Menna Bowen participates in the IR Global Employment Working Virtual Series Home Work: The challenges of cross border remote working

Menna BowenPartner, Barrister, gunnercooke llp

The past year has witnessed a huge remote working experiment for many of the world’s businesses and their employees as a result of Covid-19. And, for many, these new working practices have become hugely complex depending on where in the world business owners and employees have suddenly found themselves. Almost overnight, people are in uncertain territory regarding issues involving employment law, tax, social security
and pensions, to name just a few.


What are the consequences for a business when an employee works from home on a semi-permanent basis, transferring their residence to another country?

I think there are a lot of red herrings here. The situation in the UK is very dependent on the individual one is talking about. Or the employer; depending on where they are situated and where the normal business is carried out. It also matters for what reason a person goes to work overeseas as this is just about accepted as a non tax reason to move out of the UK.The main red herring so to speak is the fact that you, under the UK system, do NOT necessarily become tax resident somewhere else just by spending time there, in and of itself. Most countries have different tests as to how your residence is determined, not just counting days. That, plus overlapping tax year ends and the all important treaty provisions as to residence for tax purposes need to considered when dealing with internationally mobile individuals. Similarly, one does not get out of most regulatory requirements by being resident somewhere else

Are there specific rules applicable to remote working in your country? How do they apply to domestic and foreign companies?

If you have a big multinational corporation you may want to check if there are different health and safety requirements or if you fulfill the necessary ISO requirements for using home as a base. But as the employee is working remotely, it is up to the employer to check all this. If you went to work abroad and got stuck because of Covid-19 you would still be subject to these standards even though you could be working in another country half way round the world

Will companies have to provide new policies for remote working? Will this include providing employees with the necessary equipment and reimbursing costs related to remote work?

I was in the fortunate position to have been on the other side of the world during the first two lockdowns in the UK. Having gone to Mauritius for business it seemed a good idea to stay there, but then it turned into a 9 Month stay which was a bit unexpected. The internet is super fast there most days and guess what now the Mauritian government are offering one year special “work remotely” visas. Apart from any IT disasters which could have been fatal and a bit of time difference it actually worked very well. Gunnercooke is so set up for remote working that it was pretty seamless and also is an eat what you kill model which I think is the better way forward for remote working as policing hours would I imagine get very boring indeed.

Also, despite 9 months out of the UK I will unfortunately however still be deemed UK tax resident.