04 July 2023

Employers can provide better support by NOT matching benefits globally

Employers should consider not matching employee benefits on a global basis, according to Towergate Health & Protection. Having seen many employers taking this approach, the specialist adviser in health and wellbeing support advises that offering the same benefits across different countries is not always be the best option.

“While it is vital to ensure that all employees are fully supported in terms of health and wellbeing, this does not necessarily mean offering the same benefits to all overseas employees as those based in the home country,” says Sarah Dennis, head of international at Towergate Health & Protection.

Trying to match the benefits for those working in different countries may mean that employers are either over- or under-providing. It can lead to a lack of support in some areas and overcompensating in others. Instead, employers should consider what they are trying to achieve and what they need to offer to accomplish this.

Finding the right balance

It is often necessary to look separately at specific areas of health and wellbeing support to ensure they are given the right weighting in each location.

Care for dependants

Where employees may expect two- to four-times salary, or even higher, for life assurance in the UK, other countries will have different expectations. Overcompensating can cost employers unnecessary money that could be better spent elsewhere.  

Maternity support

The cost of giving birth differs enormously from country to country. In the UK, where the NHS covers the cost of having a baby, it is easy to become complacent and to forget the costs elsewhere. In the US, it costs nearly $19,000 (£15,200) on average to give birth.

Evacuation and repatriation

Requirements for evacuation and repatriation cover will differ according to the countries in which employees are based. Some areas will have a greater level of risk, will be more remote, or have less access to medical care, meaning greater support is required.

Industry dependent

The level and type of wellbeing support offered will also depend upon the industry. Sectors such as technology and financial services are highly competitive and so tend to offer higher levels of benefits, so companies in these industries must provide top-of-the-range support in order to recruit and retain the best people.  

Access to specialist local knowledge

Employers must look at what is covered by the state and what benefits they need to provide, before making any decision on what to offer. Having access to this degree of detailed knowledge for each benefit and each country is specialist, so it is important to have access to it. A regionally based adviser will know what state provision is in place, what support is mandatory for employers to provide, and what benefits local employees expect.

Sarah Dennis concludes “If an employer wants to harmonise benefits globally, a good adviser will ask why. Health and wellbeing support should be about providing the appropriate benefits, not necessarily the same benefits. The best way to treat employees fairly is to ensure that all four pillars of health and wellbeing are being supported: physical, mental, social, and financial.”