UK companies are increasingly concerned by the phenomenon of ‘wandering workers’ – employees who work in a different country from where their employer is located.
According to the respondents to the fifth European Employer Survey by international employment law specialist Littler, such footloose workers were complicating remote work policies for employers.
Almost three quarters of respondents (73%) to the survey said they had wandering workers, compared with 61% in 2021.
Among those who have employees working with this arrangement, most (89%) are concerned with the legal risks, tax implications and other employment issues that come along with it.
The respondents to Littler’s survey comprised 700 HR executives, business lawyers and business leaders drawn from across Europe.
Raoul Parekh, Littler partner in the UK, said Brexit had exacerbated the risks associated with the “work anywhere” culture. “Employers are rightly concerned about the myriad risks that come with wandering workers, and these risks are particularly heightened for UK-based companies following Brexit,” he said.
“Unfortunately, employee expectations in this area are not aligned with the realities of the global legal system, as it is genuinely challenging for employers to make ‘work from anywhere’ a reality.”
Only a third of firms look for AI biases
The in-depth survey found that nearly half of respondents (47%) were either currently using, or planning to use, technology solutions and/or AI tools to support recruiting and hiring efforts. Nearly two thirds (61%) of those who were already using such tools said they increased their use in the past year.
Although more than half (54%) of those using AI/technology solutions in recruiting and hiring said they had developed a plan that identifies specific goals and tests outcomes, less than a third of the respondents said they had conducted an assessment to ensure data privacy compliance (31%) or coordinated with vendors to conduct reviews of AI algorithms and identify potential biases (28%).
“In a tight labour market, business leaders are slowly but surely increasing their use of AI solutions in hiring and recruiting – and seeing how useful they can be,” said Laura Jousselin, Littler partner in France. “As usage of these tools ramps up, it’s important for legal departments to raise awareness of the compliance steps that must be taken and ensure applications are developed under legal review.”
Amid rising economic uncertainty, the survey found signs of caution emerging among European employers, though they did not appear to be taking drastic steps en masse at this time. Roughly a quarter (27%) said that macroeconomic concerns had made them hesitant to hire new employees, while 37% were now either considering or implementing workforce reductions.
The survey report – which is being released at Littler’s European Executive Employer Conference, taking place October 18-19 in Dublin – covers additional legal and HR matters impacting European companies, including efforts to address pay equality, the skills gap and compliance with cross-border data privacy rules. It also contains country-specific analyses for Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK.