INTRODUCTION & WELCOME:
Host: Vanessa Escalona, Director of Global Mobility and HR – Global Benefits, IQVIA welcomed the 38 attendees and kicked off the day’s discussions.
Facilitator: Beverly Bell, CRP, Regional Director, Client development/InterLink Relocation Resources
Vanessa, like others in the “ZOOM” room, recognizes the need for mobility leaders to network, and was pleased to pull the group together, even virtually. Thanked the sponsors, Ace Relocation/AtlasVan Lines-Jill Knicely, InterLink Relocation Resources/ Beverly Bell, and GlobalTax Network /Steve Hoffman
Emerging “Work from Anywhere” Environment: Challenges – Impact to Compliance – VISA-Immigration Update Led by David Livitt, GTN (Global Tax Network) & Elena Anderson-de Lay, At Ease Solutions LLC with Immigration Update
We began focused on Employees working from a “chosen location or home” at the front end of the pandemic. So many complex questions can be brought into this critical topic.
Where does the responsibility lie for tax compliance if the company permits remote working but makes it clear any tax implications are for the employee? i.e., the employee is responsible for his/her own tax compliance. But, can a company legally do that and absolve themselves? What are the employment law considerations of working remotely? (Triggered by Vanessa Escalona – IQVIA)
Also, resulting in multi challenges: What is required, if working in another location you do need an employee of record (employment law).
Compliance issues: Tax and SS need to be paid where you work. Then domestic rules: is there an entity? Do you need to withhold? Can really get into the weeds with many variables, and GTN can guide you through solutions.
What are the company obligations in this environment? 2020 is very up-in-the-air. Attitude is keeping withholding where the employee is working from. But, is it temporary, or is it going to change as a permanent setting going into 2021? Then you will have to review this with payroll, and the tax and SS components.
Upcoming Expat Assignments? Pay where you work is typical. (But review “local” rules.)
Permanent Establishment Risk: Needs to be Reviewed! (And understand the laws/rules to each location.) Is it required to have a corporate presence? Not necessarily.
Government Forgiving Taxes? Not likely. The necessity of tools to track where your employees are is critical. So many companies have no true knowledge of where their employees are right now. With Global Mobility: Pop-Up Policies / Tracking Technology / Hopeful that earlyQ-2 2021 will return to normalcy but we have made remote working “work” well over-all.
• Don’t forget to run a payroll for the employee
• Don’t forget social security and any relief through Totalization Agreements
• Make sure you are aware of the home and host country DoubleTax Treaty positions before filing
• Some countries will link immigration and taxes together for compliance
Elena Anderson-de Lay: Looked into the Immigration “Crystal Ball” as we are impacted by COVID, by-election, by fiscal year-end.(be flexible in your policy). Recording and reporting is going to critical in the immigration process.
TOPIC 2: Transitioning to this remote environment.
Michelle Keech: The “Biogen Journey” of developing the Remote Worker Policy is still in process. They are at different stages of return based on business units. Labs never closed! Lots of remote and it has been successful. They had 2 stages of mobility for policy changes. (Mobility is the lead on the plan).
Phase 1: In-country. Apply to any employee working from home in their country. They work in a global location yet local to that location. Global is the home country with no cross-borders. Cross-border will be addressed at a later time.
Operational Readiness: Working diligently to be prepared to hit the switch. (October 2nd is a key date). Corporate tax and legal are on board with. Implementation is likely in January 2021.
Neil Heline: Full disclosure of remote working changes. People need to get compliant. (These were actually in place prior to COVID, but recognize the need to get compliant.) Global location work policy, live and work in the same location.
1. Flexible work policy: need steps for approval to work remotely. Manager and employee change payroll and locations.
2. Telecommute policy such as sales folks, Manger and payroll for approval.
3. Code business policy verify payroll and location every year and sing-off.
Cisco is a very employee-friendly company and their managers are tracking them down and getting the right payroll location. Currently, Cisco is working with these (old) policies. It has worked for their 70,000-80,000 employees. Cisco Webex has enabled them to do this. Pay parade compensation is being discussed, with possible adjustments. (Working from high-cost locations to lesser. Example: person on the San Jose payroll and now working from India. Adjustments may be made in the future.) This is a huge undertaking with lots of different angles. Biogen is doing the same but doing this by regional ranges now. Before it was national.
TOPIC 3: Taking advantage of the CARES Act (SAVINGS!):
Jim Carroll, Sr. Manager, Global Mobility, WestRock:
Jim first shared with attendees that he did not make policy changes but did have a discussion around what his “one-man band” has done to bring dollars into his department. His “thunder” to the meeting was the reminder to our attendees to take advantage of the CARES act, Code Section 139 (Disaster Relief Payments) specifically, quoted below.
