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Employer Guidance for Employees Requesting to Work Overseas During Remote-Working

New guidance has been issued surrounding employees’ requests to work overseas during their remote working period.

The government guidance changed from 1st August, allowing employers to make the decision regarding bringing staff back into the workplace, however, some employees have found themselves still working remotely from home as employers attempt to keep minimal people in the workplace.

Some employers have informed staff that they will not be retuning to the workplace until later this year or even 2021; this raises the question as to how employers should respond if employees request to work overseas during this time. This could be as they want to visit family members who live in another county or they may want to spend some time in a country they feel to be safer. Some roles are likely to be able to be performed as effectively overseas as they are in the employees’ home country; however, this likely will not apply to all roles. The decision surrounding this matter is down to employers ultimately, however, they should keep the date of 31st December this year in mind when Brexit consequences are implemented fully. When making these decisions, employers should also consider the following:

Should a policy be written and put in place?

Large companies with high volumes of employees may find they receive numerous requests of this sort, whereas smaller companies may find they receive just one or two, or none. Large companies may want to consider a new policy which will address this question and outline conditions / expectations. Things to include would be:

Timescales – how long will employees be reasonably allowed to work overseas? This should be agreed in advance with employees and documented accordingly.

Health & Safety - as employers are obliged to adhere to statutory/contractual duties with regards to protecting the health & safety of their workers, it is important these are considered before allowing employees to carry out their job roles overseas. These duties include a safe home working environment; if an employee wishes to work overseas, employers may attempt to form an agreement with employees that they are working at their own risk, and employers will not be liable for health & safety in a different country. However, this may not be possible due to contractual obligations.

Employment rights – both employers and employees should familiarise themselves with employment protections and rights in any country an employee may wish to work from. Things to check would be any restrictions on rates of pay, working hours, holidays etc.

Privacy – if an employee will be processing or storing data whilst working in another country, then the employer should check that the data protection laws of the country and any other national laws can be fully complied with. Also, if the data is that of a European citizen, then the GDPR rulings will apply.

Quarantine – there could be quarantine rules around arriving in or arriving back from certain countries. Employers and employees should be aware of these beforehand and remain aware that these can suddenly be implemented if they are not already in existence.

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