Category Archives: Immigration

Postings and discussions about immigration topics

Expatriate Assignment Checklist Part 2 – Assignment Planning

Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

This is the second part of a five-part series, where we present checklists to help international HR professionals plan and manage long-term international assignments. There are five stages we identified for long-term assignment management:

International Assignment Stages

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In part one of this series, we looked at candidate assessment, selection and approval. In this installment, we will examine Assignment Planning.

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10 Killer Reasons to Attend the North East Totally Expat Show

The International HR Forum is proud to be a Partner Organization for the upcoming North East Totally Expat Show on 3 April in New York.  The event is just three weeks away! It will be the largest global mobility event ever held in New York.  So, if you are in the New York Metro area, or if you are able to travel, register now!

Here are 10 killer reasons why you should register today: Continue reading

New York Totally Expat Show – April 3, 2012

Join us at the New York Totally Expat Show on 3 April

The Forum for Expatriate Management’s Totally Expat Show will be returning to New York on 3 April 2012. We will also be visiting Chicago for our Mid West Show on 1 June 2012.

  •  North East USA at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York on 3rd April 2012 – Register to Attend
  • Mid West USA at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago on 1st June 2012 – Register to Attend

The International HR Forum is a proud partner organization of The Forum for Expatriate Management, and Birches Group LLC will be attending the New York Totally Expat Show on 3 April 2012. Do come along and visit us. With over 500  attendees, this is likely to be the biggest Global Mobility event  ever held in New York.

These truly unique global mobility events will include a major exhibition with a large number of leading service providers and a rolling program of seminars (which will be certified by HRCI for GPHR credits).

Entry is entirely FREE for corporate HR professionals.  Just  Register to Attend!

Service Providers can attend for just $290 for FEM Members ($350 for non-Members). Just Register to Attend!

Topics to be covered are listed below.  For full descriptions of the topics, see the seminar program.   Additional speakers and topics will be announced shortly.

  • Meet the Experts – Global Immigration Compliance Trends
    Experts from Fragomen and other leading specialists
  • Latest Trends in Global Mobility Policy and Practices
    Debra Frost, Vice President, Client Services, Cartus
    William Sheridan, Vice President, National Foreign Trade Council
  • Business Process Automation in Global Mobility
    Mark Rabe, VP Business Development, Equus Software
  • US Reporting Requirements for Foreign Assets – What Global Mobility Managers need to know
    Beth Penfold and Katrina Haynes, Grant Thornton
  • An Overview for Companies new to Expatriation
    Pat Jurgens, Director of Tax for AIRINC
  • Emerging Trends in Global Mobility Transformation
    Glen Collins, Senior Manager, International Executive Services, KPMG
  •  Technology and Global Mobility – The Next Generation
    Frank Patitucci, CEO NuCompass Mobility
  • Strategic Intercultural Support: Insuring the ROI on the International Assignment
    Dean Foster, President and founder, DFA Intercultural Global Solutions
  • Is Cross Cultural Training really worth it?
    Diane McGreal, Director Berlitz Global Leadership Training, Americas Region
  •  Spousal assistance : overview of best practices based on a global sampling of 200 multinational corporations
    Alain Verstandig, President and Denise Michelle Starrett, Senior Consultant NET EXPAT Inc
  • Managing the Global Mobility Function
    Brian Friedman, Founder and CEO, Forum for Expatriate Management

Register to Attend!

 Just these Corporate Attendees

AIG * Amphenol TCS * Associated Press * AXA Equitable * Axiom Law * BNP Paribas * Boehringer Ingelheim * Bunge Limited * Citibank * Citicorp * Coach * Columbia University * Corning Incorporated * Covance Inc. * Criteo * D&B * Deloitte * Discovery Communications * Dragados USA * DSM Services USA * Fidessa corporation * Foot Locker Inc. * Harris * HSBC * IBM * ING Financial Services * Ingersoll Rand Company * JPMorgan Chase * KPMG LLP * Marsh & McLennan Companies * MetLife * Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP * Morgan Stanley * Nielsen * Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation * NYSE Euronext * NYU * PTC * Ralph Lauren * Resources Global Professionals * Sikorsky Aircraft Corporate * Sony Music Entertainment * Teach For All * Terex Corporation * The Hershey Company * The NPD Group Inc. * The Royal Bank of Scotland * Tiffany * Towers Watson * Toys’R’Us * UNDP * Unilever * United Technologies Corporation * White & Case LLP * William J. Clinton Foundation *

Avoiding Burnout in Global Field Service Travel

Alan Freeman – LOF International HR Solutions

The following question, recently posted to an online discussion group, caught my eye:

“Our international technical services business is booming.  Our Field Service Techs are getting burnt out spending 2-3 months away from home. How can I incentivize them to keep traveling? They already receive an attractive daily bonus for each day in travel.  Also, some of the new clients are in areas that are not very desirable.”

