COVID-19 update: handling mobility issues

March 23, 2020

Global Mobility teams have been front and center dealing with the COVID-19 developments around the world. Companies are striving to keep assignees safe while complying with corporate policies that are changing daily. At Mercer, we have been in ongoing conversations with our clients, discussing a variety of issues flowing from the COVID-19 outbreak, which affect global mobility programs.

In order to make sure our clients have access to our latest thinking and resources, we have created a website that compiles a variety of information and that will be updated in real time, and we will send out a mobility-specific blog approximately once a week.

Over the past few months, Mercer has issued updated recommendations for a number of locations worldwide, to account for the unprecedented hardship conditions international assignees are experiencing. We will continue to monitor the situation as circumstances change globally. We are always happy to help talk through issues your organization is facing, as we all work toward solutions in this unprecedented environment.

Over the past week, Mercer hosted several calls with some large multinational corporations to ask how they were dealing with several issues. Some of the takeaways from those calls include the following:

  • While formal Coronavirus communications are initiated at the organizational level (i.e., from corporate security, HR, etc.), mobility teams are facilitating communication efforts on an ad hoc or individual basis.
  • Mobility teams also help to define how these communications apply to their international assignees. For example, many companies have implemented general travel restrictions. Still it is not always clear whether these restrictions apply to international assignees or not. Mobility teams are working through these issues within their organizations.
  • Some Mobility-related travel now requires additional levels of approval, mainly based on the assessed risk in the home or host location. Whether the employee is comfortable proceeding with the scheduled assignment is considered.
  • Companies are requiring a two-week self-quarantine upon arrival back home from impacted locations. Since assignees often do not have housing readily available, many companies are covering the costs of lodging during that time.
  • Mobility teams are being proactive, staying in contact with their scheduled international assignees about upcoming assignments. Jointly they will determine whether any plans for the assignment have changed.

Additionally, Mercer recently conducted a flash survey on COVID-19 actions taken and future-plans. The next blog will focus on the flash survey’s key findings to keep you up to speed with the fast-paced changes we have been seeing. We anticipate future flash surveys or other ways for organizations to collaborate with one another during this time.

For additional information, please visit Mercer’s microsite and Stay Informed on Coronavirus as the situation evolves.