The concept of ‘working from anywhere’ began as an unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. With regions locking down, some individuals were unable to return to their country of employment, or locally to their place of work. Remote working became commonplace in a number of industries, and as technology improved to support this, certain employees began to view this as an opportunity to work from anywhere. With the new COVID-19 variant now widely reported in the media, and new lockdowns being enforced in several countries, the prospect of a return to full time remote working could be on the horizon in some locations and therefore this question of being able to ‘work from anywhere’ is being revisited.
At the outset of the pandemic short-term concessions became available to support movement towards ‘working from anywhere’ but many of these have now long since lapsed leaving the question of whether employees can continue to work from anywhere and if an employer wishes to support this on an ongoing basis.
Read our guidance from our dedicated ‘Working from Anywhere, at home or internationally’ hub.
What are the considerations for employers and individuals?
The pandemic may have imposed relocations on some individuals, or they may have become displaced due to travel restrictions leading to an unintended period spent in an alternative jurisdiction. Traditionally individuals may have chosen to relocate for reasons such as family, climate or lifestyle and with long-term remote work now seen as a viable alternative to office-based working practices many employers have seen an increase in requests for such working arrangements.
Working from anywhere for individuals
A common consideration with any relocation is the impact on the tax affairs of the individual. Will their tax residency be impacted and will that mean a tax liability in the alternate jurisdiction and potentially a filing requirement? Will social security contributions be required? For more senior employees who may have more complex tax affairs how will personal income be taxed, and are pensions and Inheritance tax planning impacted? We set out the full impact of this change on employees.
Working from anywhere for employers
Does the individual working remotely in an alternative jurisdiction result in additional compliance obligations for the employer, including the running of a payroll? If the social security liability of the individual has shifted then the employer contributions if applicable will be due in the new jurisdiction, potentially impacting the level of cost of that employee.
There is a potential impact on the corporate tax position of the employer, should the duties of that employee create an unintended corporate presence.
Finally, there are the non-tax issues such as regulatory requirements, labour laws, security of systems and maintaining effective line management protocols to name a few.
The war on talent has led to many employers offering greater flexibility in relation to international remote worker as employees have seen an opportunity to be more agile in the working arrangements. There are advantages for employers too, such as the prospect of being able to hire from anywhere and move more quickly into new jurisdictions. Employers simply need to be aware of the potential consideration to be addressed and seek to put policies in place based upon the level of flexibility that they are wishing to offer in order that requests for international or cross-state remote working can be assessed and unintended consequences minimised.
We have produced a series of videos and dedicated our 2021 thought leadership to this topic.
We explore the tax and non-tax implications of allowing greater flexibility in terms of working remotely, across international or inter-state borders.
In our series of short video commentaries from BDO Global Tax, our tax professionals take a look at just what employers and employees need to be alert to, if they are to avoid the pitfalls and secure the benefits of continuing a move towards more agile working, across international and inter-state borders.
Explore the series here.