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Advice on moving abroad for work

(66 Posts)
Mummy578485 Mon 13-May-19 23:55:35

I've asked for a temporary transfer to one of our offices abroad which had been agreed. It involves a promotion and a moderate salary increase. The renumeration package includes flights and sending belongings.

We're at the stage now of drawing up the final contract. I'm going to make I sure I have continuity of service and health care and I was wondering if there's anything else I could be asking or checking in my contact? As the transfer is my request I probably don't have a huge amount of leverage (I already negotiated the higher salary), but my managers are very reasonable.

HollowTalk Mon 13-May-19 23:57:55

Ooh where are you going to?

ElGuardiandenoche Tue 14-May-19 00:07:22

Which country are you going to? Who will be paying for your houseing? How long are you going to be abroad? Will they pay for a return trip to the uk each year? Are they paying for your repatriation when the contract abroad ends?

MarieToulouseBerlioz Tue 14-May-19 00:09:35

Watching with interest as I would love to do this. I hope it all goes well for you!

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 08:44:12

Going for 3 years.
I'm paying for housing.
They will pay for work related trips back but this is unlikely - we'll probably pay for a holiday back to the UK at least once.
They will pay for flights back.

Hmmm... anything else?

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 08:44:57

*flights back when I return I mean.

lovelyupnorth Tue 14-May-19 08:46:43

Will the salary increase mean you can afford to live in Singapore.

When ever my dad worked overseas. Accommodation and trips back where always paid for by the companies. Also covered school fees.

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 09:03:37

The salary increase helps, but rent is high so things will be tighter there compared to the UK.

I'm not expecting my company to pay for accommodation or schools - I'm not such an important person and my presence there is probably more helpful than a necessity. Plus there are plenty of single people they could offer the job to. Hence lack of leverage!

flowery Tue 14-May-19 09:13:57

What guarantees do you have in respect of a suitable job being available for you in the UK at the end of the three years?

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 09:24:35

Tax implications? Is your salary going to be paid in the UK to your UK bank AC, or SGD in to your SGD ac? Will you meet the criteria of being out of the UK for enough working days to not be eligible for UK income tax? Will your Singapore income tax be deducted at source or will you have to keep a record of what you owe and pay it directly to the Singapore government. If you’re not paying UK income tax are you going to be better off paying your UK National Insurance contributions anyway to ensure your NI covers a UK pension in future? Etc

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 10:12:58

Also a VERY important consideration, is the contract a YK based contract under which you will be seconded to Singapore from the UK office or will it be a local Singapore based contract? Because if it’s the latter you will be treated like a local for tax purposes and you will not only have to pay the (approx) 25% tax but also the Singapore equivalent of National Insurance (the ‘community fund,forget what it’s called) which is 20% IE your total deduction would be 45% of salary.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 10:15:36

Sorry, that should be ‘might’ have to pay rather than ‘will’ have to pay......

SplashPad Tue 14-May-19 10:18:56

Yes, you definitely want something written into your contract that upon completion of your time in Singapore that you will be able to return to a similar role in the UK with an equal or higher salary. When we moved we also got an allowance for replacing all our electrical items.

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 10:21:56


Thanks for your feedback. What is YK?

As far as I understand I will be paid in SGD into a Singapore account. I assumed I would pay Singapore tax, I did not know about the community fund. This would make things very difficult.

Are there any advantages/disadvantages to being seconded as opposed to working a local?

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 10:30:37

Also are there any employment or working abroad forums that anyone could recommend where I could ask similar questions?

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 10:40:44

Ok a quick Google refers to a central provident fund that covers citizens and permanent residents, not foreign employees who are temporary residents. I am working on an Employment Pass so I presume this fund will not apply to me. I am trying to sort out local medical cover with my company.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 10:44:37

YK typo, should be UK blush. You will have to get advice from your Singapore office (or a foreign tax expert) as to whether you would be liable for the community fund payment, not something you want to discover too late. I can’t quite remember but think when DH worked there (about four years ago) we weren’t liable because he was still employed by the UK office and was just seconded there. We got expert tax advice before we went to make sure we were covering our UK and Singapore liabilities etc so we didn’t get any nasty surprises.

chuntersalot Tue 14-May-19 11:04:09

Could you ask for an accommodation allowance? Not quite token but below actual cost? This would still represent a 'saving' for your company if the alternative would have been to place/ send someone who would have claimed full allowances.