My dear old grandpa used to tell me, “Son, if you run your horses too hard and too long, especially over rocky ground, they’re going to fall in exhaustion or go lame.  No amount of extra oats will make any difference.”

So what’s the problem?


Notable drop-offs in productivity, poor morale, health problems and, ultimately, resignations (at least in normal economic times) go hand-in-glove with heavy travel-related burnout – especially international travel to “not very desirable areas”.  If high crime rates, existence of serious infectious diseases, lack of sanitation, political unrest or even outright violence are characteristic of those destinations, then the prospect of employees being harmed, kidnapped or killed becomes a significant concern as well.

An indirect, negative impact on morale and productivity also can stem from marital or family problems attributable to employees’ extended absence from their spouses, partners and families.  Heavy travel on the part of one parent puts additional stress on the stay-at-home partner to look after the children, elderly parents, pets, household maintenance, financial management, etc.  In our experience, Field Service employees often maintained their homes and vehicles themselves so the spouse had to hire outside providers to look after these issues while the employee was traveling.

Throwing money at employees won’t make them or their families less susceptible to burnout, but it could contribute to a company reputation for “slave driving” and failing to understand the human side of the travel sacrifice. This is not a desirable outcome for the company or the employee.

What might be useful?


A firm could consider providing extended paid leave, “R&R”, between trips. Take a lesson from oil & gas, engineering & construction and defense contracting firms and utilize the “rotational assignment” approach.  Simply put, for every x weeks or months the employee works on travel, he/she is eligible for y weeks or months off on paid leave at home or in a “nice” location at company expense.  For example, one of our clients provides services at a mining site in a developing country.  Their employees work 7 days a week for 3 months at a camp site and then are sent home for a month off with full pay.

I once worked on a project where, after the employee worked 1 month (single status) at a remote Middle Eastern camp site, the company would pay for the employee and family to rendezvous in a Western European city, all expenses paid up to a set maximum, for a week.  Expensive? Yes, certainly.  Did it “refresh the horses”, improve morale and productivity and build positive morale and attitude toward the company?  Absolutely!

Sometimes, depending upon the facts and circumstances, it’s possible to provide some form of relaxation in-country (health club memberships, a bit of time off to sight-see, company-paid recreation, etc.) during travel.  This is another way to give them a needed rest.

Another possibility would be to hire additional Field Service staff so more employees share the travel burden and thereby make it possible for each to spend a bit less time in the field.  Yes, in today’s economic environment of extreme cost control, adding to labor cost is not a popular idea in the CFO’s office.  But then, what about the cost of assignment refusal, turnover, reduced productivity, lost opportunity while employees miss work due to illness or injury, and inability to recruit high caliber talent, etc.?

We also must ask how challenging, especially dangerous, are the “not very desirable” areas?  Iraq? Afghanistan? Somalia?  A jungle infested with disease-bearing mosquitoes?  Make sure you provide appropriate pre-travel medical exams and immunizations, and adopt some of the safety and security practices companies used for longer-term international assignees in hardship and danger locations.  This includes local safety and security plans, well thought out and established emergency evacuation plans and ensuring that death and disability insurance benefits are not voided by “war risk waiver” clauses in the insurance contracts.  This latter issue can easily be addressed through contact riders but, if not addressed proactively, can lead to extensive financial pain for the employer, especially given laws pertaining to the “duty of reasonable care”.  Woe unto those companies that have not established the mechanisms to track their employees’ whereabouts and deal effectively and quickly with emergencies.  Check out Mariana’s posting for some tips on extreme hardship assignments.

Our friends at International SOS Assistance are about to publish a research paper on employers’ legal “duty of care” that our readers should find of interest.

