It is currently a requirement that the vast majority of staff with a University employment contract carry out their work at the University and from the UK.
Arrangements for employing staff overseas can be complex and there are very significant risks − both financial and immigration-related − that need to be fully understood first. These costs and risks inevitably fall on the requester's department and must be fully considered, funded and authorised before any decision to agree to such an overseas working arrangement is made. Other factors that will need to be taken into consideration include:
- the type of work and whether the role can be reasonably carried out from overseas*
- the length of the arrangement
- where the work will be carried out
- the employee's country of residence
We have set up the Overseas Working Group (OWG) and instructed a Global Mobility Service Provider, Anderson, Anderson & Brown (AAB) to advise and assist line managers, Heads of Department and the University on these complex matters.
The Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) have recently produced a useful toolkit and decision map for all UK universities. These documents will provide assistance when considering requests to work overseas and making decisions around these type of situations.
Before an overseas working arrangement can take place, approval must first be sought from the OWG by following the process set out on this page and in this flowchart. Approval should be obtained within a reasonable timeframe of the arrangement starting so the OWG have sufficient time to take the necessary steps to ensure compliance and put contractual arrangements in place.
Tax and social security issues
There may be additional tax and social security issues for staff leading to very significant additional costs if they are working for the University from outside the UK.
The cost of specialist tax and social security advice, creating an overseas payroll and additional tax and social security contributions will fall on the budget of the employing department. These costs may vary from a minimum of around £9,000 of additional cost up to over £50,000. If a permanent establishment is created in the country where the staff member is working, the costs can be even greater than this and can be ongoing. A number of universities have fallen into this situation without identifying it until too late, in some cases incurring millions of pounds of costs.
Immigration and right to work issues
There may also be significant immigration issues if the staff member employed by the University is working overseas.
A member of staff based overseas will need to have the legal right to live and work in that country. Working overseas on a UK visa, even for a short period, may negatively affect a future Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application (if applicable) or in some cases invalidate their right to work in the UK altogether.
If the staff member will be expected to visit the UK in order to carry out duties as part of their employment, they must have the right to work in the UK and therefore may require a visa. In such cases, the right to work check requirements will apply.
It is therefore essential that the impact on the staff member's immigration status is fully considered before a request to work overseas is agreed by the University.
Line manager responsibility
Seek advice from your HR Business Partner or Advisor on any member of staff (new or existing) who has requested to work overseas for any period. To help with this, please ask the member of staff to complete the Overseas Working Questionnaire and complete your relevant sections of the form.
If you approve the request, please complete the Overseas Working Review Form (Part A: Line Manager Review Section). Please email this and the completed Overseas Working Questionnaire to firstname.lastname@example.org for Immigration Review and subsequent initiation of the contract variation.
If the overseas working request is for more than three months, please forward the completed Overseas Working Questionnaire and Overseas Working Review Form to your HoD for approval and subsequent checks.
Head of Department responsibility
Seek advice from your HR Business Partner or Advisor on the overseas working request.
Identify and authorise funding and complete the Overseas Working Review Form (Part A: HoD Review Section). You'll need to identify and secure the funding for this additional cost from your budget and authorise its use for this cost. Email the Overseas Working Review Form along with the completed Overseas Working Questionnaire to the Staff Immigration Team at email@example.com for Immigration Review. If approved by the Staff Immigration Team in principle, the request will proceed to the Payroll & Social Security Review Stage and subsequent referral to AAB (our Global Mobility Service Provider) for specialist advice and cost assessment.
Approve (or reject) the overseas working request based on the AAB Assessment Report. Once approved, you will need to confirm the arrangements to the staff member concerned with advice and support from HR, where required, which will include a variation to contract for the staff member.
It is the responsibility of all University employees (both existing staff and new joiners) to inform their line manager and Head of Department if they are in a situation where they cannot return to the UK to work or are requesting to work outside of the UK. They must request agreement to work overseas for a temporary or fixed period before they start working in this way. Overseas working will require specific agreement from the University and a variation to contract before they are able to start work.
Overseas Working Group responsibility
It is the responsibility of the OWG to advise the University, Heads of Department, line managers and staff about the risks and costs of working overseas. They will advise where and how this arrangement can be legally applied, taking legal and professional advice where required. OWG will consider all requests made by line managers and Heads of Department to work overseas.
*Please note, the OWG will not support a request to work from overseas on either an Hourly Paid Worker or Variable Hours Contract due to the risks and costs involved.