Higher Education Huddle

Expat Academy Higher Education Huddle With record numbers of attendees registered for the Higher Education Huddle and an agenda covering considerations whilst returning to business as usual, risk tolerances for those travelling overseas, employee tracking, policy, payroll, compliance and more it was going to be a busy two and a half hours.

Just like sending an assignee on assignment, sometimes not all best laid plans go quite like they should. Just before we went live our first speaker was caught in a fire alarm and had to step away from her desk. So, after a warm  introduction from Tony Miller, Lynda Brennan kindly brought her session forward an hour and gave us an update on MyGMPD.

We could then see that Marie Green from PwC had made it back to her desk and so, along with Gemma Buxton, they were able to delve straight into considerations that Global Mobility need to look at, as the world moves back to ‘business as usual’. In particular re-setting Global Mobility to ensure Universities are ready for increased types of international working arrangements, managing the coming tax year and rounding off with 12 small steps to set-up success.

It is clear that the next 18 months will see an increase in International Assignments and business travellers once again. However, cross border remote working certainly looks like it is here to stay and with that comes additional considerations as to whether universities should only allow that domestically and if so is that fair and inclusive to international employees that may wish the same flexibility cross border.

The key to being able to tackle some of these areas is to map out where mobility is heading. Are the numbers of assignees and business travellers going to increase? What are the risks to the University that this brings? How are those travelling or working in other locations to where they are employed going to be tracked? With more enforcement of the PWD as well as a less pragmatic approach by tax authorities, as they look to recoup some of the money spent during the pandemic, a pre-travel authorisation tool is certainly something that Universities should consider. Whilst the budget for a pre-travel assessment tool may be a little way off for some there may be other ways those travelling could be monitored such as travel reports, expense reports and a traffic light list of countries that highlights the risks in certain locations. Fundamentally education is key and communication of either a tool, a process or guidance was paramount to ensure compliance as international travel creeps up again.

The Huddle session provided the perfect opportunity for those attending to discuss questions raised from members about risk tolerances for overseas travel, tracking those that have been overseas and managing expectations and cost for those wishing to go overseas. Upon feedback it seemed that the risk tolerances ranged from 30 days to 90 days depending on resource and volume of requests.

A lightening coffee break to recharge the grey cells was followed by an update from Deborah Graham at Newcastle University on how they dealt with those stranded overseas during the pandemic, the new starters that were unable to travel to the UK and colleagues who had travelled overseas to be with family and then got stuck. Interestingly the last population was the hardest to track down and the most challenging to fix with deadlines to return to the UK largely being ignored. Deborah did highlight just how hard it was as there could not be a blanket approach when you are dealing with individuals.

She is also working on a new policy that has support from a senior stakeholder and it is looking forward to ‘landing’ this policy soon.

The final huddle session looked at three categories of questions that members had submitted – payroll, policy and compliance. Upon feedback to the main room, it was interesting to hear that in terms of flexible working overseas some Universities were trying to triage requests that come in so that only the most business critical requests came through to Global Mobility for costing and compliance analysis.

PWD was once again brought to light and clearly whilst there is a risk, members are struggling to get their organisations to take this seriously without a ‘war story’ highlighting the penalties. In addition, having a presence in certain locations from a PWD perspective was also a challenge but the feedback did highlight that there are providers that can do this on a university’s behalf.

Many universities are struggling with setting up international payroll and whilst an initial set up may seem expensive the long-term benefit of ensuring that a University had the right advice and was accurately running payroll paid dividends in the long term.

And with that it was back to Tony Miller to wrap up the session and thank our fabulous speakers, Marie Green, Gemma Buxton and Deborah Graham for such an engaging event and useful top tips for our HE members to take away. Also a thank you to Kate Fitzpatrick and Guy Marshall from Mercer and Jo from ECC in hosting the breakout rooms and feeding back the highlights from the Huddle sessions.

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