Today, we don’t have to look too far for reminders of the compliance risks that come with managing a global workforce or the increased aggressiveness of governments and taxing authorities when it comes to matters of compliance. The evening news is rife with stories of multinational companies being hit with a broad range of penalties for everything from employees under-reporting income to holding improper visas. Such risks are compounded when it comes to extended business travelers, short term assignees and commuters.
As the pace of business accelerates, more companies are relying on extended business travelers, or “EBTs”, to complete a wide range of projects, from expanding into new markets to training global staff. Although these companies feel EBTs allow them more nimble deployment of talent than “traditional” relocations and assignments, most fail to grasp their serious risks and implications.
This is unfortunate and ultimately dangerous, because as tax, immigration and payroll regulations become more complex, revenue-strapped, tech-enabled authorities are getting better at tracking violations, and punishments for non-compliance have escalated from simple fines to million dollar penalties and, in some cases, jail time. While Travel, Security, Tax, Payroll and Global Mobility often work together to manage EBTs, when trouble arises, the buck typically stops at Mobility’s door.
This requires a well thought-out, collaborative approach to managing the EBT demographic within your mobile workforce. And during a recent client educational summit in Clearwater, Florida, I partnered with Liam Brennan, VP of Going There and architect of the tracking solution we use to power the Weichert Global Organizer (WeGo), to workshop this issue.
Studying four approaches, from low-tech manual reports to a fully mobile tracking and monitoring system, we identified best practices for building a business case to manage EBTs. These included:
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Identify your key stakeholders (travel, security, tax, legal, global mobility)
Quantify the scale and downstream impact (identify data sources i.e., travel partners, immigration reports)
Run the data through the Weichert Global Organizer to audit the information and identify your risks
Meet with leadership to determine risk tolerance
Evaluate options for managing and monitoring EBTs
Present your recommendations and implement the solutions
Our 2018 survey on extended business travelers revealed that less than half of the participating companies had a formal approach to managing EBTs, so mobility departments are likely only identifying these employees through travel reports or when business units contact them for assistance. Although most companies agree that the successful management of EBTs requires careful collaboration between a number of departments, including tax, payroll, and the requesting business unit, they haven’t found a way to make it work.
Concerned about exposure across your own EBT population? Need best practices for managing your program? Email us for a copy of our informative EBT Survey–your blueprint for compliance!