Executive Perspectives: Know Where Your Mobile Employees Are

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Jennifer Patrona

Jennifer Patrona

Senior Vice President, Global Financial Operations

As BGRS’s Senior Vice President of Global Financial Operations, Jennifer has more than 25 years of global mobility tax and payroll experience in professional services firms. She draws on this and her extensive financial and cost management experience to lead her team of financial experts to service our clients. Jennifer has vast experience in supporting multinational clients through the issues that most mobility programs encounter, such as expatriate tax compliance and planning, risk and cost mitigation, international payroll, financial engagement management, and employee mobility policy matters. Jennifer also serves as Executive Sponsor for TripWise™, BGRS’s extended business traveler solution.

The COVID-19 crisis led to severe business disruptions as companies rushed to maintain business continuity, while fulfilling their duty of care obligations to employees. Business travel was temporarily halted in some locations, leaving employees stranded while many international assignees had to be repatriated. Reliable tracking of mobile employees has historically been challenging. The current crisis created a heightened need for readily available mobile employee location data.

The direct impact of the global pandemic aside, other geopolitical and regulatory factors also impact compliance, create risk, and increase the need to track employee movement. The revised Posted Workers Directive and the departure of Great Britain from the European Union (EU) are just two contemporary examples affecting mobility between and into the EU states.

All types of employee mobility bring up various tax and immigration compliance considerations. Short term mobility, extended business travel, and now virtual mobility are mobility types that are more complex from a compliance perspective and ones that rely more heavily on near real-time employee tracking.

All types of employee mobility bring up various tax and immigration compliance considerations. Short term mobility, extended business travel, and now virtual mobility are mobility types that are more complex from a compliance perspective and ones that rely more heavily on near real-time employee tracking. When work is performed remotely from a third country, permanent establishment can be another risk area. The risk of any of these employees triggering unforeseen tax or immigration liability or being non-compliant is significant.

Duty of care and security concerns are another important reason why a company should have a process in place to monitor the movement of their employees. The events of 2020 demonstrated how critical it is for companies to have an agile solution to warn, protect, and assist employees in the event a crisis of a regional or global scale occurs. In many organizations, the complexity of managing compliance and duty of care is exacerbated by the fact that the ownership for monitoring and managing the associated risks of short-term and virtual mobility is not clearly defined. While the mobility function may be involved due to their expertise in cross-border immigration and tax, many other departments such as Human Resources, Tax, Finance, the business units, and the employees themselves will need to be involved in defining and configuring a holistic solution.

BGRS recognizes these needs and offers full consultancy support when it comes to policy and program design and solution configuration. Built on the back of these requirements, our TripWiseTM solution enables our clients to track, monitor, and report on their entire business traveler population and virtually mobile workforce. TripWise™ has a built-in risk management and notifications workflow, Posted Workers Directive compliance module, crisis communications alert functionality, and is fully configurable to an organization’s specific workforce needs.

Proactively spotting travel and location trends, effective crisis response, identifying possible compliance issues or opportunities to refine the policy or program structure is where a well-configured digital solution typically delivers the most value.

Leveraging program data for insight is another underutilized aspect of business travel and short-term mobility management we often see. Proactively spotting travel and location trends, effective crisis response, identifying possible compliance issues or opportunities to refine the policy or program structure is where a well-configured digital solution typically delivers the most value.

I am often asked about the future of business travel and mobility. Shorter-term mobility was already on the rise before 2020. We anticipate that trend to continue and increase as companies consider short-term mobility and extended business travel, potentially supplemented by virtual mobility, as options where health and security concerns may cause a resistance to longer-term employee moves. Implementing a tool that can monitor this type of mobility is increasingly seen as a necessary addition to a growing number of solutions that global organizations will need to manage their international operations. Given the current climate, an organization’s investment in a robust employee tracking solution typically far outweighs the risk and potential cost associated with non-compliance.

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