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Remote Working: Looking to the Future

Recently, remote working has become a key consideration for many employers. Employees have chosen to work from home, whether that be from their employment locations or from other places all over the world. This has undeniably led to employers needing to consider the longer term impacts of this and how the landscape of working will change in the future.

Considerations for Employers

If employees who require immigration support seek to work outside of their country of employment, they are likely to be impacted from an immigration perspective if they decide to work remotely. These should be addressed prior to any change to their location.

Key considerations include:

  • How will the employer monitor the location of their employees?
  • Will the employer support employees in their decision to change location?
  • If that change of location is outside of country of employment, will the employer support their immigration requirements
  • Has the employer reviewed immigration consequences for those who have departed their employing country?
  • Has compliance been managed for immigration required employees in their employing country?
  • Will the employer support dependant family immigration needs?

In Ireland, employers are required to notify the Department of Employment, Trade and Enterprise if they have employees working from home whilst in State during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, these notifications are accepted on a blanket basis, as opposed to each individual employee. If employers are planning permanent work from home arrangements, future planning for regional hubs or offices should be considered and these locations should be added to the Trusted Partner Registration if applicable. Employees should also be aware of their individual obligation to notify the Immigration Service Delivery team if they change their residential address. If the employee holds an Irish Residence Permit, the employee must ensure that they take all the necessary steps to maintain and renew that permission. The employer should regularly review that their foreign national employee population retains the right to work and can support their population with this.

Critical Actions

Employers need to take steps to ensure that they are reviewing and capturing any critical actions, including:

  • Reviewing and adapting existing systems and data sources for tracking employee population and ensuring remote workers are captured
  • Developing a remote working policy that sets out clear immigration guidelines
  • Determining what immigration support will be offered to employees seeking to remote work in an immigration required location or immigration required employees in employing country
  • Monitoring the regulatory environment closely and follow updates from immigration advisors as immigration policy changes regarding COVID-19 contingency plans, permitted absences outside of State

The Impact of remote working in Ireland

In Ireland specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the authorities towards a digitalisation of immigration services, including the introduction of electronic submission and issuance of employment permit applications , the online renewal of Irish Residence Permit applications in Dublin and various applications adjudicated by the Department of Justice being moved online .

Additionally, the Department of Justice strategy plan for 2021-2023 evidences a continued move in this direction with the online processing of applications, electronic issuance of approvals and the introduction of features such as chatbots.

Employment policy around the right to work remotely is also being reviewed by the Department of Employment, Trade and Enterprise and a public consultation is underway as a result of a recently published report. The report defines remote work quite broadly as an arrangement where work is fully or partially carried out of alternative worksite other than the default place of work. Potentially the Department could consider supporting remote working under a form of nomad visa permission, yet to be legislated for in Ireland.

Looking to the Future

As we start to see remote working become a more prevalent form of employment, some points to consider:

  • Employees who have had extensive absences from Ireland may face impacts at permit renewal, when applying for Long-Term Residency or on application to naturalise as an Irish citizen. The authorities have advised that absences as a result of COVID-19 will be reviewed pragmatically . However, this may have a further impact post-pandemic where the presumption will be to maintain residency in the State.
  • Aside from compliance, many countries are also looking to seek the benefits of remote working in their jurisdictions. Nomad visas have been introduced in various countries such as Barbados and Bermuda, to allow foreign nationals to work remotely and contribute to their economies.
  • Coming out of Covid-19 and with vaccination roll-outs, there is a discussion around the potential introduction of vaccine passports for travellers as well as the introduction of an EU-wide Digital Green Certificate to facilitate personal and business travel again in a post-pandemic world . This should assist in encouraging employees to travel to Ireland, especially with the considerations around remote working in the future.

Employers should start to consider the long term implications of remote working and how they will support this in the future. Policy and strategies should be put in place now to assess, manage and monitor the remote working population to ensure compliance across tax, immigration and other legal aspects both within the employment country and the foreign jurisdiction. Using technology will significantly streamline the administrative burden and compliance risk that employers will face.

In terms of technology, Deloitte has developed a technology enabled solution to address your biggest questions. Deloitte’s Remote Work Assessment manages large volumes of employee requests in a simple three step process. The compliance engines powering it are designed to analyse compliance risks and streamline stakeholder decisions

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