From: Ned Help
To: Carrie Counselor
Date: April 5, 2016
Subject: Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad
As promised, I am following up on my email from last week regarding some additional resources for employees working abroad. The offer/assignment letter is a great place to specifically outline additional resources and tools the employer will provide to the employee stationed abroad, which may include the following:
- A Safety Hotline. Employers should provide employees a single number they can call for round-the-clock help for emergencies like immediate travel needs, passport / visa problems, and health issues. Although this is extremely effective, you might be surprised to know that only 22% of international employers provide any emergency contact information, according to Travel Weekly. There are numerous third-party vendors who can assist you with this support, or – if it makes sense business-wise – you can provide this service internally.
- New-Arrival Transition. Companies should have another employee or appropriate company representative/liaison meet the traveling employee when they reach their destination. This person should be familiar with the area’s geography, local currency, and customs and should remain in the area for at least one week while the employee gets settled. If providing Company-sponsored internal support is impractical, we suggest partnering with a local relocation specialist, who can provide concierege-level support based on your internal needs.
- A Domestic Manager. Companies should have a single point of contact for employees who have non-emergency questions or who have typical employment-related grievances that would domestically be addressed by Human Resources. To the extent possible, this contact should be the same throughout the course of the assignment to provide the employee with continuity and consistency.
- Consular Monitoring Programs. Make it mandatory for all employees traveling internationally or stationed abroad to register with the local embassy or consulate of their home country. For US citizens, for example, this can be accomplished through the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Through this program, a periodic business traveler can register individual trips with the consular post, and frequent business travelers and short/long term transferees can create individual profiles, or a group profile if employees are traveling as a team. The benefits of enrolling in STEP include the following :
- Receiving important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in the country of destination, and helping the traveler make informed decisions about his or her travel plans.
- Enabling the U.S. Embassy to contact the registered traveler in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Helping family and friends get in touch with the traveler in an emergency.
Remember, it is ultimately the employee who is risking their life traveling abroad. Not only should the offer letter empower the employee with information useful in determining whether to accept a job, but employers should vest employees – in writing – with the ability to use their own judgement regarding safety. If a meeting location or time is suspicious or of concern, the employee abroad should have final say about last-minute cancellations. Transparency and empowerment can help employees abroad navigate and confidently handle acts of terrorism, petty crime, and – most common – natural disasters like earthquakes, power outages, and floods.
If you have any questions about any of the above or if you wish to discuss the various employment, immigration and corporate structure issues that surround stationing employees overseas, feel free to call or email at any time.