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Long-term WFH - moving abroad

(59 Posts)
roses2 Sat 29-Aug-20 08:13:58

Those of you who are working from home long term and will continue to do so - I would be interested in your views on wfh for a UK company and moving abroad.

My company have advised from next year we will me home based 70% and in the office a handful of days per month. This opens up a whole world of opportunity on where to live. Some of our team now live a 5 hour commute away from the office (although still in the uk).

Has anyone broached the subject of moving abroad whilst remainimg a uk employee? Assuming you can meet the uk residency rules of x many days in the UK and a uk address - does your company allow this? If yes or no would you mind feedback on their reasons?

OP’s posts: |
Tootletum Sat 29-Aug-20 08:17:15

It's not the UK residency rules you need to worry about, but the country you're going to. Article on the BBC recently pointed out most countries will start asking for tax payment after three months and some won't recognise any reciprocal tax arrangement I. E. The taxes you pay in the UK. And leaving the EU mean la the previous rules are not valid and you have no automatic right to live in any EU country..

ZeldaSmelda Sat 29-Aug-20 08:20:23

Someone I used to work with (at a local authority in the housing section) lived abroad. She used to come back for a week every couple of months to spend time in the office. I don’t know about tax etc but I know she got given a lot of the rubbish work which she felt she couldn’t really complain about due to the opportunity of living abroad/wfh. Seemed to work out ok for her though, she was only a 45 minute flight away though so cheap flights home and could get back on a days notice really If needed although that never happened as it wasn’t that kind of job

PotteringAlong Sat 29-Aug-20 08:23:28

You’ve got 2 issues :

1) will you get hammered with tax?
2) what happens if this carries on long term and you cannot fulfil your days in the office because of closed boarders / quarantine

PeaceAndHarmoneeee Sat 29-Aug-20 08:24:36

I work in HR and several staff have asked to do this. Our tax team have advised not to agree to it due to the (complex and costly) impact on tax and social security liabilities for both the business and the employee themselves.

Hardbackwriter Sat 29-Aug-20 08:28:22

Two things:

a) have you got a written contract telling you that you will be WFH 70% and this is your established pattern of work that would require a contractual change to rescind?
b) have you been told what that pattern of 'a few days' (a bit more than one a week?) will be? Will it be a block or scattered through the month? Will you be allowed to choose the days or will they be chosen for you? Would you be expected to change them if a particular event, big team meeting etc was happening on what should be your WFH day?

Unless the answer to question a is yes and you know all the answers to question b do not make major life choices yet. You will end up completely screwed over if this doesn't turn out to be all that you expect. I would do the new pattern for a year and then see how viable moving abroad, or to the other end of the UK, seems. If you're completely picking and choosing when to be in the office then it seems pretty doable but if (as seems more likely for most people) you might be expected to come in at shortish notice, or multiple times in one week but not in a block, or just generally to suit other people rather than just you then you've trapped yourself in a difficult and potentially really expensive situation.

vinoandbrie Sat 29-Aug-20 08:30:49

Not only tax, you also need to consider social security (NIC in the U.K., generally called social security elsewhere). Which country will you be liable to pay in? If there is tax / social security due in the country you plan to go to, the company may be required by the laws of that country to set up a payroll for you in that country and pay you via that. Would they be willing to do so? You would need to file tax returns in both countries, and claim foreign tax credits / treaty exemption as required, would you be confident in doing this? You would need to be careful not to be paying either tax or social security in both, which would lead to potential cash flow issues for you.

Also, do consider immigration factors - do you have / would you need a work visa to work in the country you plan to go to?

In short, would your company be willing to support you in terms of the tax, social security and immigration requirements this move would bring?

Ifailed Sat 29-Aug-20 08:31:29

What happens if you lose your job?

Oct18mummy Sat 29-Aug-20 08:34:00

As above look into your tax situation

Your employment contract will state it’s a UK contract so they have the right to say they will not pay any additional costs/taxes for you being in another country and can ask you to return or terminate contract

Brexit: are you a UK citizen as a number of people at my company have moved back to home countries and don’t have settled status so might risk not being able to stay here post brexit

Mumdiva99 Sat 29-Aug-20 08:35:12

Years ago my boss moved to France with his wife and did this. It worked for him. It didn't work for us. He wasn't available when we needed him. Part of a boss's role (in this case and many) was to mentor junior employees. That was hard to do remotely and he was never available when there was a crisis. If he'd been in the UK he could have popped in the next day to help out/sort out what is needed. This role of mentoring, guiding and role modelling is often forgotten when remote working is discussed.

