Relocating UK employees to first USA office

Hi All

We are in the process of opening our first US office in Austin, Texas, which three members of our UK staff will be relocating to (two with their families).

I am in the process of arranging the visa side of things, however my MD has advised that he'd like them to be on US contracts rather than 'at-will'. (Our US employees will be at-will).

I'm looking for some guidance with this as its completely new to me (and the company!). Initially I assumed the UK employees would be classed as being on secondment to the US (albeit for around 5 years), however my Director has expressed that he would like them to be on US contracts.

Many thanks in advance, 


  • Hi Laura,

    I have some experience with this as we have offices / workshops in the UK and latterly Texas.

    Do you know the reason behind your MD stating he would like them on the USA contract?

    This can be complete, however I can't imagine your employees wishing to move to another country with there family and then going on a contract of an at will state.  You would need to consult them with this. I know with our employees who have relocated to Texas they want the stability so that if anything was to happen to the company over there they have the ability to come back to the UK.  You want to make the transition as smooth as possible so that they want to stay out there and have that feeling they have nothing to worry about.

    Also if there is a strong connention to the UK there has been case law where employees who work overseas have been covered by UK legislation anyway.

    I would be mindful that even though Texas is an 'At Will' state it is popular with no win no fee cases.  There is a number of employment law that you need to be aware of  discrimination, payday law, child labor , minimum wage & overtime infomation.

    If you are looking for more advice I found the following sites helpful, www.twc.state.tx.us and www.shrm.org

    Hope this helps, however if I can be of anymore help just ask.



  • Hi Laura

    I am final year Human Resources Management student London Metropolitan  i don't have international experience but for what i have learned from the university i believe i can offer an advice.

    How well these people have been prepared for?  As the other lady said you want the transition to be very smooth for them.   There are lots of actors that need to be taken into account. The children school,  the spouse mobility, and the whole environment this include health and safety, health insurance, pension, and other benefits.  

    American culture is difference from UK the laws are difference and people expectation are different.  Is the assignment be a long term or short term? In what way is your organisation is going to support these people.

     Is it this going to be ethnocentric where by the head office will still be in UK? or polycenthric where these people will be able to manage the assignment their own way?    All these people need to be aware of culture shock during and after the assignment.  Does these people contract says where they take international assignment their contract will be change to Host country?  If the people fail to achieve your organisation aims what happen next.   

    Please a lot of questions need to be asked find out why the manager want to change their contract.  







  • Thanks Claire and Theresa for your replies.

    The staff who will be relocating have been well prepared, and involved in all aspects of the venture, including selecting the office and are kept fully up to speed through their attendance at our weekly project meetings.  Their families have travelled with them to make sure they are happy to relocate and have visited local schools etc.

    We are supporting them financially (rent, mobiles, utilities, cars etc) for the first 6 months, after which they will be responsible.  They also have an annual flight allowance to visit family back in the UK. 

    I'm happy and confident that we have consulted and supported our employees so don't have any worries on that front (at the moment!)

    We are completely against placing our UK employees on at-will contracts and are working with a law firm to draw up employment contracts to mirror our own (as much as practicable, and relating to US federal and state law)  Not only to protect our requirements, but to provide stability and demonstrate our commitment to them.

    I will update the thread with the outcome of the contract side of things from the US lawyers, incase it proves to be helpful to others who may be in the same boat. 

    Many thanks