Risks grow in 'Home Working' from abroad

Almost a quarter of UK office workers questioned in a new survey said they planned to take advantage of post-pandemic remote working arrangements by taking a break abroad this year while, theoretically, continuing to work from home. And 32 per cent of those planning to do so admitted that it would be in breach of their companies' rules.

home working from abroad

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Global risk management and insurance broker Gallagher, which conducted the survey among more than 2,000 employees, warned that even those who worked from abroad with their companies' approval, posed "risk implications" for themselves and their employers.Neil Hodgson, managing director of risk management at Gallagher, said: “The rise in remote working has given many UK employees greater freedom and flexibility in where they do their work, but there are particular risks to working overseas which need to be considered.“It is vital that both employees and employers give significant consideration to their flexible working policies, ensuring they are fit for purpose, understand the insurance consequences of remote and international working, and are in line with all relevant employment laws.”The survey found that 23 per cent of those surveyed planned to take a break and work from abroad, with Spain, Dubai and Barbados being the most popular destinations.Gallagher said that the dramatic increase in hybrid working in the post-pandemic era had now encouraged a 'work from anywhere' culture, with the survey finding that 14 per cent of respondents saying they would keep their plans to work abroad secret from their employers.The report said that working from overseas came with an increased risk of breaching laws in some destinations and invalidating insurance. "What’s more is almost three in ten (27 per cent) overseas workers have faced challenges that impacted their ability to work, including travel disruption, damaged, stolen and lost technology as well as personal accidents."Gallagher pointed out that, by law, UK businesses had to have employee liability insurance, which could be invalidated if employees were working abroad and the insurer was not informed.Additionally, the report said businesses remained responsible for the health and safety of their staff regardless of where they were working, meaning that if an employee had an accident, the firm could be liable for the resulting financial fallout.The survey found that only 49 per cent of those working from abroad took out only personal insurance and that more than half were unaware of details of their company insurance policy when working overseas."There are also significant local law implications for firms who have employees working in different countries, and without knowledge of these, businesses could find themselves the wrong side of the law," Gallagher added."For example, this could include health and safety regulations, data laws, salary and working hour rules, IT licences and medical insurance requirements."There were also cybersecurity risks as working from overseas increased the chance of employees connecting to unsecure wi-fi networks."Employees themselves are at risk of falling foul of rules, too," the report added. "It is a common misconception that individuals may enter a country as a 'visitor' and work remotely from a country without first obtaining a work visa. Plus, by working overseas, employees may cause taxation issues and problems with benefits such as pensions."Gallagher said their research came at a time when employees were increasingly seeking more flexible working arrangements, with 73 per cent of all UK office employers now working hybrid weeks.

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