The new hybrid ways of working have changed the direction of global mobility and have created challenges for the leaders of global companies on how to continually support their people and consider their future and of the company.
In a publication from Relocate Global, Expatland Global Network’s Founder John Marcarian and London E-Tea Group Leader Ian Miles have shared their insights on what leadership looks like post-COVID 19.
John highlighted the importance of leaders knowing the needs of their employees. He shared that “leaving no one behind” is the philosophy leaders need to live by.
“As the mix of workers facing restrictions changes, we see many companies adopting a ‘two tier’ approach where there is a special focus put on isolated workers’ physical and mental health,” he says. “New forms of social interaction for those workers are put in place, such as the virtual team lunch (with food delivered!) or a simple delivery of employee care packages, or the implementation of additional medical or counselling support to address issues the isolated employee faces.” John added.
Ian Miles of James Cowper Kreston says that the challenge for leaders now lays in the ability to maintain an agile working policy for their employees.
“We need to focus on how we will manage that new way of hybrid working into the future,” Ian added.
Read the full article on the Relocation Global website.
Globally connected companies, Kreston FLS and Thelsa Mobility Solutions have joined The Expatland Global Network and will lead our Expatland Team (E-Team) in Mexico.
John Marcarian, Founder of the Expatland Global Network, says, “We are very fortunate to have Kreston FLS and Thelsa Mobility Solutions, a member of Harmony Relocation, as Group Leaders of our Mexico E-Team. Both firms are very established in Mexico and our global community of service providers can rely on Kreston and Thelsa to help their clients on the move.”
Kreston FLS, is a member of Kreston International, a global network of independent accounting firms. Kreston FLS is the primary provider of accounting, audit and taxation services to the E-Team clients coming in and moving out of Mexico City.
Thelsa Mobility Solutions will provide the logistics services required for moving successfully in Mexico City. Thelsa Mobility currently has 13 local offices throughout Mexico and a worldwide professional network through Harmony Relocation.
For both Guillermo Narvaez of Kreston FLS and Karina Mariscal of Thelsa, partnerships with companies with a global footprint is always encouraged and their membership in the Expatland Global Network is a complementary value-add service they can offer to their international clients.
The Expatland Global Network is made up of ‘E -Teams. Operating at a city level, they have essential local knowledge and insight and are a great resource for expats on the move.
Expatland began as a book, written in 2015 by John Marcarian, as a result of his personal expat journey. It later evolved into a global community committed in helping expats plan their move overseas.
E-Teams around the globe
The Expatland Global Network was launched by John in 2018. It is expanding rapidly and has established E-Teams in 31 cities including London, Sydney, Singapore, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Budapest, Hong Kong, and Toronto. With best-in-practice members recognising the importance of this service, many more will follow.
If you are interested in being part of Expatland Global Network or a business interested in being an E-Team member, you can get in touch with Expatland: http://www.expatland.com/contact/
Expatland Global Network continues to expand its partnership with Kreston International as two additional members join the Expatland community.
Kreston International is a global network of 170 tax & accounting firms in over 120 countries servicing business with top-quality professional advice and exceptional service.
Read more about this expansion of collaboration between the two networks here.
Expatland Giving Back Fund (EGBF), the not-for-profit parent company of Expatland Global Network, has continued to give back to the community by starting another project to help the pupils of the Aratashen school in Armenia. In partnership with Horizon Learning Center, Expatland Giving Back Fund has started an English Learning Program for students at Aratashen’s public school.
Arashaten is a small village located in the plains of Armenia. The main speciality of the locals is agriculture and gardening.
Teaching the English language to open wider opportunities
Expatland Giving Back Fund started its English learning program in Mid-March 2021 where a total of 88 students aged 6 to 14 have started their first lessons. The aim of the program is to provide students with opportunities to study the English language deeper, beyond the school’s English curriculum.
“Better education will help to keep the kids in the village, they will be able to find new work opportunities at their home place, instead of moving to the capital, as many do now in search of a job”, said Sevak Gharzaryan, principal of Aratashen school.
