whilst recognising that the reopening of borders was the responsibility of national governments, it urged the 27 member states to coordinate lifting their restrictions in stages, starting with countries with low levels of coronavirus.
Switzerland is starting to move out of lockdown with children returning to school every other day. Some bars and restaurants are opening but with very strict measures thus limiting the number of people. This has made it not economically viable for some bars and restaurants so therefore some remain closed. Sporting events and concerts and still not allowed.
Germany will start relaxing entry controls on its borders with EU members from this weekend, but Spain, said it could wait until July 2020. In addition, Spain will impose a two-week quarantine on all travellers arriving from abroad from Friday.
The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will reopen borders to each other’s citizens, creating a “travel bubble”, from 15th May 2020.
Austria said it was opening its borders with Germany and working on phased re-openings with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and some eastern European countries.
In Belgium the government said schools, museums and hairdressers would be allowed to start reopening under strict distancing and hygiene conditions from 18th May 2020.
However, whilst there may be some change internally within the EU, at the end of last week, the European Commission invited the 26 Schengen Member States (including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania) and the 4 Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) to extend the restriction on non-essential travel into the EU for another 30 days, until 15th June 2020. The Commission recommended to continue strict measures at the external borders to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading through travel to the EU. The press release from the EU Commission can be found here.
The UK Government published a document setting out its national recovery strategy for COVID-19. The document sets out the Government’s approach to a phased recovery. Central to the approach is a move to “smarter controls” to be developed and announced, in periodic steps, over the coming weeks and months. One of these steps will involve changes to UK border control in order to manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from abroad. More detail on the new measures, the exemptions and how this impacts Business Travel and Tier 2 Workers can be found in an update from our Training Partners, Magrath Sheldrick LLP, here.
Last week we looked at the massive change to the household goods industry and the new measures being put in place to protect both clients and household goods employees. Another consideration is for those assignees who are on a lump sum policy and who pay in advance for their removals. The British Association of Removers (BAR) have removed their Advanced Payment Guarantee, which means assignees who pay for their move up front no longer have protection in the eventuality that their removal company goes into administration. It is therefore imperative that Global Mobility review their suppliers and check their financials.
In France the government has decided to automatically extend the validity of certain categories of residence permits and long stay visas, that expired between 16th March 2020 and 15th May 2020, by another 90 days. However, it is important to note that foreign nationals carrying expired permits or visas should not leave the French territory as they will have difficulties re-entering.
In China, some visa applications are being processed. However, it seems to only be in cases of economic necessity or economic importance for the employee to work in China, either because it would add significant value to the Chinese economy, there would be a penalty for contract non-delivery, the job could not be done by a Chinese citizen or it’s holding up work Chinese citizens could do.
Australia and New Zealand have had discussions around the potential idea of a ‘travel bubble’. The idea behind it is to be able to expand their citizens’ travel options by setting up a ‘safe tourism zone’ allowing their citizens to travel freely between the two countries. It is likely that, if successful, we may see further ‘travel bubbles’ emerge across the globe.
There seems to be a slight loosening of the very strict travel ban in India. Upon lockdown the travel ban did not allow Indian nationals to return home, nor did it allow foreign nationals in India to leave. On 7th May 2020, the Government launched the first phase of evacuation which allowed Indian nationals to return and foreign nationals to repatriate. However, there is a strict system where a person wishing to travel has to register with the Indian Mission. Upon registration either Air India or the India mission will reach out to the individual if they consider that the individual has a viable reason to return. If the individual does not then book their tickets, they get blacklisted. Each individual returning to India has a health test before they board the plane. When they arrive in India, they can be put into two categories. If categorised as high risk, they are taken to hospital. If they are categorised as low risk, they are quarantined. However, quarantine is in the city where they land and may not at home if ‘home’ is not within that city.
For the latest COVID-19 related travel and immigration updates from around the globe, our Network Sponsors, Newland Chase, publish a guide that is updated regularly each day and can be found here. In addition, next week they are hosting two webinars on “COVID-19 and Mobility: Global Travel and Immigration Impacts”. For more details and to register click here for the APAC session, or here for the Americas/EMEA session.
Returning back to work in the UK
Although the Government’s furlough scheme has been extended until October 2020, with no changes to the scheme forecast before August 2020, many employers are now faced with the task of getting employees back to work, where possible. Equally those employers who have continued to operate a workplace need to ensure that they are compliant with the most up to date guidance. Our Training Partners, Magrath Sheldrick, have outlined some core principles that should be kept in mind. More detail can be found here.
A crystal ball into the future
Our events over the past few weeks have seen a number of requests for answers that, even the brightest crystal ball, would struggle right now to provide clarity and certainty on! With Global Mobility being an integral partner of an organisation’s crisis response team throughout this pandemic, this elevated position offers mobility teams the opportunity to step up and demonstrate their value to the organisation. This requires strong leadership, the ability to collaborate across different internal and external stakeholders, work with ambiguity and resolve unique and complex issues with proactive planning and innovative solutions.
Sean Collins, Talent Mobility Search, wrote an article this week on the Future of Talent Mobility that provides some fascinating key areas to consider as Global Mobility play an integral role in steering their organisation out of this COVID-19 crisis. The full article can be found here.
All MyGMPD members can find all the latest technical updates in this week’s Expat Academy Round-up white paper on the MyGMPD website. Don’t forget to completing a Learning Log and get closer to MyGMPD accreditation.
As always, if there is anything that we can help you with during this unprecedented time, please do let us know.