Expatriate Jobs - Summary of Main Employment Issues
We provide a checklist below of the areas you should consider when considering an overseas job, whether it is a new job or an assignment from your existing employer.
Many positions will expand your horizons both technically and also managerially. You should not expect however that these will automatically be appreciated when you return to Australia and you should explore what has happened to other employees who have gone on similar assignments, or returnees within your own profession or sector.; There are a limited number of companies that manage this aspect properly, and they tend to be “international” in their scope and dependent upon an internationally mobile and professional workforce. Similarly, in a number of professions like accounting, law and engineering periods overseas can be viewed very positively – but you can leave your “network” behind and that can have a negative impact. In short, Australia can still be a very parochial environment and you need to plan for your eventual return and work hard to maintain your contacts.
This will likely change with time, but you shouldn’t rely upon it as an excuse for not doing planning and thinking the future will look after itself. Australians almost always return home – usually at those junctures which are critical in terms of the education of their children. Whatever excitement an expatriate career holds, most Australians still believe this is one of the best countries in the world to bring up children.
We discuss these issues in more detail in our document: Exfin Australian Expatriate Career and Remuneration Issues 2017
Offshore salaries can often look very attractive when translated into Australian dollars – but you should consider a number of factors when comparing packages and negotiating terms and conditions:
- Host Country Tax rates
- Exchange rate changes – are you protected
- Cost of Living Differences - see table below
- Housing Costs
- Health & Life Insurance
- Education Costs – including later boarding schools
- Social Security Payments
- Pension Benefits
- Costs of regular returns to Australia and holiday leave
- Relocation costs
- Notice provisions
- Redundancy terms
In the case of a dispute over your contract entitlements, an important consideration is also where any dispute will be adjudicated and what contract law (eg. Australian) applies to any interpretation of the contract.
Cost of Living Differences - World Cities
The table below provides a quick indication of how major cities are ranked in terms of the cost of living in 2015 and note that Sydney, Australia's most expensive city, is number 31 on the list, based on a recent major survey. It is crucial to appreciate that these figures are based on averages - so the real cost impact will depend on issues such as family size and number of school age children, lifestyle and accomodation required. These figures are also very sensitive to exchange rate changes, and are based on USD.