Global Remote Work: An Overview

Jun 2, 2021 | Global

This blog post provides an overview of remote work issues in Canada, Italy, and Peru.

Canada

Working Remotely: Is a Work Permit Required?

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, “work,” for which a foreign national must obtain a valid work permit, is defined broadly as “an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.” This broad definition of work signals the Canadian government’s intention to ensure that Canadian employers hire Canadians and permanent residents first. However, long-distance work, conducted via telephone or internet, that is performed by a temporary resident for an employer who is located outside Canada and who is being remunerated from outside Canada, is not considered to be work for which a Canadian work permit is required.

Possible Taxation Implications of Remote Work

Notably, as a caution, even in situations where a foreign worker is not required to obtain a work permit to work remotely in Canada, work conducted remotely while in Canada may expose both the employer and employee to Canadian tax obligations. This is because tax implications are often driven by the location in which the work is physically performed.

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Italy

Italy does not have any specific provision regarding remote work carried out by foreign visitors.

From a strict legal point of view, however, it appears that even if an individual works for clients outside Italy, if he or she is in Italy without a work visa (for tourism or business), that person is still working and therefore would be violating the scope of the visa or authorization to enter (if a non-visa national).

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Peru

With respect to working remotely in Peru, there are several aspects to bear in mind.

Once the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Peru on March 6, 2020, a “mandatory social immobilization” of the population and several restrictions were decreed in the following days.

The Peruvian government declared a State of National Emergency, as well as a declaration of Sanitary Emergency, which established the temporary closure of the borders. At present, these declarations remain in force, although Peruvian borders were opened months ago, with some restrictions.

Since March 2020, employers were authorized to decide whether to implement remote work policies for those positions where it was compatible. Public and private sector employers were encouraged and authorized to modify the place of provision of services of all of their workers to implement remote work, which is set out in the framework of the Sanitary Emergency.

“Remote work” is characterized by the provision of certain services by workers physically present in their home or place of home isolation, using any means or mechanism that makes it possible to carry out the work outside the workplace, provided that the nature of the labor permits it.

Currently, with already more than a year having elapsed since the beginning of the State of Emergency, and the need to continue remote work to avoid the further spread of Covid-19 while the process of vaccination is advancing, it is important to review how various companies have implemented remote work, its consequences, and applicable rules to facilitate it. Everything points to the possibility that remote work could be implemented permanently for some positions, where feasible. 

Peru does not have any specific immigration provision regarding remote work carried out by foreign employees or foreign visitors. The only reference that can be found, and that might be applied by analogy to this scenario, is established in D.U. N° 026-2020, which refers to remote work for dependent workers prevented from entering the country by the provisions of the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the framework of Covid-19, who can perform remote work from where they are. Presumably, this provision, issued from a labor point of view, has been thought mainly for national employees and not for foreign workers necessarily, and less for their visa processes and their renewals. This seems even more the case since from March 2020, MIGRACIONES requires the physical presence of the applicant in Peru for visa purposes, either for in-country processing post-arrival or visa processing of renewals. The other modality used to obtain work permits, which includes a consular phase, is not operating.

So, from a legal point of view, it could be the case that even though a foreign individual could be working for their clients outside Peru, they would still be working, and if they were to enter Peru without a work visa (for tourism or business), this would violate the scope of the required visa (if the individual is a non-visa foreign national worker, strictly speaking).

It is also important to mention that any worker is subject to the rules of the country where they work. This applies to Social Security’ and tax regulations also. Specific provisions to determine these aspects for employment and immigration purposes in Peru, because working remotely in a country may have consequences both for the individual and for the company by which they are eventually employed.

In Peru, there is no visa category yet that allows employees of overseas companies who remain employed outside Peruvian jurisdiction to work remotely in Peru without the need to obtain a standard work permit.

An employee of any overseas company working in Peru in a local company or client must hold either a temporary or resident appointed worker immigration status.

Foreign employees who continue working for their overseas employer and are visiting Peru, where, for example, they are stuck in Peruvian territory due to travel restrictions or public health emergencies, according to Peruvian immigration rules, should retain a temporary business immigration status/visa as provided at their Peruvian consulate abroad or granted when they entered Peru (visa waiver), because it is understood that they are in the country to perform certain business activities.

Likewise, there are no visitor rules yet that explicitly permit temporary remote working, such as, for example, when the employee of a foreign company cannot leave the territory due to health or other emergencies.

Contact your WR attorney for advice and help in specific situations.

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