to be in a position where you can issue immediate notifications and messages to employees in potential danger. I have knowledge of some organisations looking at the possibility to leverage mobile devices to track the whereabouts of their offshore employees. Clearly this has major ramifications around individual privacy so we need to tread carefully around this question. One recommendation I saw was to use the mobile signal to identify city/town location only rather than a specific address.
There is the possibility of course to have the assignee self declare his whereabouts through some kind of mobile declaration that would mitigate much of the privacy concern. Turning to risk management I want to primarily focus on corporate risk rather than individual immigration risk which has been well covered in assignee forums. The rise of the short term business traveller has created a compliance nightmare for those responsible for corporate taxation, and the nightmare is called ‘the accidental PE’. I have seen cases where company X has multiple employees travelling to a non treaty location for project work, the problem being that nobody in the tax of mobility function had any idea they were there.
The collective presence and the nature of work performed had triggered a potential PE in the host country with significant potential tax costs. If as a company you deploy significant numbers of project workers we could be talking about a serious compliance concern unless mitigated effectively. So what can be done around this issue? In my experience there are two key questions. 1) Who owns the process – I believe mobility has to step forward and take ownership and full responsibility for this issue 2) Mitigation through planning – Develop a process that allows you to make proactive compliance decisions before the employee gets on the plane; bring your global travel provider into loop to deliver the data you need The talent angle is slightly more opaque but still warrants a mention.
It strikes me that here in Australia we are light years away from embracing the notion of talent mobility, in part because there are to many disconnects in the data flow and mobility continues to operate in a functional vacuum outside of the core HR functions. In the scenario mentioned earlier with short term travellers you want your data to be able to answer the question – Is this the right person to send or is there someone locally who has the right skillset? We’ll talk more about the demands of talent mobility in a future piece. Do contact us if you would like to explore these issues in relation to your own company. Your industry body is here to serve.