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Compliance | Financial and compliance implications of managing a distributed, remote workforce

Financial and compliance implications of managing a distributed, remote workforce

In a recent blog post, we discussed the flexibility that the future of work has in store for employees.

That flexibility will, in some cases, include employees working remotely. However, as companies move to embrace remote work and a distributed workforce, there are new compliance considerations that HR, finance, and payroll teams will have to manage.

The ability to work remotely means that employees could be working anywhere in the world without HR or managers knowing. This creates a potentially massive compliance and financial risk.

How can remote work open up your organization to risk?

If an employee works remotely from their house in California, it is fair to assume they could do that same work in New York or London. And the intrepid employee may act on this idea to pick up sticks and relocate to another location for a week, a month, or even longer while still working as an employee in the state of California. If they do this without notifying their Manager and HR, they open themselves and their company to risk. Here’s how.

Different states and countries have different thresholds for the type of work and how many days an individual can be working within its borders before the individual and company owe taxes – or potentially more costly, inadvertently creates a permanent establishment.

For example, in the US, more than half of the states with a personal income tax require employers to withhold tax from a nonresident employee’s wages beginning with the first day the nonresident employee travels to the state for business purposes. Many states have different (and usually lower) standards for imposing tax on nonresidents. That is, the employee may owe tax even where the employer is not required to withhold tax. Things are equally complicated outside of the US. In the UK, the tax liability for revenue-generating employees begins as of day 60. In Europe, there is the Posted Workers Directive to contend with. And there are more than just tax and financial considerations. There are also work permit/visa/immigration concerns that must also be monitored.

Even if an employee does notify their manager of their intent to work from an alternative location for some time, will the manager know if that location creates a compliance risk? And do HR, payroll, and finance teams have the policies and structures to monitor and support an expanded distributed workforce. The effort in calculating multijurisdiction payroll withholdings alone could be prohibitively burdensome.

How can organizations enable remote work and reduce risk?

To protect employees and their businesses, HR, payroll, and finance teams need a solution that can proactively track and report on global employee footprint – flagging potential compliance issues before they arise – and determine where and how much tax withholding to account for. This is exactly what Topia’s Monaeo solution helps organizations do today. By pulling in data from a variety of sources, including travel bookings, HRIS data, and in-device apps, organizations can have an accurate view of where employees are at all times. And by integrating with payroll systems, the payroll withholding process can be automated.

Find out more about Topia


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Topia is the leader in Global Talent Mobility. We empower enterprise HR teams to deploy, manage and engage employees anywhere in the world. The Topia Global Talent Mobility platform enables businesses to deliver mobility as part of a broader talent and business strategy with enhanced employee experiences. This drives competitive advantage by ensuring the right people in the right place at the right time. The Topia platform automates the entire global talent mobility process, from scenario-based planning, compliance risk management, expat payroll, reporting and more. Topia powers global talent mobility programs for many of the world's most trusted brands, including Schneider Electric, Dell, Veolia, Equinor, AXA. Topia has raised over $100M from New Enterprise Associates (now NewView Capital), Notion Capital and others, and is a global company with offices throughout the Americas and EMEA. For more information, visit www.topia.com.