Weigh up whether you think they will withdraw the offer because you asked or not. IMO not many places would withdraw an offer based on this but you know your company best of course. If you believe they would not withdraw the offer then the worst that could happen if you ask is that they say no.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 11:05:01

Ok Employment Pass should mean you avoid some of the more onerous aspects. One other thing, will you be traveling outside of Singapore for work? If so and more than a certain number of days you might be eligible for NotOrdinarilyResident status which will affect your tax bill (favourably).

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 11:16:37

Thinking back, I’m remembering more stuff....
will you have expenses to cover back in the UK like a UK mortgage etc that you will need to pay in GBP? If so you need to think about the exchange rate risk , though of course sometimes it will be in your favour but maybe not always, so you would have to mitigate for that. We had salary pid in GBP, didn’t matter to Singapore authorities because we declared everything and they worked out tax accordingly. However we had a lot more stuff paid for by the company in the contract so had SGD paid too for living expenses etc. Something to consider if you’re going to need GBP back in a UK ac.

ApricotExpat Tue 14-May-19 11:20:56

If you're children are school age then you would definitely need school fees covered - even the deposits are chunky. It's expensive.

Definitely do it - a great experience, but unless you have your contract sorted out, you'll come back considerably worse off...

mateysmum Tue 14-May-19 11:23:09

Singapore is a pretty expensive place to live. You need to really understand ALL the additional costs. I've not lived in Singapore but have done other international moves and the on costs are significant.
If you are having to pay school fees for a British Curriculum school, that can be extremely expensive.
Utilities can be a huge cost especially if you need to run aircon in the summer - which I guess you would.
Cars - if you need to sell here and buy in Singapore that again is a significant expense.
Are you taking your furniture? Even if yes or you plan to rent furniture there will always be things you need to buy. It all adds up.
Flights - I think you will want to come home or travel in the region at least once a year.
Cost of living generally - expensive in Singapore
Visas etc. Will your employer facilitate and cover all bureaucratic costs for the whole family?
Are you moving alone? If not will your partner be able to find employment?

There are lots of expat forums out there that should be able to cover all the above and more. I just know from experience that expat life is great if you can afford it and have a supportive employer and can be bloody miserable if not.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 11:31:54

They will pay for work related trips back but this is unlikely
This bit is really, really important. If there’s any possibility whatsoever of you being required to come back to the UK to work you need to know in advance and have it strictly controlled in your contract. If you’re in Singapore for a year and then your company say ‘we need you back to work here for a month (in any tax period) then it could really screw your tax wise. Although you can spend 90 days in the UK without being liable for income tax, you can only have 30 days of working before full income tax is applied. This is very strictly applied and is also very difficult to work out because a lot of the ‘rules’ are not written in statute but are applied anyway as ‘guidance’ EG just answering a work email could mean that 24hour period is considered a working day. Flight times from/to Singapore on a business trip could also be considered a working day (depends whether before/after midnight), it’s gets quite complicated. You need to make sure you will be 100% inside the criteria or HMRC will be after UK income tax. We had to be very careful about this as DH was flying all over the place for business and we had to be certain we were within the tax liability rules for both countries at all times.

Mummy578485 Tue 14-May-19 11:34:57

Lots of good advice! I'll try to answer everything.

I negotiated a higher salary than the initial offering based on the high cost of rent so I suspect I might be asking too much for an allowance on top of that.

My company is relatively new at sending employees abroad - I don't think they have sent anyone with a full accommodation allowance. I do plan to ask advice from others who are about to make the move (to other countries).

I may be traveling outside Singapore occasionally, maybe for a few days for the odd conference now and then.

We are being paid in SGD. I think that's best given the uncertainties around Brexit.

We own property, no mortgage, that we are letting out while we are gone. Do we pay UK or Singapore tax on this?

Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 14-May-19 11:37:24

Cars - if you need to sell here and buy in Singapore that again is a significant expense
You can’t just buy a car in Singapore, there’s only a certain number of special licences allowed per month (to control the amount of cars on the road). Even if you get through the ‘lottery’ the cost is prohibitive and tbh given the size of Singapore and the excellent and cheap public transport and taxi services available, it’s unnecessary for the majority of people.

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