Permits Foundation welcomes dialogue with policy makers and legislators. Our research and information on best practice regulations has been used by a number of countries when developing business-related migration policy and work permit regulations. If you have any questions, please contact us and we will be pleased to speak to one of your representatives.
What the evidence tells us:
When highly skilled employees relocate internationally, it is the experience of the whole family that can make or break the assignment. The question of whether the partner can work in the host country is often a major factor in deciding whether to accept the job offer. This affects men and women of all nationalities working all over the world. And it impacts employers in both the private and public (diplomatic and inter-governmental) sectors. Our 2022 research showed that:
- Where a host country allows partners to work:
- 91% of employers said that their organisation’s ability to attract people with desired qualifications and skills increased.
- 80% said that the host country’s reputation as a fair, equal opportunity society as well as the country’s reputation for doing business, increased.
- 94% of global mobility professionals said that family members should be authorised to work in the host country directly upon recognition of their dependant status.
- For most , the definition of family members should be broad, covering married and non-married partners and (for half of respondents) working age children.
- Partners of international employees are themselves highly educated, 88% held a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- 53% of partners were not in employment in the host country, 84% of those not employed wanted to be.
- 26% of partner respondents were considering leaving the host country due to work access restrictions.
- in 44% of organisations, employees had returned home early from an international assignment in the past 3 years due to concerns about the partner’s employment.
- 67% of partners cited the need for a dual-income as important or very important.
- 61% of global mobility professionals said that dual career and partner issues were becoming more important to their organisation.
Best international practice
Over 30 countries now allow accompanying spouses and partners to work freely during an assignment. Many of them recognise unmarried partners and also allow children to work. In addition, some countries have taken a step in this direction with an easier process to get a work permit linked to a specific employer. Our World Map gives a global overview and more detailed summaries of the regulations.
Assessing the impact
The numbers of business-related transfers are small, making it easy for governments to consider concessions. Here are some figures to help you assess the numbers affected in your country.
- Internationally assigned staff represent only about 1-2% of total manpower, on average, across a wide range of sectors and countries.
- Only 50-65% of international assignees are accompanied by family members.
Taken together, these figures indicate that the number of partners wanting to work is likely to be extremely small, less than one per cent of the total workforce. Moreover, they often bring complementary skills and seek temporary, part-time or self-employed project work that fits their lifestyle, without any negative impact on the longer-term job market. Giving them permission to work does not guarantee a job. They have to compete with qualified citizens who speak the language, know the culture and have locally-recognised qualifications. An employer wants the best person for the job. If that happens to be the partner of an expatriate, this will give most benefit to the company and economy of the country.