What you need to know about the growing trend of 'working from hols' - Scotland on Sunday Travel

An increasing number of employees are choosing to work remotely abroad, writes Katie Wright.

We’ve all seen them – those infuriating Instagram posts showing a laptop positioned in front of some sunny, idyllic location, with a caption reading something like, ‘My office this week – don’t mind if I do’.

Now that travel is back, more and more people are choosing to ‘work from holiday’ rather than home and new stats from LinkedIn show this year alone, 39% of UK workers have ‘worked from hols’, with that figure estimated to rise to 49% in 2023.

Foreign remote working is particularly appealing to the younger generation, with twice as many Gen Z’s (33%) having worked abroad before or after a holiday this year, compared to those aged 55 and over (15%).

A beachside cafe in Bali, a popular destination for remote workers. Pic: Alamy/PA.

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It’s not hard to see why. The nine to five slog isn’t so bad when you can go to the beach on your lunch break and unlike the ‘digital nomad’ route of self-employment, you don’t necessarily have to quit your job.

So if you’re dreaming of joining those jetsetters combining their career goals with their travel bucket lists here’s what you need to know about working remotely abroad…

Do you always have to inform your employer if you’re working remotely abroad?

“It isn’t usually necessary to tell your employer if you choose to catch up on emails whilst on holiday abroad,” says Joanne Moseley, employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell (irwinmitchell.com).

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Taking a screen break. Pic: Alamy/PA.

But if you want to work outside the UK on a permanent or temporary basis, you will need to get your company’s permission.

“Working in a different country introduces a whole new set of issues your employer will need to consider in relation to tax, social security and employment protections,” Moseley says.

There are data protection considerations too: “If the employee breaches these rules then the employer is at risk of facing fines and penalties.”

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What if you sneak off, set a fake background for Zoom calls and hope you don’t get caught?

Working online from a tropical beach with laptop. Pic: Alamy/PA.

Not a good idea, Moseley warns: “If you don’t tell your employer and just assume that you can work abroad, you could be dismissed for gross misconduct.”

How should you go about asking if you can ‘work from hols’ for a short time?

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Sometimes termed a ‘workcation’, this might involve tagging some time onto a holiday or basing yourself in one place for a few weeks – according to Airbnb, ideal destinations include Cape Town, Lisbon and Bali.

“Try to propose the move abroad as something that will benefit both you and the company equally,” says Professor Craig Jackson, occupational health psychologist at Birmingham City University (bcu.ac.uk).

With a laptop the world of work could be international. Pic: Alamy/PA

You might position the move as something that will allow you to be available to clients outside UK working hours.

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“Establish protocols for contacting you, working hours and what you can deliver and when,” suggests Jackson.

Above all, be reasonable and polite, and don’t threaten to quit if you don’t get your way – unless you’re willing to follow through.

What if you want to work abroad for a longer period?

“If you want to work abroad on a semi-permanent basis, then you need to explore with the company what your employment rights will be, how your benefits may be affected, and whether there are tax implications,” explains Liz Sebag-Montefiore, career coach and director of 10Eighty (10eighty.co.uk).

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“There may be options for you to move to a self-employed contract basis or some other contractual route that suits both parties,” Sebag-Montefiore continues. “In addition, check carefully whether you will become liable for tax and insurance in the country where you plan to work.”

Plus, you’ll need to consider what would happen if you were needed back in the office at home.

Sebag-Montefiore says: “It’s only reasonable to make accommodations that don’t leave your employer in the lurch. Offer suggestions as to how often you would be able to visit the home office, and who is going to pay for travel back to the UK.”

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