Opinion 

Delivering Brexit-friendly employee benefits is crucial

Gordon Delaney

Gordon Delaney

Robust employee benefits packages are fast becoming one of the most important considerations for employees in making decisions about their career, and employers are realising that making them a priority is key to attracting and retaining top talent.

Given the unpredictable nature of the world today, what people need those packages to deliver is evolving all the time.

In recent years we have experienced increased levels of global economic, geographic and political uncertainty, while the continued threat of terrorism has made people more aware than ever of the need for access to services like employee assistance programmes and security advice. 

A greater focus on delivering a healthy work-life balance in workplaces in the UK and across the world has led to a demand for access to counselling and support services as a central part of employee benefits packages.

In the case of those who are required to relocate to another country as part of their job or travel extensively, the need for these services is even more critical.

As the implications of Brexit continue to unfold, the reality is that an increasing number of people are likely to find themselves becoming expats, as organisations - particularly across the financial services sector - move their operational bases out of the UK to cities across Europe, such as Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Meanwhile almost three million ‘inpats’ who have come to live in the UK from countries across Europe face uncertainty regarding their future.

While it’s not yet clear exactly what the post-Brexit reality will look like, there is considerable concern over what rights expats living in the UK or moving out of the UK will have, in terms of accessing healthcare.

As it stands, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) delivers a reciprocal agreement across the majority of countries in the EU, allowing UK and EU citizens access to medically necessary treatment until the cardholder returns to their home country. This cover also includes pre-existing conditions.

However, there is no clarity as to whether that agreement will be retained and no indication as to when that decision will be made. 

When it comes to developing employee benefits packages, particularly for international clients, there is an opportunity to address this concern now in order to ensure employees are well protected and prepared ahead of the 19 March 2019 deadline, when the UK is due to officially exit the EU. 

Even without Brexit as a consideration, sending employees abroad can be a complex process. And for those being sent abroad for work, it is often extremely stressful, especially if it means uprooting their entire family as well.

Having easy access to health and wellbeing support is one thing they do not want to have to worry about.

That is where a robust employee benefits package, including access to high quality healthcare services and support - no matter where in the world they are, with or without the EHIC - is invaluable. 

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