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We recently held our in-person Spring 2022 North-East Mobility Forum.

Spring 2022 NEMF meeting

Hosted in central Newcastle at the Vermont Hotel, the all-day event gave our Global Mobility and HR forum members the chance to connect and knowledge share during interactive workshops, guided by our panel of expert speakers. The event ended with a networking opportunity for the group, which we hosted in Above Bar, overlooking the River Tyne and Quayside.

About the forum

Originally set-up in 2018, the North-East Mobility Forum (NEMF) forms part of our global series of events. Our aim is to provide key members of Global Mobility and HR industries with the chance to learn about key mobility topics, whilst also creating a space where peers can network and share ideas with each other.

Led by K2’s Huw Thomas, UK Client Development Manager, and Richard Rutledge, Executive Business Director, with support from Account Manager, Bailey Johnson, Bespoke Relocation Manager, Rheannon Chaplin and Marketing Executive, Emma Kerslake, attendees heard from our expert speakers on a range of current global mobility topics, including Sustainability in Global Mobility (led by K2’s Richard Rutledge), tax updates (led by Davyd Fisher, Grant Thornton), remote working policies (led by Katherine Robson, Sage) and K2’s response to crisis management in Ukraine (led by the K2 team).

Key takeaways

Below, you will find a summary of key takeaways from the event…

Sustainability in Global Mobility – Richard Rutledge

K2 sustainable actions
The following actions were discussed, with reasoning on why they have been taken, including alignment to clients’ actions and value they will deliver to Global Mobility.

  • United Nations Global Compact participant in February 2022
  • Support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • UN Climate Ambition Accelerator program,  Net-Zero 2050, SBTi
  • Net Zero Scope 1 & 2 by end of 2023
  • Ambitious carbon footprint reduction in supply chain (Scope 3)
  • Bath University, reduce plastics, waste, sustainable supply chain
  • ISO:14001 since 2015
  • EcoVadis sustainability assessment

Audience discussions: How have you incorporated Sustainability into your Global Mobility program?

  • One of our attendees confirmed that they are incorporating an optional green policy for assignees, to choose whether they use rental furniture or ship their household goods.
  • Another of the companies in attendance confirmed that they are putting a stop to commuter assignments. Instead, they are asking employees who frequently travel to look at site requirements with their Global Mobility team.
  • Another of the participating companies confirmed that they have a policy in place which identifies whether an employee’s travel is critical enough, and if the mode of transport can be justified. They are also not allowing business class travel and are encouraging virtual assignments where possible.
  • One of our speakers confirmed that their organisation are changing the way benefits are received to allow for an electric car allowance. Others in attendance, along with K2, also confirmed that they have electric vehicle initiatives in place within the company.
  • Another of the companies stated that Global Mobility hadn’t yet aligned with Sustainability. Although billions within the company had been invested to increase Sustainability practices, this had not yet made its way over to GM.

Tax updates – Davyd Fisher, Grant Thornton

Year-end compliance obligations

  • No extensions on the year-end tax obligations this year and deadlines will remain in place.
  • HMRC are struggling with staffing which means response times are down. This is having a negative impact on tax partners response times.
  • Benefits and expenses reporting reminder– some benefits are tax exempt, such as business expenses and statutory exemptions (benefits), but employers must ensure these fall within the guidelines outlined by HMRC.

Short term business visitors

  • There will be a relaxation to PAYE for business travellers who meet exemption from UK tax under the terms of a double tax treaty.
  • There will also be a special annual PAYE arrangement for business travellers who do not meet the requirements for exemption but spend less than 60 days in the UK during the tax year.
  • If you spend over 150 days on an overseas assignment, you should get pre-approval, otherwise there is a risk that this could lead to further reviews or rescind.

Globally mobile employees

  • All of the usual rules apply for Ukraine nationals coming to the UK, but there is a 6 week grace period on NI contributions.
  • HMRC Expatriate Forum – there are delays and procedural issues driven by HMRC staffing issues.
  • With regards to Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein, HMRC advised that the UK is seeking to have a new, comprehensive EEA-EFTA wide agreement on social security coordination, including healthcare, in place this year.

Looking ahead to 2023

  • A new health and social care levy has been introduced at 1.25%.
  • As hybrid-working becomes the norm, this will have some tax implications, particularly for those looking to work abroad for periods of time.
  • There may be some tax efficient benefits coming into play to join those already in force, such as green benefits for electric vehicles etc.

Mobility Outlook Survey – Michael Joyce, AirInc

Remote Working

  • Lots of companies allow domestic remote working on a case-by-case basis (38%), but a higher percentage of companies do not allow international remote working (32%). This is primarily because companies are worried about tax liabilities for employees working from different countries (for example, creating permanent establishments).

Global Mobility’s role

  • Lessons from the pandemic are translating into Ukraine conflict management.
  • From the Outlook Survey, 40% of all surveyed believe mobility will be moderately involved with their organisations remote working policy.
  • The number of mobility policies continues to rise, from an average of 4.5 in 2017, up to an average of 6.5 in 2022. The rise of remote working is directly influencing the number of policies in place within a company, as is DE&I, Sustainability etc.
  • The previous trend to simplify programs and reduce the number of policies took a U-turn during Covid, which has now lead to the 44% increase over a 5-year period.
  • Across the board, companies are having conversations about whether permanent transfers are a better fit for long-term requirements. However, businesses acknowledge that assignments benefits may be required to attract employees for a permanent transfer – this will depend on how critical the talent is.
  • 45% of companies offer no benefits to remote workers, whereas others offer benefits such as ergonomic support (11%) or office equipment set-up (12%).

How the K2 Team handled crisis management in Ukraine 

Client communications (Marketing)

  • We kept our clients updated with service information, partner and location news during the crisis.
  • Regular communications were shared from day one of the invasion.
  • This kept streamlined communication between Account Managers and clients, and reduced workload for our team who previously provided individual updates.
  • This increased confidence in K2 and our partner network, leading to new business for some regions.

Emergency repatriation program (Relocation Managers)

  • In total, K2 moved 51 employees plus their families out of Ukraine and into emergency apartments in Krakow.
  • We worked with local partners to offer free language and cultural training for those entering new countries, to ensure they felt comfortable in their new setting.
  • Throughout the process, we faced challenges such as men suddenly being unable to leave the country, meaning K2 had to be flexible and adaptable with plans.

Moves out of Russia

  • Moves out of Russia are becoming extremely difficult. Processes such as sanction reports which now need to be completed for every move are leading to delays.
  • K2 are being transparent with assignees about challenges. We have adapted our processes to keep delays at a minimum, such as quoting for a move after packing to avoid a hold-up.
  • We are also working with local partners to avoid the process of notarisation of paperwork.

Next Steps…

Preparations are already underway for the next North-East Mobility forum, which will take place this Winter. If you are interested in attending, or would like further information on any of our other K2 events, please do reach out to

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