As global mobility professionals seek ways to compensate increasingly diverse expatriate populations, the local-plus approach is gaining in prominence, according to a recent post by ECA. But partner support, for now, has been curiously overlooked as part of the ‘plus’.
The concept of a local-plus package has clear attractions. The assignee receives a salary that is based on the local market rate of the host country, plus additional benefits or allowances that are not typically provided to local nationals (for example, ongoing home housing costs, international schooling fees).
A reasonable compromise
It is seen as a “reasonable compromise between full localisation, which can be difficult to achieve, and the expensive traditional expatriate package”. It also helps to achieve equity between peers (i.e. foreigners and locals) in each host location and – let’s not forget the bottom line – cuts costs for companies. That’s why over 70% of companies using a host-based approach have apparently adopted the local-plus method.
So what are these additional benefits, typically? For now, according to the 2018 Expatriate Salary Management Survey, local-plus packages most commonly include relocation assistance, housing allowances, home leave trips, settling-in allowances. This is where we might gently cough ‘ahem’ in the background. Partner support – not mentioned in any of the linked materials or surveys – could be a vital piece of this jigsaw. Even the post on ECA stresses it is “important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all policy” and that the local-plus may “not be ideal for your entire expatriate population”.
Against the clock
ECA also notes that ‘plus’ elements are not necessarily paid continuously throughout the assignment. The additional benefits are often provided at the start of the assignment to aid the employee with the transition, then phased out as the employee localises. That places a lot of pressure on the in-coming employee (plus partner and possibly family, too) to quickly adjust to life in a host country. You could say they are ‘against the clock’ to integrate from the day they land. Again, we won’t apologise for sticking our hand up at this point, and suggesting that pre- and post-departure partner support would be an extremely valuable additional benefit for any ‘local-plus’ contract.