The program is taught by teachers who passed special training by Expatland Giving Back Fund. One of them is Anna Avagyan, a graduate of the State Language University of Armenia who has a wide practice of teaching English for kids for the past 10 years both in Armenia and Russia. Another teacher is Lili Ghazaryan who is pursuing a bachelor degree in IT at the American University of Armenia, but also has an English Teacher certificate and has taught math in English and English language for young kids for the past 3 years.
Continuing to give back
“Knowledge of English is an essential skill in today’s world. Not only does it provide increased education and vocational opportunities, but it also helps one form international friendships with people around the world. We are pleased to work with the students from Aratashen and give back to their community.” said John Marcarian, founder of Expatland Global Network.
Expatland Giving Back Fund is covering all the teacher’s expenses and books for the students are provided by Horizon Learning Center. The English learning program will be made available to older pupils by September 2021. The Expatland Giving Back Fund has been partnering with Aratashen school previously and it was decided to continue providing support to the school since mutual cooperation in the past has been proven to be fruitful.
Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians is a key priority of the Australian, State and Territory governments. But what does this mean to expats staying in Australia?
The Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Policy) outlines the approach to providing COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. It sets out key principles, such as that COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for free to all Australian citizens, permanent residents, and most visa-holders. Further, it outlines how COVID-19 vaccines will be accessible on a rolling basis, dependent on vaccine delivery schedules and the identification of groups for most urgent vaccination.
Who is covered by this policy?
The COVID-19 vaccination will be free for all Medicare-eligible Australians and all visa-holders excluding the following:
- excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit)
- 600 (Tourist stream)
- 651 (eVisitor)
- 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).
In terms of preliminary priority population groups, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) identified the top three priority for the vaccination which are:
- Those who are at increased risk of exposure and hence being infected with and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others at risk of severe disease or are in a setting with high transmission potential. This includes health and aged care workers; other care workers, including disability support workers; and people in other settings where the risk of virus transmission is increased, which may include quarantine workers.
- Those who have an increased risk, relative to others, of developing severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older people and people with underlying select medical conditions.
- Those working in services critical to societal functioning including select essential services personnel and other key occupations required for societal functioning.
For further information about the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, you may download the Australian Government Policy here.
Income protection has been available in Australia for over 30 years and grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Over time, due to the competitive nature of the industry, the features and benefits of income protection policies have grown to a point where claims paid are consistently exceeding premiums received making the industry unsustainable. In fact, income protection departments of Australian Life Insurers have lost approximately 4.3 billion dollars over the last 5 years.
The Australian and Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) has stepped in to address the situation and regulate the market to ensure it is sustainable. The measures imposed by APRA will significantly affect income protection policies entered into after the 1st of October 2021.
Importantly, there is no requirement for legislation to pass to implement these changes. APRA already has the power to impose them. APRA has confirmed the start date of 1 October 2021for the specific changes to be implemented.
What are the changes to income protection policies in Australia?
By the 1st of October 2021, Life Insurers in Australia will offer significantly less generous income protection policies to consumers.
The key changes are:
1. The discontinuing of agreed value policies. (effective 31 March 2020)
Previously, consumers could lock away an agreed value of the monthly benefit paid at the signing of the policy. If the policyholder’s income changed down the track, they would still receive the agreed amount even though their income may have decreased. Moving forward, the monthly benefit will be based on the policyholder’s actual income at the time of claim (or, for some insurers, the best year of earnings in any three years prior) as an agreed value is no longer available.
2. They are ceasing the ability to offer guaranteed renewable policies for the life of the policy with a maximum contract period of 5 years.
From 1 October 2021, Income Protection Policies can only be for a maximum of 5 years. After the 5 year period, a new policy must be entered into that reflects the current market terms and conditions. If a policyholder enters a new contract after the initial 5 years, medical underwriting is not required but any changes to the policyholder’s occupation, financial circumstances and dangerous occupations or pursuits or pastimes must be updated and reflected in the new policy. Insurers are also unable to extend a current policy even if the circumstances are the same. A new policy agreement must be entered into.
