The essential guide to managing the health of international teleworkers


Ema Boccagni, Commercial Director EMEA – ECA International (ECA),

October 7, 2021

The health of employees is essential to the management of any business, and this has been reaffirmed over the past 19 months as businesses have had to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and manage policies and staff in response to the changing employment landscape. .

With many employees working remotely on international assignments due to the pandemic, there are key considerations regarding liability, health and insurance claims, all of which are vital for global mobility experts and managers. HR.

Understand where the responsibility falls
The pandemic has led to a significant increase in work from home and questions regarding the employer’s liability for home incidents while a worker is on duty. This also applies to international remote working and different jurisdictions have different laws in this area, so it is important for HR staff to know what is required and what the responsibilities of the company are.

For example, a Singapore-based employee who works remotely from home for an Australia-based employer may be covered by Australian workers compensation laws. Therefore, if the employee has an accident at home, he may be liable for compensation under Australian law.

Access to medical care and insurance
Health care and medical insurance are another key consideration; several countries restrict access to public health care to citizens, residents or those who contribute to their social security schemes. Therefore, a person from Australia who is employed by a company in China and who has chosen to reside in Hong Kong will not have the same level of access to hospital services, and the fees they will pay will be significantly higher. higher than those applicable to Hong Kong residents. .

Before using virtual assignments, global mobility teams should also check with their medical insurance provider whether employees who continue to stay and work in their home country would still be covered by the medical insurance policy. of the company, if the employee works for a subsidiary in another country.

In addition, it is important to stay abreast of changes in the political landscape of assignees, to ensure that new regulations and laws will not alter the conditions of access to medical care or result in additional costs that will have to be reimbursed. For example, concerns have been expressed about the possibility of European health insurance cards being phased out after Brexit, which should have been reviewed by GM teams and fully taken into account to provide sufficient coverage.

Health examinations
As overseas travel picks up, employers need to consider employee health before making short-term assignments and business travel; medical examinations and immunization status will be a key consideration for HR managers. Currently, prior to travel, health checks are carried out on those affected to assess whether the person has any underlying risks that could be made worse by the mission, putting them in a life-threatening situation or if treatment is not possible. is not readily available.

In the context, the policies would allow for preventive measures to be taken against an individual who suffers from respiratory diseases, seeking to relocate to a location at high risk of Covid-19, where the individual has not been fully vaccinated.

Having a duty of care towards its staff is the guiding principle of an organization. Thus, although assignees are free to refuse vaccination on request before a business trip, the employer can also refuse the trip on the grounds that the destination presents a high risk. to the individual, as well as to family, friends and colleagues upon return. In many cases, the decision is not even up to the employer, as immigration authorities will have certain vaccination requirements that HR teams will need to be informed and advised about.

In conclusion, it is imperative that global mobility and HR experts take into account various factors related to the health and well-being of all remote employees overseas and those who need to resume overseas assignments, in order to meet the required standards of practice as an employer.

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