A guide to remote working outside your home country
Posted on Sep 01, 22 by Irina Dzhambazova
The pandemic proved that countless jobs could be done effectively away from an office, and now employees across many different industries can enjoy the flexibility and freedom of working from the location of their choice.
For some people, remote working has even created the opportunity to move abroad – perhaps to capitalise on a lower cost of living, to be nearer family, or just the chance to relocate to their dream destination. Maybe you are one of them too or planning on becoming an internationally remote worker.
Moving away from your home country is not as simple as making a down payment on a flat and jumping on a plane. There are plenty of complexities to navigate, such as complying with local tax obligations, and it isn’t always straightforward to work out the nuts and bolts of how you’ll interact with your colleagues and perform effectively in your role.
But don’t panic – we’re here to provide you with everything you need to know to start working remotely abroad, from asking your employer about your entitlements to ensuring you’re getting paid the right amount at the right time.
Read on, and you’ll be ready to make the remote working switch in no time!
What are my rights when it comes to remote working?
In some countries, like the UK and Ireland, employees can request remote work if they’ve been with their employer for some time.
However, while many countries give you the right to ask to work remotely, employers have the right to turn down your request, providing they have a good reason. Legitimate reasons include fears that it could affect your performance at work, or the performance of your team and the wider organisation, or that it will be too expensive to support your relocation.
So before you approach your boss, make sure you have a good case for why it will positively impact the company if you do make the move.
Can I work from abroad?
Moving abroad to work remotely is trickier than a simple move from the company office to your home office because of the added administrative burden on your employer. There are significant tax implications if you’re planning to work away from your home country, and these will depend on where you've chosen to make your new life. You’ll also be subject to local employment laws and statutory benefits, which could be very different from what you’ve been used to in your career.
You can help by providing your HR manager with all of the information they need about your new residence, but ultimately, it’s your employer’s responsibility to do their due diligence and make sure they’re complying with the relevant in-country rules and taxes.
Many employers struggle with this issue, which is precisely why we exist! With Boundless, overseas employment help is at hand. More on this later.
Will working remotely affect my pay?
One of the benefits of remote work is that it can help you achieve some pretty hefty savings – lower travel costs, lower house prices, or the chance to move to a country where the overall cost of living is cheaper.
However, there is no law that protects your pay against change, and, in fact, you should be prepared if that might happen. There could be several reasons for that - the country having higher employer taxes and fees or location impacting the salary if it is something taken into consideration in your organisation's pay structure.
It’s important to note that in most countries, you’d have to agree to any salary reduction or change in your employment terms – your boss can’t legally impose this on you without your consent.
Finally, when you’re making all of your financial calculations and weighing up the idea of a move abroad, remember that your tax obligations will change according to your new country of residence, and this will also cause a change to your monthly wage packet.
GETTING THE PAPERWORK RIGHT
How do I tackle immigration rules?
If you plan to work abroad, you must check the new country’s immigration requirements. Even if it’s a temporary relocation, you’ll probably still need special immigration permissions unless you are an EU citizen moving to another EU country.
Generally, when you’re returning to work from your country of nationality, there won’t be any immigration concerns, but your employer will still need to undertake a ‘Right to Work’ compliance check and register to pay tax on your behalf.
If you want to work from a country where you’ll be classified as a non-national, you will need to take immigration advice – you can’t just work remotely as a visitor without first checking whether you need an employment visa. Most countries around the world will determine your eligibility for a visa by the activity you will be doing, the size of your salary, and/or the duration of your stay.
Each country has its own rules, so you can’t afford to make assumptions based on previous experiences elsewhere. There will be repercussions for you and your employer if your company fails to employ you legally, so it’s really important that you get this part right!
What taxes will I pay, and what benefits am I entitled to?
You’re subject to the country’s local taxation systems and statutory benefits when you work abroad. These differ from country to country, and they can impact your take-home pay quite significantly depending on where you’re based and the size of your gross salary. It’s worth doing a bit of homework, starting with our handy Country Guides, to give you a sense of what you can expect when moving to your new location.
In addition to tax obligations, periods spent working in another country may also impact company insurance policies or your ability to access benefits such as private medical cover, life assurance, travel insurance, income protection and pensions. But there’s good news to be had here. While, in the past, it was painful for an employer to roll out benefits packages globally, new technology like Boundless’s benefits platform makes this process much easier, enabling companies to easily offer a benefit allowance to all employees regardless of where in the world they are.
Is it easier to work abroad if I become an independent contractor?
Remote working away from your home country can be complex to organise, and it might seem like a good idea to try and avoid the hassle by becoming an independent contractor. In fact, your employer might suggest this route to you.
However, what might look like the "easy" option is, in reality, a bad idea for both you and your boss. In most countries around the world, it's neither legal nor wise to have someone working as a full-time independent contractor. Even if you’re happy with the arrangement, the local tax authorities in your new country won’t be. We’re seeing more and more evidence of authorities clamping down on worker misclassification and issuing fines to the employers deemed responsible.
Once your incorrect employment status is identified, your company will be forced to change your status, make backdated tax payments and very likely enforce penalties – some of which might fall on your head too.