3. Limitation on the income replacement ratio available.
APRA is concerned that current excessive income replacement ratios and certain product features and benefits (particularly partial disability benefit formulas) can leave claimants in a better position financially than if they returned to full time work. Not only does this undermine the incentive for the person to return to full time work, but it may also lead to the individual paying additional premiums for cover that isn’t required.
Some examples of these policy terms and product features include:
- excessive indexation of the income level covered
- non-offset of income received from continued work, and
- additional non-income related benefits, such as rehabilitation benefits and transportation benefits.
APRA has announced changes to policy contract terms which mean that from 1 October 2021:
- benefits are capped at 90% of earnings at the time of claim for six months, and 70% after the 6 month period.
- indexation at the level of CPI is permitted.
- where income at risk excludes superannuation, SGC can be paid in addition to the 90%/70% cap otherwise the cap applies to income inclusive of SGC super.
- there is no cap on monthly benefits.
4. Limiting the way in which ‘income at the time of claim’ is defined
Previously, for agreed value policies, the monthly benefit was based on the agreed value at the time of policy commencement. Moving forward, income at the time of claim will be based on your actual earnings, not agreed earnings.
For policyholders with stable incomes, pre-disability income is to be based upon income at risk at the time of claim or within the last 12 months. For those with variable incomes, income risk is to be based on average annual earnings over a period of time appropriate for the occupation of the policyholder and reflective of future earnings lost as a result of the disability. It seems that the flexibility would cover people on maternity or unpaid parental leave.
5. The risk associated with long-term benefit periods (such as to age 65) is effectively managed and controlled by insurers.
For policies with long benefit periods, APRA requires stricter disability definitions. Previously, this was defined as being unable to perform your ‘normal job’. The expectation from 1 October 2021is that a more explicit definition of disability is established as some policyholders may be able to return to employment even though it may not come under the definition of your ‘normal job’. APRA aims to reduce the number of claimants who may be able to return to some paid employment but are not as they qualify for a monthly benefit under their agreed policy. This also presents some concern that policyholders could be forced to return to work before they are ready under stricter disability definitions.
What does this mean for existing and prospective policyholders?
Existing Policyholders are not impacted by these changes. The terms of their current policies will stay as agreed at the signing of the policy.
Prospective Policyholders should consider putting income protection in place prior to 1 October 2021 to ensure their policy falls under the current (more generous) arrangements.
As a result of these changes, we recommend that anyone considering putting income protection insurance in place consider getting appropriate cover sooner rather than later. The key benefits include:
- Protection of your most valuable asset, your ability to earn an income.
- Income protection cover is tax-deductible, which will effectively reduce the total cost of protection.
- Your policy can also provide benefits if you are injured and unable to work for short periods providing upfront payments for injuries such as broken bones or if you are diagnosed with a disease or cancer.
Just as the whole world does, relocations companies in Toronto continue to adapt, innovate and work harder than ever to provide assistance to expats during the pandemic. A lot has changed, everyone has had to adjust and bid farewell to the traditional process of moving from one city to another. And moving in and out of Toronto during this pandemic is different from what the usual norm for relocation has been pre-Covid19 times.
Nitin Badhwar of Welcomehome Relocations Inc., our relocation and shipping E-team member in Toronto explains what expats moving to Canada, and specifically Toronto, should expect.
So what has changed?
Strict implementation and compliance to health protocols have been paramount to making sure that service providers and expats alike are kept safe from the global pandemic. Information dissemination and aiding expats is now done virtually. If you are an expat who is planning to move to Toronto any time soon, expect these changes:
1. Virtual assistance
If you are planning to move to Toronto, expect that most communication will be done through online platforms like Skype and Zoom. You will most likely meet your service providers virtually. Meetings and deals will be done through your mobile and computer screens to reduce the risk brought upon by the Covid-19 virus.
The positive in this is that it is more convenient to reach and engage with service providers before you move. Similar technologies like FaceTime and Whats App are now more commonly used in the flow of communication.
2. Online tours and viewing
Looking for property has become virtual too. No need to worry about personally traveling to Toronto to look for a house or an apartment to move into. Relocation service providers now offer neighbourhood tours and orientations via video calls. Tours of rental accommodations and available properties are now done virtually which can be convenient.
