What are the key considerations for an employer before it sends an employee on an international assignment?

As soon as a potential international assignment opportunity is identified, there are a number of questions that the employer must address to ensure that the assignment is structured correctly, the company is compliant, and potential risks are avoided. If the employer has an international mobility team (whether an internal team or external advisers) it should contact the team in the first instance so that it can investigate the following points:

  • Tax:
    • What is the intended length of the assignment?
    • Will the assignee be taxable in the host country?
    • Will the assignee break residence in the home country?
  • Immigration:
    • Are there any employment and immigration laws that could prevent the employer from hiring a foreign worker?
    • Is a work permit required?
  • Employment law and assignment documentation:
    • Does the employer need to issue a host country employment contract or can it keep the employee on a home country contract?
    • Does the documentation need to be structured in a certain way in order to avoid permanent establishment risk?
  • Social security:
    • Will any host country contributions be due?
    • Does the employee meet the requirements to be eligible to remain in the home country social security scheme?
  • Payroll:
    • Will the employee be paid through the home or host country payroll?
    • Are there any mandatory requirements as to where the employee must be paid?
    • Will exchange rate volatility have an impact on the employee's salary?
    • Does the payroll have the capabilities to record and report all necessary obligations?
  • Policies, benefits and allowances:
    • Has the employer determined the correct remuneration package with the employee?
    • Is the assignment length and purpose aligned with the employer's reward, talent and mobility strategies?
  • Duty of care:
    • Are there any host country security and safety issues that need to be considered?