What you need to know about employing remote workers in 5 remote work hotbeds

Posted on  Mar 03, 22 by Irina Dzhambazova
Man sitting on planet earth that has a few geographic pins Remote legislation 101:what you need to know about the most popular for remote work countries

In the past two years, employing remote workers turned from something seen as an exception, into something much more akin to the norm. Organisations in many sectors experienced the potential of remote working – discovering that jobs that were once thought of as purely office-based have been successfully carried out virtually.

But while there are significant opportunities for employers to benefit from a wider (global) talent pool, and for employees to pack up and move abroad without needing to find a new job, it’s rarely as simple as it might first seem. Employers must adhere to local working legislation in order to avoid hefty fines and reputational damage – and doing so can be pretty complex.

So, how do you get started? We picked some of the most popular countries on the Boundless platform and give you an overview of the territories and associated employment laws, from remote work to payments and taxes, general benefits and ending employment.

Employing remote workers in the UK

The UK is home to 5.6 million private sector businesses (more than 1 million in London alone), from self-employed sole traders to large multinationals. Employees in the UK typically work 40-48 hours every week – and, as of 2021, two million Brits work remotely.

Key stats and obligations of employers in the UK:

Hours of work/remote work

  • Employees must not work more than 48 hours weekly on a 17-week basis, unless they opt-out of maximum hours regulation - voluntarily and in writing.
  • Holiday entitlement is 20 days for an employee working five days a week, and the employer can include bank holidays on top of that. The employer must pay for holiday days employees have not taken. 
  • All employees have the legal right to request flexible working if they have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks (Legislation is in progress to allow this from day 1).

Payment, taxes and benefits

  • Employers must pay contributions such as National Insurance (NIC), which builds up the workers’ entitlement to social security benefits such as a Jobseeker Allowance and the State Pension.
  • Minimum wage for employees over 25 is £8.72 per hour dropping to £8.20 for those between 21 and 24.
  • Tax deductions are calculated and taken by HMRC through the Pay as ou Earn (PAYE) system.
  • Employers have to offer a pension scheme to all employees within three months of commencement of work on an 'automatic enrolment' base. It is up to each employee to join it or not. 

General employee rights

  • Every employee in the UK has the right to a comprehensive written employment contract. 
  • Employees have the right to a safe workplace, and it falls to their employers to take care of their health and safety while at work. 
  • Employees in the UK are protected from workplace discrimination by the Equality Act 2010, which extends to dismissal, employment conditions, remuneration, career advancement and recruitment. 
All employees based in the UK have the legal right to request flexible working.

Ending employment

  • Employees who have been continuously employed by an employer for two years or more have a right not to be unfairly dismissed.
  • Any employee who has been continuously employed for more than two years has rights to Statutory Redundancy Payment (SRP).

Employing remote workers in Ireland

Businesses in Ireland employ more than 1.55 million people today, with 216,000 remote workers in the country. With mandatory retirement contributions and minimum hourly rate of €10.50, employees in Ireland enjoy a plethora of rights and benefits.

Key stats and obligations of employers in Ireland:

Hours of work/remote work

  • In 2021, Ireland passed new legislation to keep up with technological advances and the uptake of remote work by creating a new employee right that gives them the right to disconnect from work outside working hours.
  • Employers must provide employees working from home with the appropriate equipment for work, which might include laptop, mouse, monitor, keyboard and headset.
  • The maximum average working week may not exceed 48 hours, calculated as a four-month average. An employee cannot opt out of that statutory requirement, to work longer hours.

Payment, taxes and benefits

  • Employers in Ireland must deduct taxes from employees’ pay. These taxes include, Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) and Universal Social Charge (USC).
  • All companies which either do not offer an occupational pension scheme or where employees must wait longer than six months to join the scheme, must offer access to a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA).
In 2021, Ireland passed a right to disconnect law, becoming yet another country to create such an employee right.

General employee rights

  • Every employee in Ireland has the right to a comprehensive written employment contract.
  • Irish employers are responsible for ensuring that employees have a safe workplace.
  • According to Irish employment law, everyone has the right to be treated equally regardless of their gender, age, race, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, disability, or religion. 
  • Personal data of employees in Ireland (as well as anywhere in the EU) is protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Ending employment

  • An employer must have grounds for dismissing an employee – unfair dismissal in Ireland is covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977.
  • Statutory redundancy payment kicks in after two years of continuous work with the employer. However, the law allows the employer and employee to agree on it to start earlier or for the sum to be more than the statutory limit. 
  • Regardless of how long they have been with the company, employees should given at least one week notice to their employers before resigning.

Employing remote workers in Portugal

There are nearly 300,000 remote workers in Portugal – and with 0% tax on cryptocurrencies, it’s perhaps no surprise that an influx of fintech organisations are doing business in the region. Using the Euro as currency, Portuguese businesses must meet a minimum salary obligation of €705 per month.

Key stats and obligations of employers in Portugal:

Hours of work/ remote work

  • Remote work requires a written agreement between the employer and employee and a remote/teleworking contract outlining the remote work clauses and policies.
  • Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities to the employees working remotely as they do to those working from the office.
  • Employers are expected to work eight hours a day, but can put in place special flexible working schemes and may extend the work hour limitations to 12 hours daily and 60 hours weekly for a short period. 
  • Employees are entitled to a minimum of 22 working days’ annual leave every calendar year. 
In Portugal, annual salaries are divided into 14 payments instead of the standard 12.

