What is hot right now in Global Mobility?

51 companies attended our Summer Symposium Huddle. There were so many new faces in the room, that we started the day getting to know each other with insightful introductions from the delegates and the organisations they represent. Once we knew who was in the room and attendees had identified the most useful Global Mobility professionals to network with in their tea breaks, we broke into table discussions to discover What is hot right now in Global Mobility.   So, here’s our summary;

Going up:

  • Return on Investment (yes really…it’s back on the agenda but we are still not sure how to do it!)
  • Flexible working issues
  • EU General Data Protection Regulation
  • Expatriate wellness and the assignee experience
  • Spousal support

Still on the agenda:

  • Short term business travellers
  • Immigration
  • Talent management
  • Commuters
  • Policy reviews
  • The pros and cons of outsourcing international payroll and expense management
  • Technology

On the way down:

Not much. To be fair we didn’t ask what is moving to the bottom of peoples’ priorities, but it seems that although Brexit continues to be on the worry list for most, many are waiting to see what will happen next before launching into full on action. Interestingly, EU citizens who are currently on a UK outbound international assignment were identified as a category of concern. If they are due to repatriate in the next couple of years, there may be an issue when looking for settlement in the UK on repatriation having spent several years residing outside of the UK.

Corporate Update

We really enjoyed an engaging corporate update from Liz O’Donovan and Nina Moore from DLA Piper on their Global Mobility programme, policy and function. Thank you both!

For those of you who missed the Huddle or indeed attended but were so engrossed in the discussions that you didn’t get a chance to make notes, read on for a quick summary of the key discussion points…

Technology

The question posed was “What’s the best way to go about a technology implementation…things seem to go wrong when you start to configure things?”

Advice from the room:

“Focus on the input to make the output great”

“Have very honest communication with your technology partner and remember that the relationship should be viewed as long term if you want to get the best results. If you customise, you do not always benefit from all the enhancements rolled out by the tech firms in the future”

“Clearly define your problem at the outset. Don’t try and fix too many problems simultaneously”

“You have to have someone in your Global Mobility team who is the technology champion and is the first port of call for the wider team when embedding a technology solution. This will get everybody up and running on the system more smoothly”

Immigration

The question posed was “How are others managing to get lower pay grade, highly skilled people into the UK and Poland?”

Advice from the room:

“Structure supplementary allowances to take them up to the minimum salary required”

“You have to provide extra allowances to locals as well so the best advice is to include the amounts in base salary”

“If the assignment is less than 2 years, claim back temporary workplace expenses so the company can get some tax back “

One company attending has made the decision not to pay additional allowances and has mandated that those applying for roles in the UK must have an EU passport.

GDPR

A lively discussion took place on the impact of GDPR on Global Mobility. Many are assessing their risk for 3 different categories of employees:

  1. Those who used to be assignees but are no longer employees of the organisation
  2. Those currently on assignment
  3. Those no longer on assignment but still employed by the organisation

Many in the room have sought advice from their internal legal teams and the advice they have received varies enormously. In fact, one member described the various advice given as the “fruit salad effect” The advice differs every time you pull the lever on your one-arm bandit.

Top issues for consideration were;

Contracts with Suppliers – Some have been asked to amend contracts to include all suppliers down the supply chain e.g. where you contract with a relocation management company and they then use the services of destination service providers around the globe

Where your GM data is hosted – You can only host data on a server which is GDPR compliant

Dependents – Some have been advised by their legal department that they do not need to obtain individual consent to hold personal information of dependents. We think you do! You better check again. The age of consent is also an interesting question. It seems that the UK Government are currently discussing a proposal for 13 years old – but nothing has been decided just yet.

PST folders – one organisation is reviewing data held in each Global Mobility team members’ pst folders (past and present!!)

How do you get consent? Some are using their technology platform and most are relying on “legitimate interest” for the majority of the personal data they hold.  The risk is where people have left your business.

Short Term Business Travellers

We took a pulse check on how you are getting involved with these devilish people who go trotting around the world on business trips throughout the year. The general impression is that the problem is growing arms and legs and was likened to opening Pandora’s box. Having wonderful ways to track the data and find out who is going where and when is great but will result in you having a substantial population of people to get compliant. Get ready and resource for this!

Expatriate Wellness

We enjoyed this interesting discussion topic which gave us food for thought on how organisations could look after the wellbeing of their assignees better. Examples discussed were what support should be put in place to cope with jetlag, loneliness, the risk of deep vein thrombosis and the impact of living overseas for many years on life insurance eligibility.

One proactive organisation puts a limit on travel time, and ensures that all people managers have training which is “global” rather than “national” on this subject to ensure consistency wherever employees move. They also provide an employee assistance programme available in several different languages. So, if someone is having a tough time and feels lonely they can access the support they need in their native tongue.

It might be worth reviewing your policies to see what extra wording you can include to ensure clarity in this area.

Brexit

Great news…the Government has launched a Brexit App! Bad News….it only works on android devices.

There was a mixed response in the room to the question “Are people encouraging settlement in the UK for their EU citizens?” Many aren’t but one is paying the settlement application fee for any EU nationals who are eligible for UK settlement. They are also making their legal team available for any required certification of documents.

“Lite” Policies

The general update is that these are getting even leaner. It seems that soon there will be very little content left except tax and immigration compliance. One company has even removed accommodation and flights! Another has just removed a self-initiated policy from their offering and scrapped an intra-regional Africa policy because they have concerns of discrimination.

See you next time

Hopefully this blog has given you a flavour of what was discussed, but it can never really replace coming along in person to meet and discuss in depth the hot topics on your agenda. To reserve your place at the next Symposium Huddle on 30th October 2018, click here. If you want to find out more contact Tony.

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