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By Sahil Shah, Consultant, Deloitte 

Technology solutions that assess cross border risk often enable organisations to tackle multiple problems at once. However, without initial alignment amongst business travel program stakeholders, organisations run the risk of deploying impractical solutions. Incentivising all stakeholders to align at the outset can avoid problems before they occur.

Asking business travellers what activities they intend to undertake during their business trip is a typical question in most technology based pre-travel risk assessments. This helps identify obligations relating to several compliance regimes including Posted Worker Directive (PWD), Immigration and Permanent Establishment (PE).

Consider the scenario where someone working in the UK undertakes a business trip to the United States. Depending on their nationality and the nature of their work duties, they might require a work permit. If the work permit is sponsored by the US host entity they work for then there could be income tax implications for the employee. In turn, the income tax position may impact the permanent establishment position of the home entity in the host country which brings with it payroll withholding implications.

If, in this scenario, different stakeholders are responsible for PWD, Immigration and PE in isolation, then each may want to apply their own unique lens to the journey in order to maximise assessment accuracy. However, this approach would force employees to answer multiple questions before they travel creating a large administrative task in advance of the trip.

Now imagine that it’s not just one traveller, but hundreds and perhaps thousands, many of who are making multiple trips each year. Where thousands of employees are burdened by the distinct needs of separate stakeholders, several rounds of questioning can quickly cause disengagement from the process and diminish the value of the assessment process.

We understand that each stakeholder needs to resolve the nuances in the intended activities to varying levels of granularity. Corporate tax specialists might be interested in knowing whether the employee participated in contract concluding activities whereas that distinction will be less important for a PWD specialist.

Where stakeholders are left to make decisions like a committee, the assessment process could end up looking like the proverbial camel which everyone had intended to be a racing horse.

How do you come up with a single set of questions which adequately distinguishes between subtle differences for each compliance regime whilst balancing the user experience to maintain a healthy level of engagement?

This question set may ultimately look different for each business depending on the nature of their industry. However, the starting point is very likely to be one where all stakeholders are brought together and encouraged to understand the problem both from their own perspective and the perspective of their colleagues.

If you are interested in discussing business traveller experience and how to erase potential tensions in data gathering and use, please get in touch. We would be delighted to help you design a robust and long term solution that tackles multiple challenges simultaneously using a tested methodology which facilitates collaboration between stakeholders right from the beginning.

  Sahil Shah1842

Sahil, Shah, Deloitte

I am a Consultant in Deloitte’s Global Workforce team and lead implementations of technology solutions for large organisations to manage their short term business traveller populations. I have 9 years of experience working across a span of disciplines ranging from expatriate tax advisory to data analytics and visualisation. In my free time I enjoy watching stand-up comedy shows and solving maths riddles…

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