What are International Employee Benefits?
International employee benefits refer to the compensation and perks provided to employees who work for a company with international offices or who are employed in countries other than the headquarters location of their employer.
These benefit packages are typically designed to attract, retain, and motivate a diverse global workforce while complying with local employment laws, regulations, and cultural norms.
What is included in an international employee benefit package?
International employee benefit packages, like packages in the country where the company is headquartered, outline any work-related bonuses, allowances, top-ups and incentives that employees receive on top of statutory benefits. These may all be combined into an overarching compensation package that specifically outlines additional international employee benefits.
Standard employee benefits
No matter where an employee lives or works, there are a number of common benefits extended to them. And as benefits and regulations vary from country to country, businesses employing remote or international employees are responsible for ensuring their benefit packages comply with local laws and regulations in each country where the company operates.
Standard employee benefit packages routinely include details about paid time off (PTO), flexible work, legally mandated pension or retirement contributions and other relevant leaves, and various insurances.
Some companies may opt to offer additional benefits to their employees such as life insurance, additional monetary stipends, benefits in kind (also called ‘fringe benefits’ or ‘perks’), or bike-to-work schemes in places like the Netherlands, Ireland, or the UK.
Local, country-specific benefits
If a company employs workers internationally, regardless of where it is headquartered, it must adhere to mandatory benefit packages in the countries where its employees reside. Sometimes, these requirements are unique to that country.
Here are a few examples of unique country-specific employee benefits:
- In Poland and Bulgaria, all employees must undergo periodic medical examinations to verify they are physically able to do their jobs. These must take place at the point of hire and every one to five years after that. In some cases, employers may help pay for the cost of the check-up. Furthermore, these check-ups should be scheduled during the workday and employees must be paid during the check-up time.
- In Chile, businesses who have experienced a profit for the year must pay out an annual statutory bonus to employees based either on the total profit gained or each employee’s annual salary amount.
- In France, employers are required to cover 50% of employees’ public transportation costs when commuting to and from work.
For more examples of unique mandatory benefits in a particular country, check out our country guides and click the ‘benefits’ tab on the left side of the screen.
Flexible work arrangements
A benefit that is becoming more and more popular (and sometimes even mandated by law) is offering employees the option to have a flexible work arrangement. This could be both in terms of the place – offering options such as remote work, work-from-anywhere programs, and hybrid work schemes – or flexibility in terms of hours when the work is done.
How can organisations ensure the house is in order when it comes to international benefits?
When it comes to international benefits, there are a few things to keep in mind as a company puts together its benefits policy that works for wherever people are based.
Each country has local statutory leave and public holiday entitlements
Leave or vacation is one of the statutory benefits that can really vary between countries. On one end of the spectrum you have America where there is no federally mandated time off, to the other end with France where employees get 30 days off per year as well as public holiday entitlements. Maternity leave is no different where on one end you have countries such as Malta with 18 weeks with pay varying between 100 and 180 euros a week, all the way to Bulgaria with 52.7 weeks at full pay.
Country specific benefits
There are benefits that are statutory in each country specifically so it’s important to understand what these are in advance. For example, in Portugal, employees are entitled to 40 hours of additional training per year by a training organisation certified for this purpose or a recognised educational establishment. In relation to remote working, many countries now require employers to pay a home working allowance to cover costs of electricity and internet, including Poland, Croatia and Portugal.
Choose your approach to benefits
There are different approaches to take when deciding on benefits for an international team. You can try to harmonise your approach as much as possible and offer the same benefits to all employees regardless of location, by bringing everyone up to at least the statutory minimum of your highest location. Or you can choose this for certain, more obvious benefits like annual leave. For example, Boundless takes this approach to annual leave, matching our leave policy to the minimum in France, where we have employees, so everyone gets the same number. We also allow employees to take their public holidays whenever they wish, though they are always entitled to take them in the country in which they are employed. This offers additional flexibility. Another approach is to adhere to local standards and norms. In such cases, consistency exists only within certain locations. Whatever approach you choose, it is important to be clear about it from when you begin to hire internationally and be transparent with employees.
When a team is spread out across multiple locations and countries, harmonising employee benefits can be challenging. As fully remote and hybrid work agreements become more common, many organisations have to get creative about extending benefits to their global workforce. One solution is to offer stipends giving workers the chance to choose what works for them.
Offer great benefits packages with Boundless
Providing international employee benefits requires a deep understanding of local employment laws, customs, and competitive practices in each country where you operate. As part of our global employment solution, Boundless can offer guidance as you build your packages to meet the diverse needs of your global workforce and introduce a flexi benefits package as part of payroll. To learn more, speak with one of our experts.