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Opportunities to work abroad

Hello all

Our firm is a member of a globally connected group of finance firms.  We are able to offer opportunities to individuals in a section of our workforce to take time away from their employment with us (for around a year or so) to work for another firm elsewhere in the world and then return to us once this ends.

When this last arose the individual resigned from our employ, joined the company abroad and then re-joined us on their return.  We are wondering what, if any, implications there may be to keeping the employee on our books but placing their employment 'on hold', so stopping any salary, benefits, pension, etc. until they return.  Also whether their continuous employment would also be placed on hold during their period away.

I was originally asked to create a career break policy, but I'm failing to see how this situation is a career break when they are continuing the same career elsewhere?  Maybe I'm wrong but any help or guidance on this would be very much appreciated.

Thanks

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  • Hello Alison,
    It's a shame I am just seeing your post today, but I noticed there weren't any responses. Are you still looking for any ideas? Happy to share my experience, if that is still helpful.

    Best regards,
    Ibironke
  • In reply to Ibironke Tolu-Ogunpolu:

    Hello Ibironke

    Thanks for your offer of assistance, that would still be helpful.

    Regards

    Alison
  • In reply to Alison:

    Hello Alison,

    Although you have not shared too many specifics, what you have described appears to be a ‘secondment’ to me. What is not clear is what kind of secondment it is.

    I have been both a secondee and a Global mobility manager responsible for other assignees so I understand both sides of the story. A firm in another country had requested that I undertake a two-year strategic deployment to help them set up a new department. My firm wanted me to resign and I found it difficult to agree to it because I felt it put me in a negative position.

    There are a few issues that could affect whether you want to ask staff to resign, or take a career break, that I think are worth considering. You may have already thought of them, but these are my two pence-worth anyway:

    Fundamentally, a career break means the employee is taking time off work to do something else that is outside the involvement and control of the organisation.

    So against that premise, perhaps one should ask, what is the purpose and nature of the assignment? Is it for your staff to gain or build on experience / exposure? On the other hand, is it to provide some service or expertise to the other firms?

    What would be the benefits to your own organisation and to the host firm? Depending on the level of the staff members, there might be Permanent Establishment (PE) or Dependant Agent PE considerations from a tax and/or reporting perspective.

    With regards to your question (should it be a career break), will the work being done at the host firm be significantly outside their current career path or will it be relevant and therefore contribute to their performance on return to your firm at the end of their assignment? If the answer is yes, then it really is not a career break.

    Additionally, what is the nature of your organisation’s involvement in the arrangement? For instance, who decides which staff member goes and to which country or firm? How involved is your own firm in negotiating the terms of the assignment?

    Who bears the outbound costs at the beginning and other incidentals such as tax adjustments, pension contributions, any exceptional medical repatriation costs and inbound / repatriation costs? If your own organisation bears any of these costs, then how does this affect the requirement to resign or take a ‘forced career break’?

    Finally, is there an obligation to return to your firm (express or implied) at the end of the assignment period? If so, then it further challenges the decision to treat it as a career break?

    Something I can share from my experience here is that in my former firm, the requirement to resign made some employees decide to look for better offers near the completion of their international assignment. Having gained some international exposure, they were as expected, more attractive to other employers including competitors, and the resignation letter they had been made to write became their ammunition against my employer’s ‘moral’ expectation that they return and put the experience gained to good use for them. So you may want to persuade your organisation to consider that possibility too.

    I can’t possibly exhaust all the issues but I hope you find this helpful. Do feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss some more.
  • In reply to Ibironke Tolu-Ogunpolu:

    Hello again Ibironke

    Thanks so much for your reply. It has clarified that the situation here is a secondment opportunity (I had mistakenly believed secondments had to be within the same organisation).

    I don't currently have the answers to all your questions, but they have provided food for thought and a starting point for me.

    I may be back with more questions at a later date!

    Thanks again.

    Alison