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The key to making the most of your assignment abroad

Learn more about what employers can do to best support expat workers and their families.

The key to making the most of your assignment abroad
Photo: michaeljung/Depositphotos

Moving to another country, whether on assignment or independently, can be incredibly rewarding.

Such a move offers the opportunity to experience a different culture, a new city, new people and an alternative working environment.

However, international assignments present a unique set of challenges for the health and well-being of an expatriate and their family, who must cope with the emotional stresses associated with moving overseas.

When 43-year-old Aurélie, a financial services employee, relocated from France to Singapore with her two young daughters, things went well at first.

“The girls were settling in their new school and I felt like I was adjusting to my new role,” she recalls.

However, just two months into her assignment Aurélie learned that her mother had a serious illness, and she began to doubt her decision to move to Singapore.

Get a quote on an Allianz Care international healthcare plan

“I felt guilty about not being there for my mother and father, and that my daughters were not able to spend time with them,” she explains.

“I became increasingly unhappy, feeling isolated from my family and vulnerable.”

Lack of support network

While an ill parent may have triggered Aurélie’s predicament, the difficulty of dealing with any number of challenging situations can be amplified for people working abroad, threatening the success of their overseas assignment.

One of the main stresses for many expatriates is the lack of a support network during a time in their lives when they often need more support than ever.

LEARN MORE: Employer healthcare and support plans from Allianz

Indeed, many of the most common difficulties experienced by expatriates stem from simply adapting to new social and cultural environments while at the same time trying to balance taking care of themselves, their families, and work responsibilities.

Some expatriates can be overwhelmed by the stress of living and working overseas, even without the added complication of a family illness or other difficult situation.

Altogether, these difficulties can leave expatriates and their families more susceptible to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, affecting the employee’s well-being and possibly the success of their assignment.

Left unchecked, these stresses can result in assignment failure and premature repatriation, leading to further upheaval that can affect employees’ professional confidence and self-esteem, and even result in dissatisfaction upon returning to work in their home country.

With so much at stake, employers must consider how they can support their globally mobile employees and manage the risks associated with international assignments from the outset.

Implementing a comprehensive healthcare strategy that protects both the physical and mental well-being of employees can be a first step in helping to mitigate these risks.

Employee Assistance Programmes

Global assistance and wellness programmes help expatriates take positive steps to improve their physical and mental well-being, reducing the impact of stress, poor health and lifestyle choices while living and working overseas.

When Aurélie was considering cutting off her overseas assignment and moving back to France, she was advised by HR to take advantage of the company’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), powered by Allianz Care.

Soon thereafter she was put in touch with a counsellor who helped her come to terms with her feelings and helped her cope more effectively, ultimately saving her and her company from a messy premature repatriation.

Click here to learn more about the Employee Assistance Programme

“It really helped having someone to talk to. I realised that I could still support my mother, but that moving to Singapore was the right decision for my daughters and me,” Aurélie explains.

An EAP helps companies support their employees in work and life abroad by offering a range of 24/7 multilingual support services.

It helps employees and their dependants address a wide range of challenges, from work-related stress and relationship concerns to major life events like births and deaths.

Employees have access to confidential professional counselling – available face-to-face or via phone, video, email and online chat.

In addition, the EAP also offers crisis incident support, legal and financial services, and access to the Allianz Care wellness website.

LEARN MORE: find out which Allianz Care healthcare plans suit you

And expat workers who aren’t part of an employer healthcare plan may want to consider the Expatriate Assistance Programme, powered by Allianz Care.

It offers the same services as those provided to employees and is available to anyone who purchases an individual or family international health insurance plan through Allianz Care.

Whether you’re being sent abroad by your company or venturing out on your own to work in a new country, give yourself the support you deserve by taking advantage of the Expat or Employee Assistance Programmes, powered by Allianz Care.

After all, why should the challenges of everyday life get in the way of enjoying the adventure of a lifetime?

Click here for a quote on an international health insurance plan from Allianz Care

 

Philippe Fassier, Sales Director – Partnership & Affinity Business at Allianz Partners

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Allianz Care.

 

For members

HEALTH INSURANCE

The essential insurance many foreigners in Sweden forget to sign up for

When moving to Sweden, a lot of the paperwork is mercifully simpler than in many places – at least once you arrive. But one crucial insurance can be easily missed, and can end up costing a lot if you fail to apply.

The essential insurance many foreigners in Sweden forget to sign up for
Making sure you sign up for this important insurance could save you thousands of kronor. Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) is responsible for providing a range of benefits and allowances, including sick and disability pay, child allowance, and many other forms of social security. 

In order to receive these benefits, you need to be insured in Sweden. You don’t pay anything for this insurance, but you do need to actively apply to be completely covered.

Some benefits are linked to your employment. Work-based benefits like sick pay, parental benefit, and injury compensation are available to people who work in Sweden – employees, self-employed people, and contractors are all insured for these.

Other benefits are available to everyone legally resident in Sweden, regardless of whether you’re working, but only if you sign up with Försäkringskassan.

This includes child allowance, parental benefit at the basic level, income support for the elderly, and several other benefits. 


You need to register with Försäkringskassan to be eligible for dental care subsidies in Sweden. Photo: Simon Paulin/SvD/TT

One important one is dental care.

You will be eligible to receive medical care in Sweden on the same terms as Swedish citizens as soon as you are registered with the Tax Agency and have a personal identity number, personnummer (non-EU citizens should arrange insurance to cover them before this point).

But for dental care, you need to register with Försäkringskassan in order to be eligible for Sweden’s dental subsidies.

Dental care is free of charge for people under the age of 23. After this age you are required to pay, but are entitled to an annual subsidy depending on your age, as well as high cost protection which means you never pay above a certain amount for dental care in a given year.

So how do you apply?

If you move to Sweden together with a child (aged under 16), the agency should contact you once you have registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and received your personal identity number. 

But for people moving here without children, you need to actively register with the agency – simply having your personnummer is not enough. It is important to do this as soon as possible after the move. Even if none of the benefits are relevant at the time when you move, it’s a key step just in case something unexpected happens.

One reason for that is that registration is not automatic. In fact, the process can take several months, and you are not insured during the waiting time. 


Registration is not automatic, and can take several months. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT

Once you have got either a residence permit or have registered with the Tax Agency, you can register either online at forsakringskassan.se, if you have Swedish BankID, or by sending off a form, which you can find in English here. You will need to provide copies of your permit or, if moving from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, proof that you are no longer covered by social insurance in that country. 

If you are not able to be added to the population register, for example if you cannot prove that your stay will be over a year, you should still apply either online or via the same form, and the agency will check if there are any forms of compensation you may still be eligible for.

When you register with Försäkringskassan, you can also apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) at the same time. The benefit of this is that when you travel within the EU, you will be eligible for the same healthcare at the same prices as local residents. 

If you become eligible for a benefit, for example if you need long-term sickness compensation or are expecting a child, you will need to let the agency know by either filling out a form or using the My Pages section of the website to apply for that compensation.

The exception is the dental subsidy, which you do not need to apply for because everyone is eligible. All you need to do is tell your dentist that you are registered with Försäkringskassan and would like to use your subsidy towards your payment.

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