New Ways for International One-Way Transfers: Process 101

    Apr 04, 2023 @ 05:35 PM / by Grace Kernohan

    Greg Lynch

    Photo AIRINCer by Greg Lynch

    New Ways for International One-Way Transfers: Process 101

    One-way moves used to be just for permanent transfers, but global mobility is finding creative ways to apply this policy approach to save costs, support remote work, and give employees the flexibility they want. In this blog series, we’re taking a deeper dive into one-way transfers, focusing the fundamentals of a one-way transfer policy. Please read on for the fifth installment of this series (click for posts 1, 2, 3 and 4). 

    Before considering one-way moves within an organization, mobility needs to ensure that there is a written policy document that clearly states who is eligible for the policy. Without clear policy documentation, programs can wind up creating one-off packages for each transfer, with no guardrails in place to ensure consistent and equitable application among employees. Further, without a well-defined section on eligibility, the business may start requesting one-way moves in inappropriate circumstances. Trying to support an employee on an international transfer, when they’re truly doing a two-year expat assignment, is a challenge that no mobility professional wants to face. Mobility can prevent such frustrations by thoughtfully planning the policy document.

    Another process aspect to consider is compensation. While one-way moves typically have the employee move onto local compensation, it’s important to consider how the business will manage the change in transferring into the host scheme. If the structures are similar between home and host, mobility can use compensation data available to decide an adequate salary point for the employee to move onto.

    However, if compensation is significantly different between origin and destination, mobility needs to work with total rewards to clearly define a process for how to decide local salary. For example, a one-way transfer from Mexico to Switzerland will result in a higher compensation for the employee, due to the employee moving from a lower-compensation and cost-of-living country to a higher-compensation and cost-of-living country. An employee will happily relocate to the higher compensation structure; however, the scenario in reverse presents a challenge in that the employee is not likely to accept a large pay decrease.

    Determining how to adjust compensation in a way that is equitable to the employee’s local peers, while still being enticing to the employee, may be an impossible challenge. But if mobility can identify a process when employees are asked to relocate between countries with vastly different compensation affinities, they’ll be ahead of the curve when these problems eventually arise. In these cases, an international assignment may be the better alternative. 

    For the full article, originally published in the Issue 4 copy of Mobility Magazine, please click here.

    mobility front page

    Let's Talk



    More recent blog posts:

    Topics: AIRINC News, Thought Leadership, one-way transfers

    Grace Kernohan

    Written by Grace Kernohan

    Grace Kernohan is a Senior Manager of Advisory Services at AIRINC. She joined AIRINC in the fall of 2017 working in Client Engagement, and transitioned to Advisory Services in April 2020. She specializes in consulting and benchmarking, focusing on policy reviews, market alignment, and mobility communications. She has worked on a range of projects, including NGO policy suite revisions and pharmaceutical M&A mobility function consulting. She has also traveled internationally performing cost-of-living surveys. She graduated from Union College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and economics. She is based in Boston, MA.