Alan Fergusson, Director of Employee Benefits – Worldwide Broker Network

WBN is delighted to continue its Technical Partner relationship with The RES Forum.

As an organisation, we’ve been tracking how International Remote Working (IRW) is evolving right in front of us. As a practice, it’s gaining new terminology, processes and potential risks almost daily. Our brokers and benefits consultants are focussed on the new risks that changes to IRW will present to the employers of international remote workers.

While IRW has been evolving over recent years, the Covid-19 Pandemic has accelerated that trend and organisations are being approached by more employees about not just working from home but working from a home in a different country than they are currently employed.

It’s critical that employers safely, legally, and productively enable their employees to work remotely, outside of their current country of work and residence. At the same time, they must focus on retaining and motivating employees, while ensuring business goals are met.

To do this, employers need to determine if the employee will still be as effective and deliver the appropriate return on the employer’s investment while working remotely. They must also evaluate the costs of local country compliance issues.

Questions to ask include: will there be a local entity required? Is the employee allowed to work or not on their visa? And how will the employer respond if their employee’s status is legally challenged? Along with any other local country compliance requirements.

Of course, the legal and regulatory environment is only one area to consider, there are other real risks that need to be managed such as what if medical treatment is needed, an injury occurs, or liability is caused to someone else physically or otherwise – would the employer be sued and where?

And while the external factors are perhaps the most pressing to be addressed, it is vital not to forget the internal concerns. Will employers want managers to make unilateral decisions to allow individual employees to work from another country or rather have a transparent policy in place?

As brokers, we engage with clients on these questions throughout the year and provide legal and HR referrals, guidance and appropriate coverage recommendations. It’s important not to forget that each decision about international remote working should consider how insurance coverage behaves and what risks can be mitigated by employers.

An informed decision-making process at each step will be critically important in protecting the client and the employee. The risks around IRW are evolving. This means the market and coverage needs to flex and evolve too.

At WBN, our global network of 120+ brokers across 100+ countries can deliver specialist advice around these changes and challenges, with an eco-system of added value services that apply in this space.

This piece was written as the foreword to our research paper International Remote Working, the emergence of a new paradigm.

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Worldwide Broker Network

Founded in 1989, today WBN has more than 120 member firms across over 100 countries. With revenues at the end of 2020 of more than $6 billion, WBN is the world’s largest independent network of property and casualty brokers and employee benefits consultants and one of the top five broking entities. WBN’s unique contribution to the insurance industry is global access to expertise via the senior leadership of its member firms across the world. Using data and technology to deliver a seamless level of individual service, its members value working together to deliver for its international client base above all else.