Overseas remote working – what employers need to consider

As travel opportunities have opened up again since the pandemic many individuals wish to make up for lost time and take advantage of the rise of remote work opportunities to work from another country, particularly during the summer months. However, before embarking on such an arrangement, it is crucial to understand the legal implications and potential challenges that may arise.

Precautions and practical considerations

As an employer there are a wide variety of issues you should consider and evaluate before agreeing to overseas remote working. This guide examines each of the below issues:

  • Legal considerations
  • Immigration and Work Permits
  • Tax Implications
  • Cultural and Legal Differences

Legal Considerations

Before any agreement is reached, there needs to be clarity as to what is being proposed by the employee in terms of where, how and when they will work. Any concerns and expectations should be discussed and addressed and existing contracts and procedures reviewed. Open and transparent communication is key to maintaining a positive working relationship.

Employment Contract and Terms

Some employment contracts may contain specific clauses addressing remote work or working from abroad. It is essential to understand the terms and conditions surrounding remote work and whether any geographical restrictions apply contractually. Checking relevant insurance policies to ensure that protection remains in place will also be crucial.

Employment Rights and Benefits

While working remotely, UK employees retain their rights and benefits under UK employment law. These include rights related to working hours, rest breaks, annual leave, and protection against discrimination. You may wish to verify that no additional or incidental rights are created in the territory in which the employee is proposing to work and, if there are, whether these create any additional risk or burden.

Data Security and Privacy

Remote work requires careful consideration of data security and privacy. Where an individual proposes to work from a territory which is not recognised as offering adequate data protection laws and the individual will be accessing or otherwise processing personal data, this will require additional protections to be in place and may be contrary to the employer’s contractual obligations towards third parties or require an update of privacy notices.

Other areas of concern may include the creation of intellectual property abroad and complying with health and safety requirements.

Immigration and Work Permits

When working from another country, it is vital for an individual to comply with that country’s immigration and work permit requirements. Simply travelling to another country as a tourist and working remotely without the necessary permits may be illegal and could have serious consequences.

Tax Implications

Working remotely in another country may have tax implications, both in the UK and the country the individual plans to work from. Tax residency rules and double taxation treaties come into play, and it is advisable to seek professional advice to understand the rules in both jurisdictions. Failure to comply with tax regulations can result in penalties and legal issues.

Cultural and Legal Differences

Each country has its own cultural norms, legal system, and employment practices. Having an understanding of these, and encouraging employees to do so, may help avoid potential challenges and ensure respectful and compliant behaviour.

While the concept of working remotely from another country may seem enticing to individuals, from an employer’s perspective it is essential to navigate the legal landscape and consider the necessary precautions and risk areas. If you wish to discuss these considerations further, please speak to a member of our employment team.