3. Destination services apps
Destination services apps have been proven to be a very useful tool in advising and informing moving expats. The need for information, especially in these difficult and stressful times, has never been more crucial. Mobility managers can now easily give you information such as the movement on housing rates and other costs of living factors, country-wide and regional protocols in place to combat this pandemic, as well as continual and timely updates on changes to the protocols as they occur. With these service apps, you can now get real-time updates.
At the time of writing this article, Quebec has already instituted a curfew, and within days the province of Ontario is expected to implement something similar. With the service apps, this information can be communicated to travelling expats immediately so that you are properly informed and can make the right decisions.
4. Contactless grocery and shopping
If you are moving into Toronto or any part of Canada, you will be required to strictly quarantine for 14 days upon your arrival. So in addition to the aforementioned video tours and viewings, grocery shopping and delivery are now done virtually as well. This is to make sure that expats entering the country can avoid face to face interaction.
With all these adjustments, service providers continue to welcome traveling expats as they enter Canada, and ensure that you are properly and safely serviced throughout your transition. As the pandemic progresses service providers will continue to learn and come up with new and improved ways of doing things. You can expect that some of these changes will remain the norm even after the need for isolation is no longer required as they have already been proven efficient and effective.
Ten months into the worst pandemic in a hundred years, service providers continue to adapt, innovate and work harder than ever to stay relevant and provide value to their clients.
Impacts of this pandemic have been varied, depending on industries and consumer demand. Some sectors of the economy have thrived, while others suffered significant losses in business volumes and revenues. The corporate relocation industry, unfortunately, falls into the latter.
As a Destination Services Provider (DSP), the impact of lockdowns and restrictions on corporate travel have been severe. Almost overnight, as the world literally came to a standstill, the nature of our business and service delivery changed.
Initiations were halted or continually deferred as we all adjusted to a new reality. Offices were shut down and all employees tasked with working from home.
Clients’ need for information and timely updates became paramount, as everyone was left scrambling and guessing as to what was to come next.
And we continue to adapt and alter our modus operandi as most countries, including Canada, continue to see an unprecedented surge during the second wave of this crippling pandemic. There is now a new variant that is cause for renewed alarm, with the threat of looming lockdown extensions as well as possible curfews, which only serves to increase our challenges.
Adapting to the new norm and taking on the challenge
What these past 10 months have taught us is that we possess a tremendous ability to not only deal with such adversity but to actually rise to the challenges and overcome them.
In our sector, we have adapted and made significant changes to how we do things, some of which will continue long after this pandemic is over. While our office staff all work from home, we have been forced to accelerate our adoption of communication platforms like Zoom and Teams in order to keep our team connected and productive.
Similarly, our relocation specialists have turned to similar technologies like FaceTime, Whats App and Skype to not only connect with transferees and assignees, but in some cases to effectively service their needs.
This includes conducting neighbourhood tours and orientations via video, as well as providing virtual and visual tours of rental accommodations. Both of these “new” forms of servicing our clients are expected to continue as they offer some real efficiencies and benefits to clients, even when the need for isolation is no longer required.
The challenges in information dissemination
Our Destination Services app has also proven to be a very useful tool in advising and informing our relocating expats.
The need for information, especially in these difficult and stressful times, has never been more crucial.
Clients, be they mobility managers or the relocating expats, are dependent on information that we provide to ensure a relocation goes as smoothly as possible during these times.
he types of information are varied and continually changing – impact on housing rates and other cost of living factors, country-wide as well as regional protocols in place to combat this pandemic, as well as continual and timely updates on changes to the protocols as they occur.
At the time of this writing, one province (Quebec) has already instituted a curfew, and within days the province of Ontario is expected to implement something similar. All of which needs to be communicated to our clients and potentially travelling expats so that as they are properly informed and can make the right decisions.
The rise of out-of-the-normal services to cope with the health protocols
What we have also seen is the rise of services that we did not provide in the past. In addition to the aforementioned video tours and viewings, grocery shopping and delivery has become a mainstay as expats are required to strictly quarantine for 14 days when arriving in Canada.
