“Workcation” – Global mobility considerations 

January, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

As employees start to push the boundaries and consider travelling abroad to profit from a ‘working vacation’, it is essential that UK employers are aware of their obligations and the checks that must be carried out.

Visa requirements should not prove an issue if the employee is remaining within the UK, but there are numerous visa considerations and contractual terms that should be reviewed before approval is given to work overseas.

From a legal perspective, if employees are consistently working outside the UK, employers will need to be mindful of:

  • local employment law rights and/or restrictions in the destination country;
  • data protection issues (particularly around transferring data outside of the UK);
  • health and safety considerations; and
  • tax considerations.

The above list is not exhaustive and employers must be sure they are comfortable with the risks before allowing their employees to work overseas. In addition, employees seeking to work in another country will need to assess if a visa is required and follow the relevant rules of the destination country. Employers would need to monitor and ensure the employee is not engaging in any work or activity that would be in contravention of their particular visa and to be aware of ‘right to work checks’ existing in that particular country.

There are around 50 countries that offer a new type of ‘digital nomad’ visa, which is available to eligible employees wishing to work abroad. South Korea has become the latest country to offer this visa from 1 January 2024, which, according to the Justice Ministry, aims to make remote work and vacation of foreigners smoother.

One attraction of the digital nomad visa, compared with the conventional work visa, is the option to undertake work that is more temporary in nature. The employer does not necessarily need to have a legal entity within the destination country and it also offers flexibility as to the type of work an employee can engage in.

More general considerations may include local holidays, time differences and the employer’s ability in terms of resources to manage an overseas workforce. The employer may also wish to think more long-term into the effect of approving a request to work abroad, albeit temporarily, as it may be perceived as unreasonable if they were to then reject a request in the future. Lastly, the employer may wish to seek local advice in the destination country before agreeing to a workcation overseas, to ensure that both employer and employee are fully compliant.


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