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Over the last few years, we have seen many organisations experience an increase in informal business travellers going on short trips globally, often on a frequent basis. This has primarily been caused by the way in which mobility has been evolving away from costlier longer term moves and driven by advancing technology and transformations in the way people and organisations want to work. At the same time, fundamental shifts in the regulatory environment have increased the scrutiny by the authorities on the compliance aspects such trips create. The current Covid-19 health crisis has made it even more important for employers to know where their people are to ensure they are able to manage their safety and security.

It is therefore increasingly important for organisations to know where their people are and what they are doing; not just to be able to manage the compliance risks, but also to support their people to travel safely and in a way that is sustainable for their wellbeing, the environment and the performance and productivity of your business.

So what are the key risks of global business travellers?
Below is a high level summary of the technical and non technical risks and considerations that may be prompted by global business travel, together with an attached document providing further information in relation to the potential impact for both the employer and the employee travelling.

Technical:
Technical risks are typically driven by tax, legal or other regulatory compliance requirements and getting it wrong could result in financial penalties or even possible imprisonment for the traveller or employer, audits and unexpected costs and administration. The compliance areas we most frequently see include:

  • Immigration - does the traveller have the right visa/work permission to undertake activities
  • EU Posted Workers - the traveller may need to register if posted to a EU Member State
  • Social security - withholding requirements or the need to obtain a certificate of continuing coverage in the home social security system
  • Personal tax  – filing requirements and administration for the traveller
  • Payroll withholding and reporting - requirements for the employer
  • Corporate tax issues - permanent establishment risk, transfer pricing considerations.

Non - technical:
Non technical considerations include those which impact the business from functioning as normal, including operational blockers and reputational damage, or trigger personal implications for the traveller, such as an adverse effect on their wellbeing or travellers being unable to access state benefits/healthcare. Below is a list of the factors that are often considered non-technical:

  • Operational issues -  blocked travel preventing you meeting business need
  • Security issues -  managing travel to unsafe destinations
  • Sustainability and the environment -  is regular travel harming the planet
  • Wellbeing/employee experience - impact of regular travel on health and productivity
  • Cost leakage - fines, penalties from non-compliance, unnecessary travel costs
  • Reputational damage - media/public scrutiny for non-compliance
  • Benefits -  access to healthcare, benefits etc for the traveller.
As a result of the above, we are seeing more and more organisations review their risk and look to implement processes to help track their travellers to manage their risks and support their employees. For further information on the above, or to discuss how you can manage business traveller compliance, please contact Sarah Mullen (tax), Parul Thakore (tax), Lindsey Barras (immigration and EU posted workers), Claire Pepper (immigration), Miguel Oliveira (EU posted workers), Nick Palazzo (corporate tax) or your usual PwC contact.