Part 1: Pre-assignment
1. Accompanying familyIs the relocating employee’s family accompanying them? It is reasonable to expect that an assignee may wish his or her family to accompany them, especially for a long-term assignment. It is usual for the employee's spouse or partner and dependents under a specified age (23-25 is common) to be covered by the support, providing they are accompanying the employee. If they are not accompanying the employee they would usually not be entitled to any support. Grandparents and live-in carers have accompanied assignees, though this has been due to specific, valid and reasonable grounds. Generally, this is something you should avoid unless necessary on compassionate grounds.
2. ImmigrationImmigration applications are often overlooked until it is too late. Since it is time-consuming and frustratingly complex, it is best not to let your employee handle their own immigration application. Incorrect immigration filing can unnecessarily delay the start of an assignment or cause complications further down the line. Work with a professional immigration company who will be able to give you advice along the way, and make the necessary visa and work permit applications. You may also want to consider whether the spouse or partner wishes to find employment in the host country and if a work permit will be needed.
3. MedicalSome countries will require a medical check as part of the immigration process. This is something that your immigration specialist will be able to advise on. Even if not required as part of the immigration application, consider carrying out a medical. You will want to ensure that your employee is in good health for his or her own and the company’s benefit. There are huge cost implications if you need to cancel an assignment due to unforeseen, under-stated or undeclared health concerns.
4. Pre-assignment visitAn orientation tour provides the assignee with an opportunity to visit the new area to see if they could happily live and work there. During the visit, the employee should receive an overview of suitable housing areas, typical accommodation, local amenities and services, including schools as appropriate. If there is a spouse or partner, they should go along, too.
5. Cultural awareness and language trainingStepping into a new culture can be challenging, especially if you don't speak the language, so offer this support to all family members. Even a move between the US and the UK can prove difficult - we speak (almost) the same language but the cultural differences are enormous.
In a study by CEMS, 48% of HR managers stated that understanding a new culture was a major challenge for their employees working abroad, followed by 24% citing culture shock and 16% language/communication issues. Providing this support before the assignment start will be of huge benefit to the employee and can significantly reduce the possibility of an expensive, failed assignment. Look out for our next article where we will look at the various services you could offer your employee as well as compensation and benefits arrangements.
Celsium Powered by Brunel is the global mobility division of Brunel, based in Birmingham, UK. Celsium Powerd by Brunel are experts in international relocation - permanent and assignments. If you would like assistance in any area of relocation policy, contact us for more information.