Remote working from abroad: Are you covered in all circumstances?

  • remote work
Published on 2023-08-28 at 14:00 by Asaël Häzaq
Remote working has been on the rise for the past few years. Since the Covid pandemic, most of us have spent a few days a week away from the office. While we've heard of working remotely in the next town or region, remote working from abroad is gaining ground. Large companies are even offering turnkey packages to their employees. But what are the risks, and how do you make sure you're covered at all times?

Remote working from abroad is on the rise worldwide

WTW, a leading insurance broker and risk management consultancy firm, has conducted a survey on the risks associated with working remotely from abroad. The first change concerns the number of expats, which is expected to increase again in 2023. 71% of responding companies confirm that they are working with more remote professionals. Nearly half of them (45%) allow or plan to allow remote working abroad within 3 years, mainly for short periods. 40% of companies are talking about stays of less than 30 days. 33% are looking at periods of 1 to 3 months. Barely 27% of companies surveyed are in favor of remote working for more than 3 months.

While traditional remote working forces companies to reorganize their operations, it requires even more reorganization when it takes place abroad. Unlike self-employed expats (they cannot telecommute because they do not work for a company), employees remain subordinate to their company, which requires a review of the rights and obligations of both employers and employees.

The principal risks of telecommuting abroad

Since Covid, a number of measures have been introduced by countries to provide a framework for this new way of working.

Employer approval

Before you even think about your destination, make sure you have your employer's approval. Since the pandemic, some employees have been traveling abroad behind the company's back, risking liability for themselves and their company. Make sure that your job is compatible with remote working and that it is legal. Your employer must be informed before you leave so that they can review your contract (hours, missions, format of meetings, etc.). In fact, only your employer can authorize you to remote work from abroad.

Immigration rules

Beware of illegal telecommuting. Just because you're still under contract doesn't mean you can go to any country for any length of time. You are still subject to the host country's immigration rules: visa and residency/work permit. If you are a European citizen, you benefit from free movement within the European Union (EU) and do not need an entry visa. Other countries have special visas for remote workers. Otherwise, you'll need to follow the standard visa process. You'll be considered an illegal immigrant if you don't follow the rules. Your employer may also be liable for allowing you to work from abroad without complying with the host country's laws.

Working hours

Beware of the duration of telecommuting. Several studies have shown that remote work abroad is too often associated with long working hours. This can be even more true abroad, where the working hours are sometimes different from those of the home company. Again, you'll need to adhere to the hours specified in your contract. It's up to the employer to ensure you comply with the rules on working hours and organization.

Applicable law

You think you've got it all sorted out with your employer. The contract has been revised to take account of your new circumstances. You and your employer have agreed that the law of your country of origin (where you used to work) will apply. In practice, however, it is quite possible that the law of the expatriation country will apply. Hence, the potential for conflict, as Chinese, American, Brazilian, South African, Moroccan or Norwegian law may take radically different positions on the same issue (gender equality, measures against dismissal, unionization, right to strike, etc.). Before considering remote work, it's best to find out where your host country stands on worker rights.

Working remotely: The employer's obligations

While the physical link may weaken (you're no longer with the company), the contractual link remains as strong as ever.


Under the terms of your contract, your employer has a duty to ensure your safety. This duty extends to remote workers. As part of this, the employer implements information, training and prevention measures. If the employer fails to meet this obligation, both the employer and the company risk civil and/or criminal liability (fines, imprisonment). The employer is liable as a natural person, and the company as a legal entity. It's best to check the legislation and case law in your country of origin before you start working remotely.


Your employer must continue to provide you with social security coverage. For example, an accident that occurs during remote working hours is considered a work-related accident, and the employer is liable. But beware: the rules change when you remote work from abroad. Under the principle of territoriality, the company is subject to the social security legislation of the country where the employee works. An accident or illness that the company's plan would normally cover may not be covered if it is not covered in a foreign country.

Therefore, you and your employer must register with the host country's social security authorities to declare the wages received and pay the applicable social security contributions in accordance with the country's legislation. The type of benefits and the level of coverage also depend on the country in which you are teleworking. It's important to check whether the country you want to visit has signed a bilateral international agreement with the country where you usually work.

What can you expect from your employer?

Working remotely involves a certain bugdet. For example, you have to pay for electricity, set up a workstation, etc. These costs, called "professional expenses," must be covered by your employer. The company must reimburse you if you have to pay for new equipment. These expenses include computer equipment, Internet access, telephone charges, and anything you need to do your job. Remember that your employer cannot deduct these expenses from your pay. But again, it depends on the laws in your country. Some laws only require a contribution to the employee's essential expenses.

The bottom line

Remote working from abroad may sound like a dream, but the reality is that you need to be well-prepared before you pack your bags. Telecommuting has an impact not only on the work itself but also on other aspects of an employee's life: taxation (you may have to pay taxes and social security contributions in the country where you telecommute), reporting to the authorities (the employer is obliged to report your change of situation), working hours and organization of the day (will you be present at meetings? Will you be working on a time-shift basis? Many other points need to be discussed with the company before considering a move abroad.

While it is possible to remote work from abroad with the company's approval, consultation and negotiation are essential for the success of the project. It is also vital to obtain information on the foreign country's legislation to ensure a smooth transition.