Clearly, this doesn’t sound like a very good idea, and you have to ask yourself – is it really worth the risk? Remember that if you take this route, you’re also forgoing all the extra-statutory benefits a full-time employee receives – like sick pay, pension contributions and even job protection. It’s a lot to give up, particularly at a moment when you’re stepping out of your comfort zone by moving abroad.
So how does an Employer of Record help me to work abroad?
When you’re employed in a different country, you need to comply with the rules, regulations, taxes and registrations of your country. There’s a lot of admin, and asking your boss to do all of this for you and you alone might not be possible.
Engaging the services of an Employer of Record (EOR) could be just the solution you need to make your dream overseas move a reality. Using an EOR creates a shared responsibility for you between your employer and the EOR. It means your employer doesn’t have to navigate complex rules and regulations, but you still get the full employment you deserve.
The Employer of Record serves as an extra pair of hands in the employment process. They own and operate a fully compliant locally based organisation that acts as your legal employer and takes care of everything related to your employment. It's their job to understand what it takes to make you a fully compliant overseas employee – registering you with the right authorities, running your employer’s overseas payroll, filing and paying your taxes, issuing your payslips, etc.
And don’t worry – you aren’t going to be asked to work for two different companies! Everything related to your work and performance remains the responsibility of the company you already work for. They determine your projects, who you report to, how you grow in the organisation, and your cultural experience. The Employer of Record is responsible for your employee experience legally, which means getting your salary and payslip, paid vacation, pension contributions, maternity/paternity leave, job protection, unemployment benefits if you lose your job, and much more. It really is the best of both worlds – for you and for your employer.
WHILE YOU’RE WORKING
How do I stay productive while I’m working from home?
When you’re working remotely, without the encouragement of colleagues physically by your side, it's important to find methods of staying productive and stoking your motivation.
Even if your employer allows you to work flexible hours, it helps most people to set a schedule you can stick to. You might also consider productivity or time-tracking apps, which keep to-do lists in one place and allow you to see your progress against your goals. And – to capitalise on your most productive periods – save your more challenging tasks for when you know you'll be in the right headspace for them.
We think it’s important to log out of social media while you’re working, and to be aware of digital distractions. Staying connected is great – but ensure you have time where you can focus on the task in hand.
How do I keep in touch and stay connected when I’m working remotely?
Once you’ve secured the right to work remotely and set up shop in your new location, you need to ensure your communication with teammates doesn’t suffer from not being in the same office day-in-day-out.
Collaboration tools like instant messaging, Slack and project boards are helpful, but it’s not always possible to effectively communicate through these tools. Sometimes talking it out is much more effective, so don’t be scared to drop a short phone or video call into your colleague’s or manager’s calendar, and make time for longer chats when necessary.
You can also use virtual tools to take your colleagues out for drinks or lunches during the week. Coordinating a weekly coffee meeting is a great way to catch up with your colleagues and retain a sense of normalcy while finding your feet in the remote world.
How can I protect my well-being?
Working remotely is great, but sometimes the boundaries between work- and home life become blurred when everything takes place from the same location – i.e. your new house. A good way to start tackling this is by tracking your time, noting down how many extra hours you’re doing, when the overtime occurs and what your pressure points might be.
Setting boundaries is just as important like turning off work devices at the end of the working day and at weekends. Some people find it helpful to set up a designated workspace – somewhere within your home where you can focus on tasks without being distracted and, importantly, somewhere you can leave when the working day is done. Another great option that will introduce you to people in your new home is renting a desk in a co-working space.
How can I ensure I get the management and support I need?
Good management is just as, if not more important if you’re a remote worker – and it might fall to you to ensure you’re not flying under the radar now you’re out of sight. Make sure you keep up with regular meetings and reviews and schedule time with your boss to discuss your progress.
Also, you shouldn’t have to miss out on training, development and support while you’re working away from the office. And it’s not just formal training we’re talking about – there’s also the risk you’ll miss out on those ad-hoc opportunities to learn from colleagues, absorb ideas, brainstorm, and collaborate. So, when you’re working remotely, try to make a concerted effort to ensure these opportunities still happen – starting with organising meetings and brainstorming sessions to keep the conversation flowing.
Be open and honest with your boss. You need an open dialogue where you can raise concerns and ask for support. It’s natural to want to make your new remote working world a success – but there will always be stumbling blocks along the way or moments where a bit of extra help is needed. And do feedback to your managers about the good and bad of remote working – particularly if you’re one of the first employees doing it - your input may help them create coherent policies to help you and others succeed.
Where can I get more information about remote work employment?
We hope we’ve answered some of your most pressing questions about working abroad and shown you how, using an Employer of Record service, it’s possible to work from pretty much anywhere in a compliant, risk- and admin-free way. If you still have concerns about the model, read this in-depth explainer on how an Employer of Record impacts you.
Alternatively, drop us a line at email@example.com
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Written by Irina Dzhambazova
Irina Dzhambazova is the editor of this publication and leads many of the marketing efforts behind Boundless. Previously she crafted stories at SaaStock and Dublin Globe and travelled the world capturing case studies of companies using the Kanban Method. Throughout this experience, she was almost always "the remote worker" and knows a thing or two about the potential and challenges of this way of working.
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