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Government Affairs Forums Address COVID-19 Mobility Impact

Even though employee mobility is drastically reduced as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments continue to act—and Worldwide ERC® continues to monitor and advocate on key issues.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the global travel and immigration restrictions necessary to contain its further spread are resulting in an unprecedented near-halt of employee relocation. The Worldwide ERC® Government Affairs Forums are continuously staying on top of the changing global stage of the impact of COVID-19 on workforce mobility. To this end, Forum leaders work with Worldwide ERC® staff to ensure our organization is following, analyzing, reporting and advocating on rapidly developing issues of interest to our members related to COVID-19.

As world governments have adjusted to travel and interaction restrictions, but are still conducting business when possible, so are the Forums. In lieu of the spring face-to-face meetings, the Forums will be conducting virtual meetings on 13 May as part of the Worldwide ERC® Road to Recovery virtual event. Worldwide ERC® Forum leaders will focus their meetings on the latest policy issues on COVID-19 related to their respective areas of workforce mobility.

Forum members will have an opportunity to interact in the meetings through the submission of comments and questions. Material including the agenda, slide presentation and accompanying material will be available prior to the virtual meetings. To register for the virtual Forum meetings and review the schedule, please go to Road to Recovery. Registration for the virtual event and Forum meetings, which are complimentary for Worldwide ERC® members.

While the Forums have been concentrated of late on almost exclusively the implications of COVID-19 on workforce mobility, they continue to track other relevant issues. Below is a synopsis of additional issues being monitored by Forum leaders and staff.

Synopsis of Forum Issues

GLOBAL FORUM
Chair – Nino Nelissen of Executive Mobility Group
Email: globalforumchair@worldwideerc.org
Vice Chair – Dale Collins of Graebel Companies Inc.

For the past three years, Brexit has dominated much of the discussion by the Global Forum. With the United Kingdom (U.K.) now in a transition period and the terms of its separation from the European Union (EU) agreed upon, the dialogue is now focused on the long-term, big-picture relationship between the U.K. and EU. Negotiations between the U.K. and EU had paused due to COVID-19 but have resumed again through virtual meetings. The Forum is also focusing on other areas of the EU, such as Spain and France, where labor reforms were being debated and protested prior to COVID-19. EU states have until 30 July 2020 to conform to the recent EU Posted Workers Directive, which, among other changes, requires employers to pay temporary foreign workers the same wages as their local workers.

IMMIGRATION FORUM
Chair – Jurga McCluskey of Deloitte UK
Email: immigrationforumchair@worldwideerc.org
Vice Chair – Azmina Aboobaker of Facebook

In regard to Brexit, the Immigration Forum continues to focus on the specifics for companies after the transition period in moving employees between the U.K. and rest of Europe and in relocating new employees to the U.K. The Forum is also tracking developments in Saudi Arabia, which is making changes to its Nitaqat color-grading system on the balance between Saudi citizens and foreign nationals employed by companies operating in the country. Just prior to COVID-19, the U.S. government had solidified its new H1-B submission and section process, which could be impacted by future immigration proclamations related to COVID-19.

REAL ESTATE AND MORTGAGE FORUM
Chair – Jay Hershman of Baillie & Hershman
Email: realestateforumchair@worldwideerc.org
Vice Chair – Patrick McManamy of McManamy McLeod Heller

The Real Estate and Mortgage Forum is addressing a wide array of issues, from the increasing number of homes in Massachusetts affected by foundation issues to whether a relocation management company should use one or two deeds in a particular state. In New York, an ongoing challenge is ownership disclosure requirements for transactions involving multiple owners that may not lead up to an actual person. The Forum continues to also address increasingly sophisticated email scams that direct real estate closing funds to individuals committing fraud.

REGULATORY AND COMPLIANCE FORUM
Chair – George Powdar of Altair Global
Email: regulatoryforumchair@worldwideerc.org
Vice Chair – Jeff Margolis of SIRVA Worldwide Inc.

The California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on 1 January. The new law, combined with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other varying data privacy laws around the globe, poses a challenge for businesses that now need to comply with multiple privacy regulations. The issue is even more complex for RMCs and other businesses that need to be compliant throughout their larger supplier chains. Also in California, Assembly Bill 5 entitles workers classified as employees to greater protections and imposes a new test for determining which workers must be considered employees. While intended primarily to classify drivers for Uber and Lyft as those companies’ employees, it is capturing moving truck drivers and numerous other professionals not necessarily intended for inclusion by the bill’s authors.

TAX FORUM
Chair – Hank Roth of Dwellworks LLC
Email: taxforumchair@worldwideerc.org
Vice Chair – Craig Anderson of AECC

Prior to the end of 2019, the U.S. Congress passed a tax package that continued several extensions of deductions, including one for mortgage insurance premiums. A new W-4 form is required in the U.S. for all new employees who start after 1 January 2020. Finally, a digital tax on large internet companies has escalated into a global trade dispute between the U.S. and France. A digital tax would apply to the location of revenue of internet companies as opposed to the country in which the earnings are reported. France acted first with a 3% levy on companies with global revenue above €750 million and digital sales in France of more than €25 million. Since most of the companies are U.S.-based, the Trump administration proposed tariffs of $2.4 billion on French goods entering the U.S. The Macron and Trump administrations, respectively, have agreed to delay the digital tax and proposed tariffs through the end of 2020 as they resolve the matter.

For more information about public policies impacting the workforce mobility industry and the advocacy efforts of Worldwide ERC®, please visit: worldwideerc.org/government-affairs/.

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