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5 Ways Employers Can Avoid the Risk of “Hush Trips”

Quick look: First came The Great Resignation. Then, there was “quiet quitting.” Now, “hush trips” are the latest work trend shaking up the industry. With remote work in high demand, there’s no room for secrets and workforce policies must be clearly followed to maintain compliance. Here’s a look at what employers should know and how working with a PEO partner can keep them protected.

After years of pandemic restrictions, the (formerly) mandated work-from-home lifestyle has transitioned into work-from-anywhere setups and is high on the list of a company’s most desirable perks. For many employees, a stable Wifi connection and a working laptop are the only things necessary to get the job done. No need to request time off or inform employers or co-workers of where they’re going and when; every day can feel like an escape.

But not so fast. This secret travel behavior has coined the term “hush trip,” which is when employees go on vacation while working remotely without letting their supervisor know. However, what most employees are unaware of is there’s compliance to consider before they take flight. They don’t understand the risk their employers face when they work outside of their home jurisdiction. After all, if the work is completed, what’s the problem?

When employees work outside of where they reside, their companies are at risk for non-compliance and can result in penalties. It can be quite costly, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) unprepared and unable to pay sanctions. Additionally, employees themselves may also face certain tax implications.

All states have their own parameters regarding who owes income tax. For instance, New York’s 14-day threshold states non-residents who work in the state beyond a 14-day timeframe within a calendar year makes the person obligated to pay income taxes to the state. Therefore, companies must have straightforward remote work policies, including timeframe and location conditions before “hush trips” become a problem.

Remote work expectations and exceptions can start to become hazy without risk and compliance experts on hand to clear things up. Working with a professional employer organization (PEO) partner can help SMBs minimize risks, create and communicate remote work policies, and ensure everyone is aligned. Ultimately, the responsibility lies within the employer to set boundaries of what is and isn’t allowed. It’s also in a company’s best interest to create a culture where this type of covert travel is unnecessary.

Here are five ways employers can avoid the risk of “hush trips” and set the tone for their employees.

1. Explain the risks

When employees don’t understand the reasons behind certain restrictions and boundaries, they may not feel the urgency of following a remote work policy. Employers should clarify their desire to provide the flexibility employees want but with the need to protect the company and its employees from tax or legal penalties.Knowing the risk involved usually encourages employees to be transparent about their remote work plans. However, in addition to non-compliance risks, some employers feel remote work opens the door for increased cybersecurity attacks and misuse of company resources. This has led 60% of employers to institute employee monitoring in 2023, with the majority believing it helped boost productivity.There are both good reasons and negative effects of employee monitoring systems. It’s up to SMB leaders to decide the lengths they’ll go to prevent putting the company at risk, and how well they communicate such changes with employees.

2. Be clear about remote work policies

A remote work policy should clearly lay out specifics about what is and is not allowed when employees are not required to report to a physical office. This includes who is eligible to work remotely, where they are allowed to work, and for how long. Since certain states and countries have tax and immigration laws, it’s important to know the differences and ramifications of each.

Furthermore, as a remote-friendly workplace, it’s also necessary to define expectations regarding meeting attendance, work deadlines, and response time. When a company is dispersed among several locations and time zones, it’s essential everyone is available during the established working hours.

3. Streamline remote work approvals

Make requests for remote work or paid time off streamlined so employees can easily request and receive prompt notification of approval. Use technology to automate these types of operational functions and provide reports showing how much remote work or paid time off an employee is requesting every year.

Also, maintain consistent communication to clear up any misunderstandings and/or answer questions employees may have about the remote work policy. By demonstrating transparency, it empowers employees to have more control over their schedules and be upfront with their travel plans.

4. Build a culture of transparency

Employee monitoring, social media updates, and everyday employee interactions can all expose secret travel. When companies experience a surge of “hush trips” among employees, it’s a good time to assess the company culture.  Employees who don’t disclose their work locations may feel shamed about their decisions rather than celebrated.

When in line with workplace policies, sharing remote work destinations can be an enticing recruiting tool for job candidates. Modern employees today want a company culture which supports work-life balance through flexible work setups without any feelings of associated guilt.

5. Collaborate with a PEO partner

Remote work is in high demand as a company benefit, but there must be parameters in place to ensure everyone is protected. “Hush trips” have called more attention on workers traveling between states and countries, and the audits for non-compliance are likely to increase which could cause a strain for SMBs.

Working with a PEO partner like ExtensisHR offers premium benefits to employees and monitors compliance as laws and the workforce change. Each HR solution is customized to meet specific needs and policies with the implementation of mobile-first technology to:

  • Consolidate workflows
  • Reduce compliance risk
  • Synchronize goals and performance
  • Improve retention
  • And more

Our HR experts can help you highlight your company’s unique offerings and develop clearly defined policies to benefit all. To learn more about how our comprehensive HR solution can support your goals, contact ExtensisHR today.

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