Virtual assistance and video-calling support have also increased dramatically as in-person accompanied services have been impacted due to contactless and social-distancing requirements.
Keeping the doors open
Through it all, we continue to welcome transferees and assignees as they enter Canada, and ensure that they are properly and safely serviced throughout their transition.
The duty of care that was once primarily reserved for our clients, has had to be adjusted to ensure that there are adequate safeguards for our staff and relocation specialists providing accompanied services to our clients. Masks, PPE and cleaning and travelling protocols for vehicles have been introduced and are now the norm, and we will continue to further adjust and adapt as we collectively navigate through this pandemic.
We have learned much in the 10 months since this nightmare began, but as things once again get a lot worse before they get better, we will have to continue learning and coming up with new and improved ways of doing things.
While the effects of this coronavirus will be felt for years to come, one thing it did do was accelerate our progress and operational advancements in leaps and bounds.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and a global travel and economic shutdown definitely forced every company and industry to innovate, adapt and improve in order to survive.
And with vaccines on their way, we can hopefully all look forward to operating with these increased efficiencies and improvements as we welcome back a return to normalcy.
Our Tax & Accounting E-Team member a&o kreston has been named as one of the top accounting & tax firms of Switzerland by the renowned business journals of Bilanz and Le Temps.
Statista, an independent market research institute in Switzerland, went to great lengths to find out the country’s best accounting and tax advisors. Several thousand members of the industry and customers in the field of accounting and tax services took part in Statista’s research with a&o kreston coming on top.
“We are very pleased to be recognised by these renowned business journals,” commented Rouven Williman of a&o Kreston, Group Leader of our Zurich E-Team, “especially in a year like this with so much uncertainty, providing surety to our clients with their tax affairs gives them peace of mind.”
The global pandemic has affected workers from all over the world. Australia, like other nations, have implemented strict regulations on the travel of foreign nationals into their country.
Exemptions on Australia’s Travel Ban
In the latest amendment in Australia’s travel ban, the Border Force Commissioner has been given authority to approve travel in compelling and compassionate situations.
If your client’s work involves critical infrastructure projects, and health and essential services, then there is a chance that they would be approved to travel to Australia. Other exceptions include split families or if your client is a temporary visa holder with a prior established residence in Australia and was caught offshore by the travel restrictions.
The list of exemptions has been gradually expanded since the initial lockdown in March. The current list of exemptions includes:
- travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
- providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations, and delivering critical medical supplies
- person with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
- person sponsored by an employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).
- entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
- military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
- a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
- travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List
The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List categorizes the 17 occupations that provide the critical skills needed to help the recovery of Australia’s economy from the COVID-19 impact. Here are the occupations and ANZSCO code included in the PMSOL list:
- Chief Executive or Managing Director
- Construction Project Manager
- Mechanical Engineer
- General Practitioner
- Resident Medical Officer
- Medical Practitioner nec
- Registered Nurse
- Developer Programmer
- Software Engineer
- Maintenance Planner
Visa applications for other occupations will still be processed but those that fall under the PMSOL list will be given priority. Under continuous monitoring of the labour market and the development of required skill to recover from the COVID-19 impact, the Government and National Skills Commission may change and update the list.
What is a critical skill?
If your client’s skillset covers the following, then it is considered as a critical skill:
- travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
- providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations, and delivering critical medical supplies
- with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
- delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
- providing critical skills in religious or theology fields
- sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the PMSOL whose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.
If your client does not qualify for any of these exemptions, they can request for an exemption through the Commissioner’s Discretion – their request must be accompanied by the following:
- Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)
- Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
- Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how they meet one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above.
One important thing to take note of is that all travellers are required to provide evidence to immigration that they meet one of the exemptions mentioned before travelling.
How businesses are affected by the travel ban
Business owners who are running their company in Australia and are planning to hire a foreign employee should make sure that their employee has a valid Australian visa and an approved waiver of the travel ban.
There is no guarantee that the application to travel will be approved as the decision is subjective and there are approximately 20,000-25,000 applications each week. The chances of approval are very minimal so it is advisable to seek out a person who can work remotely rather than having to apply to travel to Australia.