09 April 2024

57% of companies offer the same benefits to overseas employees as those in the UK – at risk of not offering the right support

New research, issued today by Towergate Health & Protection, reveals that 57% of companies with overseas employees are opening themselves up to various potential issues by offering the same health and wellbeing support to those working abroad as to those based in the UK. Issues arise as those employees working abroad will generally need, and be entitled to, different support compared to those working in the UK.

Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection, explains: “While on the surface it may seem ‘fair’ to offer everyone the same health and wellbeing support, this is rarely the case. Indeed, as much as it may be an issue if specific benefits are not provided in some countries, it may also cause unintended issues if they are provided.”

Differences by country

Employers need to know about, and comply with, any mandatory legislation regarding the health and wellbeing support they offer in the countries in which their employees are based. Local governing bodies will often stipulate what health and wellbeing support needs to be offered, and what is provided in the UK may not be fit for purpose in other countries and regions. The rules in some countries may bear no resemblance to those in the UK and so it is important for employers to take expert advice.

Differences for those overseas

Those from the UK going to work in other countries may also require different health and wellbeing support from those who originate from that particular country. This may be because local nationals are offered additional benefits by virtue of being born in the country, and those from the UK may not automatically have access to these benefits so employers need to make them available.

Work visas can be revoked

Not offering the right level of health and wellbeing support can have legal consequences, as working visas may be reliant on particular health cover and can be revoked if it is not provided, so it’s vital that employers get this right.

Financial implications

As well as legal implications, there can also be tax implications if overseas employees are over-compensated in terms of benefits. In some countries, such as Germany, employees are taxed to cover their medical care, so may just need ‘top-up’ benefits. So overcompensating an employee can lead to additional and unnecessary tax.  

Fit for purpose

The good news is that 41% of companies with overseas employees do offer them different benefits from those offered in the UK, depending upon the country in which they are based. However, they do still need to make sure that the health and wellbeing support they offer is fit for purpose and the right level for globally mobile employees and for in-country nationals accordingly.  


It is important for companies with employees abroad to benchmark their offering. This should not only be by country or region, but also by sector, as it will help companies to be genuinely competitive in attracting and retaining the right talent.

Sarah Dennis says: “Health and wellbeing support should not be just blanket cover for all employees abroad. It should be carefully tailored to meet employees’ needs based on the countries in which they are working. Employers must make use of in-county expertise to help ensure that they are fully meeting their responsibilities.”