Financial News

Expat nomads fly in to benefit problems

Roving expat workers regularly flying between projects and countries are leaving employers with problems in providing health cover, pensions and other benefits.

More companies are sending expats to ‘firefight’ problem projects rather than leave them in one place, found a survey by benefits firm Mercers.

Now, 1 in 10 expats is a ‘nomad worker’ compared with 1 in 6 four years ago.

Because these expats work across borders, employers are facing a challenge in providing benefits packages that are valid in more than one country.

Although 76% of global companies confirmed they had benefits policy for mobile employees, but other have no policy or try to arrange benefits case by case.

Mercer’s Mark Price said: “Professionals who could bring their international experiences to a number of operating environments were increasingly vital to companies looking to create or expand new ventures abroad and gain a competitive advantage – but that arranging benefits for such workers could be complicated.”

Health insurance, Price explained, needs to off cross-country cover, while mobile expats have difficulties contributing to pensions when they do not know where they will live in retirement.

Around 12% of companies offer mobile workers offshore retirement schemes that are not attached to a specific country.

Over a third (38%) said did not have enough employees to justify the cost of a scheme, while 17% had never considered the option.

“Offshore plans may not address all concerns, such as taxation or facilitating exclusion from host country pension arrangements, depending on the jurisdictions concerned, but do go some way to allowing for continued pension plan membership under a single arrangement whilst employees are on various assignments,” said Price.

“They are very effective in providing consistent cover for mobile populations and in jurisdictions where no appropriate plans exist.”

The survey revealed the number of expats sent to a country for more than a year had doubled since 2008.

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