With flexible, remote and hybrid working now the norm within many UK businesses, the concept of work from anywhere has begun to take off, with employers fielding increasing requests from workers who want to pack up their laptop and log on from a tropical beach or a new bustling city.
This shift in working culture has shown the need for employers to have in place a clear policy for all models of working in order to protect both the business and the individual, including for the latest jet setting trend in working without using any annual leave.
Having an employee work for an organisation in one country while being based in another can actually have a significant impact on a business. There are many things for UK-based employers to consider in order to ensure the business is protected together with providing transparency for all parties.
It will not just be about the practical issues of IT connections, time differences or even the nuanced decisions for the business, such as whether the employee in question can be trusted to complete tasks when thousands of miles from a manager. Other issues include those around employment rights tax, financial consequences, health and safety, IT security and data protection concerns.
An employer can face legal issues where work activity spans a longer period of time or where the usual place of work shifts. The provisions of the foreign law where the employee is working may apply and may even be more favourable of a legal position than here in the UK, so employers should go into matters with their eyes open.
The employee may be protected and acquire these legal protections, such as in relation to holiday, pay levels and rights on termination. Whether the employee has the right to work in their chosen destination will also need to be considered, such as whether they need a residence or work permit, for example. The employer will need to assess such risks and implications on a case-by-case basis, considering the destination country and any other key information that may assist. No one solution fits all, so do seek advice.
Getting these rules and procedures in place can take a little time and management, but it could be worth it in terms of employee satisfaction and getting the best out of a workforce while offering flexibility, so it is definitely something to consider in the right circumstances.
Paula Squire is a partner and employment specialist at Clarke Willmott