Top six things to consider before engaging an overseas project

Contractors working on a client site overseas are there because they are the best people to do the job.

This means that work has been done to ensure that there is a good fit between the client’s requirements and the contractor’s skills.

But it does not necessarily mean that the same consideration has been paid to the needs and requirements of that person working in that particular location.

We at Casterrian have compiled a list of things that should be considered before the project is agreed by all parties.

1. Ensure everyone has the right paperwork before they arrive in country.

Securing the right visas and work permits for everyone on site can seem like a bureaucratic marathon, but it is vital to get everything in order before work commences.

Medical tests can often throw a curveball when securing visas for foreign workers, and care should be taken to ensure that all required medical forms are completed and authorised correctly.

For example in Canada, medical tests can only be carried out by a doctor from an authorised list of panel physicians.

Provision of these Panel Physicians can be extremely limited (there are only two centres in Ireland, two in Denmark, and three in Germany).

Taking the time to ensure that all t’s are crossed and all i’s dotted (or having a reliable party confirm this on your behalf) can save a lot more paperwork and hassle further down the line.

2. Make sure all local payroll requirements are followed carefully.

It is vital that local payroll requirements are followed carefully, as the penalties for noncompliance can be steep.

The first step is to make sure that you (or the company you are using for local employment) is aware of the intricacies of local payroll legislation.

In Germany, for example, workers are required to fill out a form declaring religious affiliation and denomination to opt in or out of paying the local church tax. This tax is levied at different rates in different regions of the country.

As another example, in the UAE, all employee wages must be paid through the UAE’s electronic salary transfer system, known as the WPS, or Wages Protection System. Furthermore, wages must be paid to employees through the WPS within two weeks of the end of the pay period.

Accounting software giant Xero state the case plainly. “Payroll is covered by tax law, which is complex – wherever in the world you do business. The penalties for errors can be high.” Going on to say that “even the cost of an audit can bankrupt a small business.”

However, we do not wish to panic anyone with workers in foreign jurisdictions, and can reassure you that the costs of a Casterrian Compliance Audit are reasonable and transparent.

3. Make sure all parties are aware of local laws, and how they may apply.

The laws that apply to tourists and workers can sometimes differ in important ways, and can often catch people out.

For example, while a tourist can usually drive in Dubai using the driving license issued by their home state, once they have a worker’s visa, they are required to obtain a local license.

Failure to adhere to this regulation can lead to fines and increase the difficulty of getting the correct local license.

Frustratingly, these types of regulations are not always consistent within a region or country, and some laws apply on a counterintuitive case-by-case basis. For example, in the UAE, in some instances employment records are required to be in Arabic, whereas in others, no such requirement applies.

4. Confirm where the person(s) in-country can go for assistance, should it be required.

Workers in-country might need assistance for a variety of reasons and forearming all parties with the relevant emergency contact information can help to ease difficult situations, should they arise.

Typically, we always recommend that all workers onsite be informed of what they can do should they require any help with healthcare, consular assistance, or legal assistance.

Each of these three elements, and the workers entitlement to avail of them, varies widely from country to country, so it is important that the homework is done, and information shared ahead of any project commencement.

Taking this step can help to reassure any project workers, especially those going to carry out works in politically volatile jurisdictions.

5. Consider local customs

Though it’s not always possible to prevent, it’s not good for anybody concerned if the project site becomes an unwelcome imposition in the host country.

Try to avoid this as much as possible by ensuring all workers on site are aware of local customs. This should help to prevent any accidental antagonism between foreign workers and their local hosts.

A good Professional Employment Organization will supply workers with a clear and concise document detailing accepted social and business practices, as well as highlight things that could inadvertently cause offence, or even break local laws.

6. Try to provide for the mental and emotional well-being of those on-site.

Simply circulating a list of places to eat and drink, as well as highlighting any other local attractions can greatly enhance the perception of the location for those working on-site, and can help a project site become a good, productive, work environment.

At Casterrian, we pride ourselves on the extensive concierge services available to in-country workers, with round-the-clock support available to guide to workers and provide them with advice on airport transfers, hotel and restaurant reservations, taxi bookings, and many other services to make life easier.

About Casterrian

Casterrian IT Consulting helps businesses to expand their horizons by improving their IT infrastructure, ensuring that their systems are perfectly suited to their needs now, and flexible enough to adapt if those needs change.

Disclaimer: This article is a marketing communication and should not be considered as legal advice. This document is a general communication being provided for informational purposes only.