Company Benefits for RepatriatesFotolia
Companies should make returning expats feel welcome and appreciated.
Position within the Company
When she came back to her marketing company in Lyon, Marie-Elaine did not want to return to her old position. During her work in Advertising & Sales in Tokyo, she had learned quite a lot after all. “I wanted a position that fit my skill set and knowledge, so I negotiated for a promotion and a higher salary once I’d return to Lyon.”
It is often best for repatriates not to return to their old position. With their international experience, they may not always be suited to return to familiar routines and need new challenges instead.
Cost of Living
Upon their return, former expats do not only have to battle reverse culture shock, but they are also confronted with different financial challenges. Aleksi (48) from Finland faced such monetary issues after a long-term assignment with a clothing company in the Philippines.
“In Manila, my salary allowed us a high standard of living, with a big house and an excellent school for my son,” he says. “In Jyväskyla, this isn’t the case. Housing is a lot more expensive here, just like everyday items such as bread or eggs or toilet paper. You just need a lot more money to live.”
Aleksi talked with his superiors about interest-free loans to buy a house and a pay-raise to make up for the financial loss in living expenses. While only a low number of companies actively offer return incentive payments, you should always enquire about possible forms of monetary benefits, just like Aleksi did. Ideally, these will be part of a repatriation agreement settled before you even leave for your expatriate assignment.
When employees like Aleksi re-enter their home country, their whole family is affected by the change of scenery. Aleksi’s son had enjoyed a top-class education at an international school during their time in the Philippines. “I wanted to make sure that my employer continued to at least partially cover the costs for my son’s private education,” Aleksi explains. “Also, my wife needed support to get back into the business world here in Finland. She gave up her work to trail along. A new position or compensation for the lost income was something she, and all of us, could really use.” However, many employers have so far failed to take family benefits, such as for example career-counselling for spouses, into account. So, make sure to inform yourself early on in the expatriation process about possible family benefits.
Tax issues are something every expat faces abroad as well as upon repatriation. In many cases, expats have to deal with double taxation or higher taxes in their host country. Aleksi was looking to be compensated for this by his company. “I got free tax consultation and support from my employer to figure this out,” he says. “After all, tax issues can be tough and I needed all the support with tax minimization that I could get.” You can learn more about possible forms of tax reimbursements for expats in our expat finance section.