Something the person who raised the question didn’t mention – but we will – are global requirements for work permits, visas and tax compliance.  Often, even those on relatively brief field support trips to other countries are deemed by local governments to be performing “productive work” in those countries.  This can, and often does, require a work permit.  A company is well advised to consult with appropriate immigration counsel to ensure that its employees have the proper clearance to carry out their duties in each country.  This is not about the amount of time the employee might spend working in country; it is all about what he/she will be doing while in country.

As to taxes, members of management have often heard about the so-called “183 day rule” and simplistically believe that so long as the employee works in a given country for less than 183 days, he/she will not be liable for local income or social insurance taxes in the assignment country.  This is not necessarily the case and depends upon a number of key factors.  We recommend reading our contributing editor Claudia Howe’s excellent commentary on this issue.

So, at the end of the day, how do we respond to the question of “How do we incentivize our staff to keep traveling”?  We’d say, give your horses rest, treat them with dignity, recognize that their families bear a burden too, and provide them with fresh oats.

Otherwise, my dear old grandfather just might come back to haunt you!

About Alan


Alan on LinkedIn

Resourcing in Southern Africa

Imported Photos 00033Author:
Yendor Felgate – Emergence Consulting

Recessionary times have dramatically impacted the volume and level of resourcing opportunities available in Southern Africa.  Anecdotal evidence from resourcing companies we engage with or have trained over the last 6 months, suggest that in the first half of this year we have seen vacancy levels oscillate between 30 – 60% less vacancies.

The impact in Southern Africa has been uneven, with the obvious exceptions being Angola and Mozambique, where local environments and skills shortages continue to fuel resourcing opportunities.  The relatively small markets of Namibia, Zambia and Botswana have slowed, with a number of companies placing moratoriums on new or replacement hires. These markets are highly susceptible to any slowdown in the worldwide demand for commodities, even impacting governments, who tend to be the largest employers.

South Africa is by far the largest resourcing market in the region and has been similarly impacted.  The knock on of the slowdown in the region has led to increased Southern African applicants applying for South African jobs.  In turn South African companies increasingly look to apply job moratoriums in the work place, with an overt South African first policy. When speaking to companies, many are literally ‘holding on’, using natural attrition to right size their businesses.  Our sense is that this can only go so far, and that we will see a range of corporate restructuring in the South African market in the last of half of this year, despite the perceived upside of hosting the World Cup next year.  Such a dramatic market change has impacted applicants and recruitment companies alike.

Firstly this has slowed down the use of non-South Africans in the South African market, which is a big blow to encouraging Southern Africa as a region, to utilise skills co-operatively.  Our view is that companies and recruitment agencies continue to miss significant upside opportunities in the hiring of African talent, both in terms of pricing and value add.

Secondly, the South African recruitment market will go through a significant restructuring of the players offering recruitment services.  The larger companies will consolidate during this period, with some of the more adventurous ones looking to expand in the region.  Small to medium companies are under pressure, with some already closing.  In order to survive, these entities will increasingly need to come up with different customer propositions or products.

We see the market differentiating between low cost producers and the higher end players, who increasingly operate in a more consulting role, with a wider range of products or services.  This period will be very difficult for ‘traditional’ players, who want to simply ride out the storm, as margins will reduce in tandem with the recession.  This will be exacerbated by the trend of companies accessing candidate databases directly and using social networks in lieu of recruitment agencies.

The third impact will be an escalation of tension between stakeholders around what it means to employ people.  Governments will look to protect full time employment, whilst the market will intensify their search for labour flexibility.  This tension has already erupted in Namibia, with the recent banning of labour broking and the South African government is also looking to do the same.

This brings us back to the question of where next for commercial recruitment.  We have a two scenario view.  The first or low road suggests that recruitment becomes unattractive as a commercial venture with the banning of labour broking and the commoditisation of recruitment.

The second scenario is hardly a high road, but one that will benefit those recruitment companies that look to diversity their services and become low cost producers when mining their candidate IP.  This implies a significant change in current recruitment approaches, pricing and funding models.

In the short term, our sense is that a complex combination of the two is occurring currently.  None of the above in our mind necessarily benefits applicants and we think that recruitment professionalism will be increasingly under pressure.

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