Dual careers and spouse/partner support factsheet

A factsheet on the importance of supporting relocating partners during relocations and international assignments is now available as part of Relocate’s Global Mobility Toolkit. Download your free copy.

Dual Careers and Spouse/PartnerSupport toolkit
A new employee and family support factsheet in Relocate’s Global Mobility Toolkit, which provides information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas, is now available to download.
Download the global mobility toolkit factsheet
The content of the Dual Careers and Spouse/Partner Support factsheet includes:
  • The need for dual-career and spouse/partner support
  • International mobility and pursuing a career abroad 
  • Policy implications
  • Cost implications
  • Useful contacts
  • Further reading


The need for dual-career and spouse/partner support

Relocation, whether to another part of the country or internationally, affects not only the employee being moved to a new job but also their family members.Dual-income couples may be unable to relocate if the maintenance of family income levels is a necessity and the accompanying partner is unable to undertake paid employment upon relocation. In addition to reducing the family’s income in the immediate term, periods of unemployment may result in lost promotion opportunities and reduced pension provision for the accompanying partner in the longer term.Working spouses/partners may also wish to seek opportunities for paid employment to preserve their financial independence.However, money is not the only driver; career development and growth may be equally, if not more, important to the accompanying partner. Research highlights that one of the major causes of assignment refusal or failure relates to dual-career partnerships. Each partner in a dual-career couple is highly qualified and pursues their own individual career goals. If the relocation of one partner jeopardises the career of the other, the planned move is unlikely to be accepted unless it is possible to service the relocated employment role via an alternative arrangement, such as long-distance or international commuting.

International mobility and pursuing a career abroad

When the relocation involves an international move, the difficulties facing dual-career couples multiply significantly. There may be barriers to spouses/partners taking up employment. These include: 
  • Work-permit/visa restrictions
  • Non-recognition of home-country qualifications
  • Language requirements
  • Lack of career/work opportunities
  • Cultural differences
Work-permit and visa regimes may preclude partners from accompanying the employee and/or being able to work in the host location. Spouses/partners may need to secure their own approved work status and/or employer sponsorship ahead of the relocation.Where qualifications are not recognised, updating and/or retraining may be required. To be competitive in the host-country jobs market, the spouse/partner may need to improve their language capability significantly. Undertaking the level of training required to meet local qualification and language requirements may be unrealistic, given the short timescales under which international moves are generally undertaken.The transfer of one partner to a particular location abroad may result in very few, if any, suitable employment opportunities for the accompanying partner, especially if their area of expertise is specialised.
Download the global mobility toolkit factsheet

Also in the Employee and Family Support Toolkit

Available now:Factsheet 1: Guiding Principles – Family IssuesComing soon:
  • International Education – Options and Policy Trends
  • Relocating with Pets
  • Higher Education
  • Health, Wellbeing and Work Life Balance

For a full list of Global Mobility Toolkit components, and to download your free resources, visit our Global Mobility Toolkit Factsheet and Digital Resource Hub 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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