Nearly all of the global mobility people we speak to here at MOVE Guides have seen an increase in employee mobility across their business, yet in the Ernst & Young Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey published in October, of the 520 respondents a massive 45% believed that their global mobility functions were understaffed, a figure which is up 4% from last year. This has resulted in smaller teams trying to manage larger numbers of expat employees, with varying levels of oversight.
Many companies are facing continued cost pressures and are struggling under the administration burden of tracking these employees, yet there is little indication that there are plans to update company-wide policies and processes. A frightening 68% of companies did not have a control framework in place to manage their payroll and tax risks, along with home and host country national insurance policies.
Even more worrying are the risks posed by the rise of the short-term business traveler. With globalization high on the agenda for many companies, expansion into emerging markets is often prefaced by shorter exploratory trips made by relevant managers. Depending on the industry, sales and marketing functions can be tightly regulated, and yet 65% of respondents stated that they currently have no effective tracking process for this category of travelers.
This begs the question of whose responsibility these employees should be; should this be part of HR’s remit, or is payroll responsible? Should staff be monitored by the tax team, their line manager, or is there merit in including these employees in a wider global mobility program? In order to ensure the business does not fall foul of legal, tax and compliance regulations it is important that these types of issues be addressed.
Many companies are pondering the use of mobile technology for tracking this pool of employees, with nearly all staff equipped with a smart phone for business travel these days, cross-border business trips and expenses could be captured effectively through this medium, but the question still remains whose responsibility is it, and more importantly, is your business even aware of the risk?