Human Resources Matters

Where the University relies on local employees who are based outside the United States to assist in research or academic programs, the University typically must comply with local human resources and payroll rules and regulations. These requirements vary from country to country, and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Failure to comply with local laws and regulations can have severe consequences in the form of tax penalties, fines, reputational damage, litigation by local employees, and even ejection from the host country.

In addition, individuals based in the U.S. or other countries who travel abroad for even relatively short durations may trigger local income tax filing requirements or social tax obligations in the overseas host country. Without appropriate advance arrangements, overseas activities may even subject the University itself to taxation in the host country.

These pages include some key issues that must be addressed before undertaking a program that involves working overseas by either Columbia or locally-based faculty and staff. 

The goal is to enable you to spot certain key issues, so that you can reach out to appropriate University resources and receive the timely assistance needed to help ensure the success of your initiative.   

With guidance from central administration (in this case the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), the Office of the Controller, and Human Resources), University departments should assess employment laws of the host country and the planned tasks for staff, and anticipate how staffing needs may change during the planned operational period.

Throughout this process, it could be helpful to refer to the What to Ask - HR and Tax tool.

Some operations may need to use one or more options at different stages of implementation, including:

→ Arranging for U.S. faculty and personnel to work abroad and determining the appropriate benefits' package;

→ Hiring local personnel in the host country;

→ Other alternatives.


Related Article: How a US University Can Employ Faculty, Researchers, Administrators and Foreign Locals at an Overseas Program. by Donald C. Dowling, Jr., White & Case

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