Code Section 139 allows employers to assist employees during a federally declared disaster with “qualified disaster relief payments” that are tax-free to the employee and fully deductible to the employer. In response to the ongoing pandemic, President Trump declared COVID-19 a national disaster on March 13, 2020, and as a result, qualified disaster payments can be made to employees without tax gross-up. That’s good news given the many extenuating circumstances associated with shelter in place and COVID-19 travel restrictions that disrupted employees on assignment or in the process of relocating when the pandemic struck.
The example Jim used: you pay for additional temporary living because a family had to “shelter in place” instead of proceeding to their final destination. These costs could be excluded from income and no tax gross-up would be paid. The rule of thumb often used for estimating tax gross-up is a factor of 60% (your tax gross-up formula may be different). So, on a $1,000 reimbursement designated a qualified disaster payment, you could avoid $600 in tax gross-up. That’s material cost avoidance.
Now do the math with your relocations. Thus far he has saved his company $100,000.00 in these tax gross-ups by reviewing what fell under the restrictions.
TOPIC 4: How does an RMC support their client during this unique time?
Ginger Merrick, Sr. Global Mobility Consultant, InterLink Relocation Resources: Ginger brings a unique view has been in the corporate mobility leader seat for over 20 years, before currently holding a Senior Global Mobility Consultant with RMC. She sees many areas through eyes that have both experiences and impact in full view. Hence, her addressing the now and the foreseeable future:
Supporting Clients—The RMC Perspective | Key Words: Strategic / Flexible / Agile / Innovative
Additional Group-Led Discussion Topics: Led by Beverly Bell, InterLink Relocation Resources.
What has changed in the current philosophy of the company regarding Relocation and Global Mobility?(Megan Honaker, Altria)
What we are doing with relocation in this “new world” is really looking at every potential move and seeing if we really need to have that person move. We have historically moved people to Richmond, VA for the Headquarter Experience, but that experience doesn’t really exist anymore, in the way that it has in the past. What we are finding with this new approach is that we are creating a greater candidate pool, because we are not requiring everyone to move as we would have in the past. As of right now, we are not planning on making any changes to our relocation offerings. How are you adjusting your mobility benefits based on any new philosophy? (Megan) As of right now, we are not planning on making any changes to our relocation offerings.
As panelists chimed in, we learned that there is a small % of companies recognizing they can function remotely very effectively. A larger % agree that their culture and hope are to back to their offices when this (pandemic) is behind us.
Health & Wellness — Suggestions in support of the employee in the “working from home” environment? Anything changing with benefits offerings? (Eric Rioux, Lockton: Per Eric, 70% of companies have made no significant changes to benefits; 30% made significant changes.
Last year was all about to attract and retain employees, this year is about helping employees. Stipends for home offices, childcare, telemedicine, and virtual mental health assistance. Eric mentioned The Ginger program, and this can be made available to companies that have an interest in learning more about this for their employees. (He can be reached via email@example.com.) His contact information was also included on the list of attendees shared with all in attendance.)
Thomas Rossman, Fidelity led into how the company supports to Diversity & Inclusion) shared the culture of benefits being made to a diverse workforce/family. Expanded & New benefits similar to Ginger were added. The CEO of Fidelity made a public statement against killings and promoting equality. ”Actions Speak Louder Than Words” Inclusion practices were introduced into all discussions. He has a fabulous 1-minute training video on racial equality and how to address it with colleagues. (that link was sent to all attendees following the Round Table.
What adjustment to workload /responsibility if HR & Mobility staff is reduced? Jim Carroll said he is an army of 1. Volume is down 40% but he has no free time. Lots of abnormal work problems that require management. Immigration is very time consuming and complex.
James Wallace of Red Hat is very busy with new responsibilities. Critical business travel is now in his department. Requests for travel are sent, forms submitted, approvals made with his sign off as well. ( 400 requests have been made for approval.) Jim advised this resides in travel at WestRock.
Interns / Leadership Training Programs: What will they look like in the future? (James Wallace, Red Hat) Unfortunately did not get to this topic (time ran over).
Impact on the Household Good Process/and does it have an impact on our cost? (Richard Clarke, Ace Relocation/Atlas Van Lines) discussed the household goods industry changes. Technology is so important, begins with in-home video surveys. Paperless documents. PPE is expensive and adds time to performing services for moves, especially larger moves. Changes in loading and unloading processes and even some requests for no comingling of shipments. Ace has not passed these extra charges along to our clients. Corporate moves are down but personal (C.O.D.) moves are way up. PS: Employees are leaving urban locations to work where they like.
We hope to see you at our next Mobility and Talent Management Roundtable!