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Hybrid & Distance working by the Office of Tax Simplification

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has launched a review of hybrid and distance working and the tax implications for workers.

The global COVID pandemic forced employers and employees to find new ways of working and gave rise to a ‘new normal’ where employees have adopted more flexible working arrangements including working from home or hybrid working, be it locally or crossing borders.

The planned consultation will review the extent to which hybrid and remote working will increase, how often this happens cross-border and the potential tax challenges that may be faced by both employers and employees.

The results of this consultation, which the OTS are expecting to publish in early 2023, could ignite major changes to remote working models, where employees decide to work and how employers handle these requests.

The OTS has said that “With the drive to adapt to the changing market, and a breadth of regulations to consider, tax isn’t always the first thing on people’s minds when designing their policies”. Models and policies set out by employers will need to be reviewed and updated to meet the growing demands of workers whilst ensuring compliance with regulations.

The implications of cross-border working go far beyond just the tax implications, employers will also need to consider the challenges of employment law in multiple jurisdictions, pension contributions and share schemes.

Rebecca Diamant, associate director of Tax and Global Mobility at Abbiss Cadres, said that “disputes about tax residency” are a key issue for employers. “Currently, remote workers are a key area of focus for our clients. We are seeing more emphasis on remote working, but the complexities of cross-border working means that this could easily result in disputes about tax residency of the employees who work remotely. It is helpful that the difficulties that are being faced are being recognised and hopefully a pragmatic solution can be agreed”.

Warren Wayne, Partner Employment Law at Abbiss Cadres said “having said it will be mindful of employment law, the OTS will need to address the complexities employers face when their employees choose to work in other countries. There is understandably a lack of consistency in the mandatory local employment laws which can apply to staff who frequently work from home in a different jurisdiction to their employer. This can be difficult for HR departments to track and to ensure compliance, especially where more than one set of mandatory laws applies to a number of staff. If the UK’s employment laws begin to diverge from those of the EU following Brexit, this will only add to the complexity employers are already facing”.

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