CatToddlerUprising Sat 29-Aug-20 08:43:09

If it’s only 70% WFH, That’s still about 70 days you’ll be expected in the office.

dogdaysofsummer Sat 29-Aug-20 08:48:47

To add to this, it will also be a major consideration for your employer who risk being seen to have a business presence in the country you move to, and so having to pay corporate tax and comply with other obligations

roses2 Sat 29-Aug-20 09:16:37

All very good points for me to consider. I plan to be in the UK every month on my office days. Due to one office lease being relinquished we now have to book in advance our desk days so last minute meetings in the office are unlikely. I will spend (at a minimum) the required number of days to remain a UK resident.

What I'm interested in is advice from people who have asked to do this and what the employer feedback was.

OP’s posts: |
vinoandbrie Sat 29-Aug-20 09:22:06

Even if you remain a UK tax resident, you can still be a tax resident elsewhere as well. The rules for being resident for NIC purposes are different to those from tax.

If you were my employee the advice would be ‘this is opening up the company to risk from a corporate tax perspective, and an employee withholding perspective, to say nothing of setting a precedent for other staff. We will not support it.’

Aquicknamechange2019 Sat 29-Aug-20 09:46:32

Even if you remain uk resident you're likely to also be resident in the other country - where are you thinking of moving to?

We have had a number of employees ask to do this and we have refused their requests because it creates complexity for the company that quite frankly we don't need.

CatToddlerUprising Sat 29-Aug-20 10:20:30

This arrivals explains it quite well-

CatToddlerUprising Sat 29-Aug-20 10:23:02

And this one-

roses2 Sat 29-Aug-20 11:12:10

Thanks all - really useful advice especially the links to read.

The country is Cyprus in case that makes any difference. Moving has been on the cards for two years now so we were always going to move (DH home country; he has a senior job there and for the past 4 years he has split each month 60/40 his country and UK where me and the kids are).

Covid has brought about home working so I was planning to do my boss if it is an option which I'll still do however I'll be well prepared for him to say no.

OP’s posts: |
Kaiserin Sat 29-Aug-20 11:46:16

Tax is a concern, technically to you will most probably become a Cyprus resident for tax purposes, you are likely to need a new work contract.
In term if admin, it may be easier for your employer to (re)hire you as a self-employed contractor, then sorting out your own taxes becomes your problem, not theirs.

If I were in your shoes, I'd worry about the impact of Brexit, and I'd move before the end if the year, to benefit from Settled Status (in particilar, there's special clauses re: people who work "cross border", it may apply to you)

Since your DH is from Cyprus, your immigration status shouldn't be too hard to sort, but make sure you apply for the correct work visa, and that things like access to health care is properly sorted (note: technically, you would no longer be entitled to NHS treatment, as you would no longer be ordinarily residential in the UK)

Kaiserin Sat 29-Aug-20 11:46:59

"ordinarily resident"

Meme69 Sat 29-Aug-20 11:54:53

Our organisation do not allow it as you are not allowed to access servers abroad. It opens up a huge security risk for them as other countries don't have the same protections we do. Also if you process data that is a nightmare with GDRP and processing abroad as far as I know (which isn't a lot)

nosswith Sat 29-Aug-20 16:09:07

It has been ruled out even during the pandemic where I work.

I'd be concerned at something stopping you travelling either to the office or back to Cyprus. The volcano of a few years ago comes to mind, and if we had a competent government in the UK there would have been quarantine restrictions from March here.

PurBal Sat 29-Aug-20 16:15:34

I won't write paragraphs and paragraphs. But as PP have mentioned: tax. Not just the UK but wherever you move to. And residency laws. I used to live and work abroad and it was bad enough having to work out my student loan repayment. US colleagues were liable for tax in two countries. Father accidentally ended up with a bigger tax bill than expected due to residency laws. Bear in mine that myself and these people mentioned have the support of their employers. Just, lots of work.

Ohthatsgreat Sat 29-Aug-20 16:31:42


Our organisation do not allow it as you are not allowed to access servers abroad. It opens up a huge security risk for them as other countries don't have the same protections we do. Also if you process data that is a nightmare with GDRP and processing abroad as far as I know (which isn't a lot)

This is a hugely important point, depending on the work you do and sector you are in. It may not be permissible to take company and customer data outside the U.K. just because you want to live elsewhere unfortunately.

ErrolTheDragon Sat 29-Aug-20 16:31:45

I moved abroad when my DH was seconded, my company kept me on WFH there, but as a US employee (it was a US company). So I was paying US tax, and it was only really possible because I have a PhD so could get a H1 visa.

It does seem like it shouldn't matter where you live nowadays, but unfortunately tax, work visas etc are still a reality.

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