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The last in our 2022 UK-based Autumn events series, K2 recently held the North-East Mobility Forum in central Newcastle.

Taking place bi-yearly, the forum brings together global mobility and HR professionals from around the North-East of England for a day of interactive workshops, group discussions, and networking. 

Led by our team of NEMF organisers, including Executive Business Director, Richard Rutledge, Business Development Manager, Huw Thomas, and Marketing Executive, Emma Kerslake, the all-day event covered key topics around Diversity and Inclusion, the impact of a post-pandemic world on global mobility, and important tax and social security updates. 

Commenting on the forum, Business Development Manager, Huw Thomas, states: 

“It was great to see so many returning forum members at the event, as well as welcoming some new faces. This is our 7th North-East based forum, and as always, the event provided key insights into the current, complex issues surrounding global mobility.  

We’ve built a strong network of mobility and HR professionals around the area, and would encourage those interested in attending to get in touch early to secure a spot for the upcoming 2023 Spring event.” 

Below, you can find key insights from the event… 

Key takeaways 

Global Mobility case studies with AirInc 

As a result of the covid-19 pandemic, global mobility is changing. Structures which have been in place for the past 10 to 15 years are now adapting and moving towards a new model.  

  • We’ve seen the introduction and increase of virtual assignments, work from home placements, remote working, and work from anywhere policies. 
  • One way transfer assignments have seen the biggest growth over the past two years. 

This brings with it new challenges. With an increase in remote working and ‘work from anywhere’ policies, we must consider tax and visa implications. Commuter assignments are also under more scrutiny than ever as companies place a keener focus on sustainability, with high travel rates impacting a company’s carbon footprint. 

Compensation approach

This is an important factor for tax when considering those on assignment. Certain locations have lower tax brackets, meaning that if an assignee remains on a home salary, they may receive a higher overall pay; this then makes higher tax bracket locations less appealing for assignments. Companies must be consistent across all employees with their approach to this. 

There are four main approaches to salary and tax considerations in mobility policies: 

  • HQ: HQ salary, plus assignment benefits for international assignees – top-level organisations often follow this approach. 
  • Home: employee keeps home salary and taxes, and is provided with housing, leave and education assistance.  
  • International: unique salary structure for all mobile staff and blended tax rate – often used for highly mobile nomads. 
  • Host: employee placed on host salary and taxes, no cost-of-living allowance, but can include benefits such as housing and education – common for high-affinity transfers. 

Mobility case studies – exploring complex moves

Case study 1:

A proposed move from London, UK to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Employee has a same-sex partner and one child. They are a strategic leader of a business unit, and the project is expected to last for three years. 

Considerations from the audience: 

  • Questions and concerns raised around legality because of the location – will the couple be granted a visa for entry as they are a same sex couple?  
  • Can the individual work remotely and be instead placed on Saudi-working hours? 
  • Can we explore a split family arrangement (family remains at home) with additional home stay benefits – individual visits the family at home at least once a month? 
  • Due to the complexity of the location and personal circumstances, is there another individual who may suit the assignment better – whose call is this to make? 

Case study 2:

A proposed move from Mumbai, India to Geneva, Switzerland. The employee has a spouse, two children aged 10 and 14, and elderly parents living with them. The employee holds critical technical skills needed for the project, which is expected to last for three years. 

Considerations from the audience: 

  • Are the parents both dependants? If so, we may need to explore implementing additional support (e.g., care workers) for them at home. 
  • Children will also be returning from assignment during critical schooling years, so an education plan must be put into place to avoid disruption. 
  • Taxing brackets for both locations are different, so which pay model will the employee be held on – salary will need to be adjusted to match the tax bracket of Switzerland. 
  • Will additional allowances be provided as the assignee is moving to a location with a particularly high cost of living? 

Case study 3:

A proposed move from Paris, France to Frankfurt, Germany. The employee is a single parent and has one child aged three with special needs. The employee is high potential; the assignment is developmental and is expected to last for two years.  

Considerations from the audience: 

  • Conversations would need to be had with the employee around support needed for the child – specialist schools or childcare will need to be found at the new location. 
  • Will the needs of the child be met by sending the parent on location, and will a routine be able to be formed for the child? 
  • Due to the two locations proximity, could this be a virtual assignment with regular business trips to Frankfurt? Visa implications will be minimal here. 


Global Mobility tax services with Grant Thornton 

Pre-pandemic vs post-pandemic

Pre-pandemic policies:  

  • Mobility models used to be fairly straightforward from a tax perspective, split between traditional mobility and business travel. 
  • Packages are no longer as generous as they used to be. 

