Policy content for long term international assignments factsheet

A factsheet on the elements that should be included in an international mobility policy for long-term assignments is now available as part of Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit. Download your free copy.

Global Mobility Toolkit: Relocation Policy International Assingments
The first components in Relocate Global’s new online mobility toolkit, which provides information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas, are now available to download.
Download the global mobility toolkit factsheet
The content of the International Mobility – Policy Content (Long Term Assignments) factsheet – part of the Relocation Policy Design and Review Toolkit – includes:
  • Definitions
  • Eligibility
  • Remuneration options
  • Salary considerations
  • Housing and removals
  • Transport, travel and leave
  • Other core policy elements
  • Family issues
  • Repatriation or localisation
  • Updating policy
  • Useful contacts
  • Further reading 
To keep up to date with best practice, and to gain strategic insight and operational know-how, download your free copy today.



Long-term assignments are typically defined as lasting between one and five years, after which the assignee returns home or goes on to another assignment.An assignment of less than a year’s duration is usually classed as short-term.If the assignee commutes from their home country to and from the assignment, it is classed as a commuter assignment. In each case, different policy content applies.Different policies also apply to business travel, permanent (one-way) moves, and when assignees remain in the host location once their assignment term is completed.


Eligibility criteria should be included, together with the policy elements that apply in respect of these. Different levels of benefits may apply, according to grade/salary level and to combinations of home and host locations.Policy elements are also likely to differ according to the assignment’s purpose. For example, senior managers sent on long-term assignments to undertake strategic duties (such as country manager roles) may receive different treatment from operational staff being transferred to fill skills gaps or to train local staff before returning home.Graduate trainees and middle managers who are part of developmental mobile cadres are likely to receive different levels of benefits, reflecting their seniority and expertise and the developmental nature of their assignments. 

Remuneration options

Remuneration systems that might be used and specified within policy fall under three main headings: 
  • Home-based (the balance sheet), under which assignees retain equity with their home-country peers
  • Host-based (local pay), under which equity is maintained with locals in the assignment destination
  • Global compensation, under which assignees retain equity with other expatriates
The most commonly used approach is the home-based balance sheet. This works well if the intention is for the assignee to be repatriated at the end of the assignment.Under this approach, the assignee is, theoretically, no better or worse off by working abroad, as adjustments are made to the remuneration package to ensure that home-country spending and saving patterns are maintained. Tax equalisation applies, to ensure that the assignee pays no more (or less) tax than at home.Host-based or local pay (typically with some extra allowances, most usually to address housing and children’s education) can work effectively where the cost-adjusted net incomes in the home and host countries are relatively similar.If the local net salary is too low compared with that at home, the assignment will not be attractive; if it is too high, the assignee may not wish to repatriate. Using this approach will require consideration of home and host tax and cost-of-living, social security and pensions issues, as the assignee is ‘treated like a local’.Global compensation may be used when expatriates are part of mobile cadres moving from one country to another and no longer retain a home base. Common pay grades and incentive programmes apply. These remuneration structures can be complex, as they need to ensure that the assignee can move between very different locations in relation to salary norms, cost of living, tax regimes, and so on. 

Salary considerations

If a home-based salary approach is used, other elements of remuneration to be considered include:
  • A cost-of-living allowance to reflect higher costs of goods and services in the host location, or the application of a negative cost-of-living index if these are lower than at home
  • A foreign-service premium (an uplift to salary) to reflect mobility, or one-off mobility allowances to provide an incentive to undertake mobility (on expatriation, and possibly also on repatriation)
  • A hardship or location allowance as appropriate
  • A disturbance allowance
Host-based and global remuneration approaches are unlikely to include such additions. 
Download the global mobility toolkit factsheet

Also in the Relocation Policy Design and Review Toolkit

Available now:Coming soon: 
  • International Mobility – Policy Content (Short Term, Commuter and Business Travel)
  • International Policy Trends Analysis
  • International Reward Strategy (Home, Host and Others)
  • Domestic Mobility/In Country Relocations

For a full list of Global Mobility Toolkit components, and to download your free resources, visit our Global Mobility Toolkit Resource Centre page.

For information on sponsorship opportunities, call Fiona Murchie, managing editor, on +44 (0)1892 891334, or email A range of aligned products and resources will be available from the new Relocate Global e-commerce store, coming later this year.

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