Payment, taxes and benefits

  • Employers are responsible for deducting employees' contributions from their gross wage and transferring it monthly to the Social Security Administration.
  • Employers contribute 23.75% of the employee's gross income to social security (22.3% for non-profit companies).
  • In Portugal, annual salaries are divided into 14 payments instead of the standard 12. The extra two salaries are provided as a Christmas bonus paid by the 15th of December and a holiday bonus paid before the employee's annual leave (usually June).

General employee rights

  • Generally, Portuguese employment contracts do not need to be in writing. However, for some types of arrangements (fixed-term, part-time, and secondment contracts, as well as agreements with foreign employees) the law requires a written document.
  • Employees in Portugal have the right to work in healthy, safe and hygienic conditions, which must be guaranteed by the employer.

Ending employment

  • Employers must ensure to follow a standard and documented disciplinary procedure before terminating an employment contract (if employing ten workers or more).

Need help employing in Portugal?

Employing remote workers in Germany

Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world and is highly developed and industrialised. There are 9.9 million remote workers in the country, benefitting from a minimum hourly salary of €9.82 (which is expected tortoise to €12.00 by the end of 2022). Following the pandemic, Germany is poised to agree on mandatory remote working as long as there are no “operational reasons” that stand in the way. 

Key stats and obligations of employers in Germany:

Hours of work/remote work

  • Employers bear the same responsibilities for employees' health and safety in the home office as they do in company premises.
  • Working hours should not exceed 8 hours daily. They can be extended to 10 hours daily as long as the weekly hours are not more than 48.
  • The Mobile Work Act (Mobile-Arbeit-Gesetz), which aims to regulate the right to work remotely from home is still pending approval

Payment, taxes and benefits

  • Employers must withhold income tax, solidarity tax and levies on social insurance schemes that cover pension, unemployment benefits, health insurance and long-term care insurance.
  • The welfare system in Germany covers a range of basic social security benefits and it’s compulsory that employers insure every employee.

General employee rights

  • While a written employment contract is not mandatory, German employers must provide employees with a signed document outlining the essential conditions of the employment no later than one month after the start of the employment relationship.
  • Probation periods must be expressly agreed, and must not exceed six months.
The welfare system in Germany covers a range of basic social security benefits and it’s compulsory that employers insure every employee

Ending employment

  • The German Employment Protection Act (Kündigungsschutzgesetz) monitors employment terminations and protects employees by ensuring dismissals are justified.
  • Companies with ten employees or fewer are not covered under dismissal protection, meaning termination of an employment agreement doesn't need to be justified.

Employing remote workers in France

France is the EU's second largest economy (and fifth largest in the world) and second largest exporter in the EU. There are nearly 5 million remote workers in France and employees in the country receive a significantly higher minimum salary than other countries in the EU - €1,554.58 based on 35 hour week.

Key stats and obligations of employers in France:

Hours of work/remote work

  • Employees in roles that allow them to carry their tasks remotely can request to work from home.
  • Employees working remotely benefit from the same rights as office-based staff.
  • Employees in France have the right to disconnect from work after working hours. Employers are prohibited from contacting employees out of those work hours. 
  • Employees are entitled to 30 days of annual leave each year.

Payment, taxes and benefits

  • All French residents pay health insurance - the premiums for which are automatically deducted from their salaries.
  • Apart from the government’s ‘old-age insurance’ that both employers and employees contribute to, companies must also provide a supplementary pension.
  • The French social security system is complex and includes a wide range of employee benefit schemes that include basic social security coverage, unemployment benefits, compulsory complementary retirement plans, complementary death and disability coverage, and complementary health coverage.
  • French residents pay tax on their worldwide income, while non-residents do so only on their income earned in France.

General employee rights

  • Employers must provide employees with an employment contract that meets the local standards.
  • Employees working from home are entitled to a yearly meeting with their managers to discuss their current workload and possible solutions.
  • Employees in France have the right to disconnect from work after working hours (France was the first country to introduce such a law in 2016).
Employees based in France with roles that allow them to carry their tasks remotely can request to work from home.

Ending employment

  • France has stringent laws when it comes to terminating an employee. Employers can only end the employment when there's a genuine cause, and they must follow a strict procedure.

So, there’s plenty to consider, and many differences between the countries we list here and beyond, which can make employing people across territories a minefield without the right help and guidance. But the good news is that there’s help at hand. Organisations like Boundless are set up to help navigate this complexity - our platform takes care of all legal and compliance aspects of employing people in other countries. Want to know more? There’s plenty of information available in our country guides, or alternatively, you can chat to one of our experts.

Need help in figuring out how to employ your international workers?

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The making available of information to you on this site by Boundless shall not create a legal, confidential or other relationship between you and Boundless and does not constitute the provision of legal, tax, commercial or other professional advice by Boundless. You acknowledge and agree that any information on this site has not been prepared with your specific circumstances in mind, may not be suitable for use in your business, and does not constitute advice intended for reliance. You assume all risk and liability that may result from any such reliance on the information and you should seek independent advice from a lawyer or tax professional in the relevant jurisdiction(s) before doing so.

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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