Post-pandemic policies:  

  • Mobility models are changing in a post-pandemic world, and we have seen a reduction in assignments as many of these are now taking place virtually. 
  • We have seen an increase in remote working, hybrid working and outsourced resourcing.  

 Social security 

  • Post-covid rules still need to catch up with social security – rules remain unclear in some areas. 
  • Those undergoing short term postings can apply to remain within their home country social security system, but this becomes complex with individuals choosing to ‘work away from home’ as these no longer classify as a posting. 
  • To classify as a ‘posting’ under social security, this must be for a maximum of two years. For UK-based individuals, they can apply for a multi-state, but this means they must work from the UK for 25% of their time.  

HMRC Expatriate Forum

Important updates: 

  • Tax is becoming digital – eventually all businesses and those self-employed will become paperless. 
  • Expatriates may begin receiving nudge letters from HMRC – these can be a little unsettling but are just part of the process. 
  • There is in internal debate at HMRC on the apportionment of National Insurances of bonus, essentially should NI follow tax rules for bonuses? Currently, there is no published guidance on this. 


Diversity and Inclusion at Cundall 

“Gender and ethnicity diversity relate directly to company profitability”

According to 2019 research by McKinsey into 1000 large employers across 15 countries: companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in leadership were 25% more likely to achieve above average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.  

Incorporating D&I at Cundall

As part of the D&I strategy at Cundall, a global survey is released every 2 years to determine perceptions and experiences around diversity and inclusion within the company. Results are then compared between each survey to determine progress and are then used to build the upcoming years’ D&I strategy. 

Within the D&I survey, a statement is made, and each employee must answer whether they strongly agree, disagree, or feel neutral. 

 Key findings: 

  • There are clear differences in the ways in which different genders and regions view D&I within the company. 
  • Since January 2020, the percentage of women taking on management roles within the company is on the increase. 
  • Since 2019, responses are 8% more positive across the survey – employees are seeing an increase in awareness and action across D&I. 

Audience discussion: have any D&I strategies within your company been met with hostility? 

  • The use of pronouns within email signatures is a big talking point – should this be mandated, or should we allow employees to choose? 
  • Regionally, mandating the use of pronouns can be difficult, so this needs to be down to an individual to choose if they are comfortable to share their pronoun preference.  

Ways in which Cundall are incorporating D&I

  • Inclusion collection: Cundall place books around diversity and inclusion in communal areas for employees to take to encourage education around this topic. 
  • Content sharing: Cundall also put a focus on sharing D&I focused content on their social channels to highlight importance of this within their company culture. 
  • Affinity networks: Cundall have four networks (Kaleidoscope, Mosaic, GAIN and Divergent) which are employee-run networks focusing on different areas of D&I. These networks ensure that voices are championed by senior leadership teams. 

Inclusive Leadership Advocacy Programme

  • Cundall have a 12-month programme in place for some of their leadership team to meet on a monthly basis.  
  • The purpose of the programme is for leaders to self-reflect on their own communication style, allowing them to engage with others in crucial discussions around D&I and learn how to best implement this within their own teams.  
  • The programme also connects the leadership team with the internal affinity networks, allowing to leverage their own power to advocate change within the company. 

For more information relating to the topics covered by AirInc, Grant Thornton, or Cundall, please reach out to our events team for the full slide deck: 


A journey of loss and growth from the Matt Hampson Foundation 

To close the forum, our attendees heard the inspiring story of Sophie Wilson, a beneficiary and employee of the Matt Hampson Foundation, who suffered a life-changing spinal injury whilst travelling around Thailand. Previously being an active young woman in her twenties, the injury damaged Sophie’s spine so severely that she was left unable to walk. During the event, Sophie shared her personal story of determination and bravery, working to reframe her perspective on life, and eventually leading her to help others in need.  

Throughout her journey, Sophie has been supported by the Matt Hampson Foundation, a rehabilitation centre for individuals suffering life changing injuries. Led by the motto “get busy living” which was coined by the charity’s founder, Matt Hampson, to date, the foundation has helped support over 1000 individuals like Sophie to regain their purpose in life and rebuild their self-esteem. 

“For the first time in two years, I felt the wind in my hair through force of exercise”  

If you would like to learn more about the Matt Hampson Foundation and how you can support the charity, please visit their website here. 

What is next for the North-East Mobility Forum? 

Our NEMF organisers are already in the process of arranging the next forum to take place in Spring 2023. If you are interested in attending, or would like to learn more about our worldwide series of global mobility events, please reach out to our events team: