In part 1 of this international focus we looked at some of the opportunities for business services professionals overseas – and why spending some of your career in another country can be hugely beneficial. In this second part of a two-part series, we take a detailed look at relocating – in this example to Asia where there are an increasing number and variety of business services roles on offer*. We provide you with our lowdown on all the facts you need to know to make a smooth and successful move to this exciting part of the world.

Relocation packages: Asia

Every offer will differ, subject to the firm’s discretion, but the most common offers include:
  • Relocation package: tends to include an economy flight (usually one-way), accommodation in a serviced apartment for the first few weeks (usually 4 weeks) and a capped amount (often accessible through the provision of receipts) in order to relocate your personal belongings. It is rare for employers to provide flights to relocate a partner and family, but this will depend on firm policy and the individual’s circumstances.
  • Local contract: once relocated to Asia you will be on a local contract as opposed to an ‘expat package’, meaning all expenses are paid and controlled yourself out of your wage.
  • Relocation: most firms will pose conditions on the relocation package with the most common being:
    • a claw back provision if you leave the firm within a specified time frame; and,
    • temporary accommodation only being available for the full period offered if you are actively seeking alternate accommodation.
  • Annual leave: Firms vary in what they will offer but it is common to receive between 15-22 days annually depending on the firm and level. Most firms will ensure an internationally comparable number of days for those relocating (18-22 days). It is also worth noting that there are 17 public holidays in Hong Kong and 11 in Singapore.
  • Health / Dental: Most firms will offer health and dental cover (at a senior level this can sometimes cover your partner as well, but this is not standard).
  • Bonuses: These are usually discretionary and we have seen these being paid at between 0.5-4 months’ bonus depending on firm, level and performance (1-2 months is most common). Some firms still work on a 13-month basis and so have a guaranteed one-month bonus.
  • Saturdays: Some employment contracts will include the provision to work on Saturdays as standard wording. However, at the majority of firms we work with in Hong Kong and Singapore, this would be an occasional occurrence (as with anywhere in the world).
  • Maternity leave: This will be a firm policy and so will not be covered in your paperwork. By law, employers in Hong Kong are required to provide 10 weeks’ paid maternity leave to employees who have been employed for 40 weeks. In Singapore, an eligible employee is entitled to be absent for four weeks immediately before and 12 weeks immediately after having a baby, totalling 16 weeks. However, policies will vary firm to firm.  In recent years we have seen more professionals taking six months off for maternity leave (negotiated independently at the time).

Getting a visa

  • Hong Kong: it remains commonplace when we are briefed for firms to be interested in a shortlist of candidates from the Greater China region and internally. It is still a market that is reasonably easy for international professionals to look at.
  • Singapore: in recent years, more restrictions have been imposed by the Ministry of Manpower requiring a certain ratio of expats to Singaporeans in any business, and requirements to look locally first before extending the search for talent to expats. We certainly do still recruit people into the Singapore market, although it now tends to be Manager and above.

Visa application process

  • Once you have secured a role: your new employer will manage the application process for you. Once you formally accept the offer, the firm will contact you directly with the application forms.
  • The application process: this will usually take 4-6 weeks though can take longer - after which you can apply for a dependent visa for your spouse and children (under 18 for HK or under 21 for Singapore).
  • In Hong Kong: a dependant visa will enable your spouse and children to study or work while in Hong Kong. This dependant visa is granted for the same period as your work visa.
  • For Singapore: an Employment Pass holder and S Pass holders with a fixed monthly salary of at least $4,000 is eligible to apply for Dependant’s Passes for your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age.

Renting a home

The rental market and prices in Asia usually mean that your rent is a reasonably high percentage of your salary.  It is good to remember that other costs will be lower than what you’re used to.  It is good to do some research as you think about the move to look at the sorts of area people live and the properties available. As part of this you might do some broader research about what it’s like to work in HK / Singapore on many of the useful expat sites available (see further information below).

For more information

Employment practices: Hong Kong - Singapore - Visa applications Hong Kong - Singapore - Rentals: Hong Kong - Singapore - For those of you that may feel a little daunted by the list above, please don’t forget that we are at hand to help you through the process. Contact Rebecca Ellis at Totum or Graham Seldon at Seldon Rosser, and we will happily provide you with advice on the growing international opportunities we can offer and guide you through the logistics of making a success of your international move. * We can also provide guidance on moving to other parts of the world – just let us know where you might be interested in relocating to and we will do our best to help. We do recruit in Australia, but due to changes made to visas in 2017, it has become more difficult for professional services professionals (and many other professions) to obtain employer sponsorship of a visa. If, however, you have a strong personal reason to be in Australia and are planning the move regardless, or, are travelling here on a working holiday visa, we are still able to assist, so please get in touch.