Employees on international assignments typically observe the holidays of their host country location, which is sometimes a bit of a surprise for the expats. They might be American citizens working for an American company in its Paris office, but they will be celebrating not U.S. Independence Day but French Bastille Day! They usually receive the same paid time off they received at the home location, but sometimes local laws or practices dictate a different arrangement. Employees on assignment also are given allowances for at least one trip home per year.
For the purposes of International Relocation Benefits, best practices dictate that employees assigned overseas accrue vacation time at the same rate that their home-based counterparts do. In most cases vacation time and sick time are made separate designations, but some companies choose to use Paid Time Off instead as a way to pool all time off. Again, local laws or practices might dictate some deviation from this policy. Some companies allow accrued vacation time to roll over to the following year, but in many cases any unused time will be bought out by the company at the end of the fiscal year.
Some holidays are widely observed, such as Christmas and New Year’s Day. Most, though, are more localized. American holidays like Thanksgiving and Independence Day are not recognized elsewhere, but every country has its own national and even local holidays, from English Boxing Day to Chinese New Year. These are the holidays recognized in the local workplace.
In addition to provisions for vacation time and holidays on location, consideration should also be given to an allowance for round trip travel home for the employee and immediate family members once per year. In some cases, two trips per completed year of assignment can be approved for employees living and traveling alone. This leave is typically in addition to standard vacation time. It is designed to assist the employees in managing their life back home, catching up with relatives, friends and work colleagues and taking care of any outstanding home country tasks.
A flexible, accommodating vacation and leave policy will help to persuade employees to accept international assignments and it will increase the odds that they will be completed successfully. Such a policy also marks a company as a good place to work and increases its chances of success in a competitive global talent market.