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On Thursday 12th November, K2 participated in a virtual meeting with the North East Mobility Forum (NEMF). Traditionally, the NEMF would meet in person, however given the current lock down and covid-19 restrictions the group met virtually.

The session included a mix of presentations from subject experts, group discussion and interactive activities. The session was designed to encourage interaction and engagement, and everyone therefore kept their webcams on to emulate the feeling of all being present and connected, despite being situated all over the UK.

The session was facilitated by Huw Thomas, UK Business Development Manager and Richard Rutledge, Executive Business Director, and was supported by Deborah Murphy, Advisory Services Consultant.

Huw welcomed the group and introduced the session and the panellists; Simon Higson, UK Immigration Manager, Davyd Fisher, Director, Grant Thornton,  Johannes De Kam, Doctoral Researcher and Lecturer at University of Warwick and Michael Joyce, Senior Director, AIRINC. Richard then gave a topical update from K2, addressing the current landscape that we find ourselves in, and touched upon how K2 plan to move forwards into 2021, highlighting some key updates and future plans.

Simon Higson, UK Immigration Manager at K2, kicked off the presentation aspect of the session by giving the group an update on UK Immigration, with a specific focus on covid-19 and Brexit. Simon drew everyone’s attention to the changes in UK Immigration that have been, and will be affecting global mobility. The group first heard updates regarding Brexit (Sponsorship Licence, New Points Based System and more), and then Simon delved into the multitude of implications we are experiencing due to covid-19. Simon highlighted how there have been a number of rules and regulations that have been relaxed due to covid-19, yet warned everyone to be cautious of the significant delays with regards to application processes, and the consequences of such delays that might be expected. Simon then concluded his presentation by relaying the key dates for everyone to be aware of, and subsequently opened the floor up to discussion and questions.

The group then divulged in a fantastic conversation around the intricacies of UK Immigration, and collectively shared examples of challenges and experiences that they have had/ or are currently having, regarding all of the updates that are going on due to covid-19 and Brexit, with regards to UK immigration. One key theme that was explored, was the difficulty to plan and predict EU staff, and therefore foresee the cost implications for the business. The group then shared ideas of how to approach such concerns, with the support from Simon.

Next on the agenda to present, was Davyd Fisher, Director at Grant Thornton, who has participated in previous meetings with the NEMF. Davyd began by outlining the impacts of covid-19 that we have experienced throughout the industry (reduced travel, increased home working etc) and explored how such changes also have impacts on tax and social security. Davyd illustrated how having an increased number of individuals working in jurisdictions where they are not employed, this raises a number of risks for both the employer, and the employee (for example the issue of indirect taxes, permanent establishment implications, employer obligations, and more). Davyd explained that although we experienced global relaxation in March from authorities, now we are eight/nine months later, authorities are starting to be less forgiving.

The group then worked with Davyd to explore different approaches taken to individuals who wish to work remotely in a country that is different to their country of employment. I.e. are companies accommodating working remotely, abroad? The group also discussed how they are monitoring where employees are working and noted that this time has highlighted that there are many gaps in their knowledge when it comes to tracking employees’ locations.

Davyd then moved on to discuss the technical positions and implications of social security and residency, when individuals are not working in the country, they are employed to work in. Davyd noted the intricacies that can occur in these situations, and also highlighted how legislation has not yet caught up and is not yet perfect in dealing with such situations.

Finally, Davyd highlighted some key case study examples, which helped to illustrate some of the distinctions involved with tax and social security during this unprecedented time. The group then openly discussed some examples and experiences with such situations and liaised with Davyd about approaches and potential concessions.

The group then welcomed Johannes De Kam, Doctoral Researcher and Lecturer at University of Warwick, who took a step back from discussing covid-19 in practice, and worked with the group to reflect on the pandemic, and considered the learnings that could be taken from the group’s experiences.

Johannes described the pandemic as a transboundary crisis and explored the dynamics of the months we have experienced in global mobility. The group considered some key reflections on the past year, and looked at what we have learnt, which stakeholders have been involved and where the sources of information and knowledge have derived from. Johannes also illustrated how the crisis has led to creative initiatives, as previous solutions that we are familiar with, are often insufficient in today’s landscape, so we are therefore forced to be flexible and rework our strategies and global mobility approach.

Johannes then showed the group different ways that we can learn from a crisis. Johannes helped the group to learn through reflective practice, and the group discussed different considerations that have been learnt from their experience with covid-19. Notably, Johannes highlighted that we could learn from a crisis, but also during a crisis.

Johannes coordinated an interactive activity, which allowed the group to practically explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges that they have faced when conducting their global mobility plans during this turbulent time. This activity provided a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect on their response and approach and share ideas and experiences. Johannes provided a virtual flip chart – which allowed everyone to write their thoughts and share ideas, and from this the group engaged in an in-depth conversation where key ideas and considerations were discussed.

Lastly the group heard from Michael Joyce, Senior Director at AIRINC. Michael highlighted some key trends that have been experienced within the global mobility industry during this time. To start, Michael explained how reducing cost has become a top priority for many businesses, given the current economic landscape. Many companies are struggling to meet their expected business growth, and therefore, flexibility and versatility are being prioritised in order to keep business going. Michael explored what ‘flexibility’ in practice means for both the employer, and the assignee, and questioned where businesses may be able to show some flexibility compared to areas which they are unable to be flexible on.

Michael then discussed what mobility may look like moving forwards. As more and more individuals are working remotely, this has led to people not only working from home, but working remotely, anywhere in the world. As Davyd touched upon earlier in the session, this form of working can lead to a multitude of impacts (such as tax, immigration, income), and then there are specific scenarios that employers may favour exceptions for (i.e. for the requests of a key talent), but how does this reflect for the rest of the business?

Michael gave some interesting examples, which illustrated some of the nuances that we can expect with remote working scenarios. Michael highlighted that many companies are considering accommodating for a increasingly globally distributed workforce, albeit having to battle with being compliant. Michael helped the group to differentiate the complexities involved with working from home, working from anywhere and virtual assignments, and evaluate how this will inevitably have impacts on the way we work and the way we interact with one another moving forwards.

The session concluded with some final comments from the group and a recap of key points learnt from throughout the session.

It was great to meet with the NEMF, and hopefully we will be able to have another session soon, either in person or virtually.

Read more about the NEMF or to join the network please email

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