International pay

November 10, 2016

As last week’s issue noted, many UK universities have, or are considering, international partnerships or campuses (“Overseas campuses can be both meaningful and viable”, Leader, 3 November).

Managing a not-for-profit consortium of 125 UK university and college HR teams, I was pleased that recruitment and retaining the right team made Dunseath and Hall’s top 10 questions that anyone considering setting up abroad should answer (“10 questions to answer before launching a transnational HE venture”, Features).

Last week our consortium held a development day on pay and labour market issues. Here are some of the more detailed learning points on international pay.

Involve HR at the earliest stage. There are too many horror stories of decisions made early without HR involvement that can cause costly employment problems for years.

Do your homework to understand relative pay and reward issues in home and host countries, including taxation. Invest in credible independent research that tracks and monitors these issues and equips you with evidence if your decisions are challenged.

Set clear policies for remuneration and reward. You want any UK staff member assigned overseas to be no better or worse off, but which living costs are you seeking to “top up”? What will you do about currency fluctuations? What plans do you have for repatriating staff?

Finally, don’t reinvent wheels. Get your HR team to use their networks to ask peers how they’ve tackled these issues. They might not want to share salary details but sector colleagues are often happy to talk informally about what they would do differently next time around.

Nicholas Johnston
Chief executive, ECC

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