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My company is based in the UK but one of their offices is in an eastern european country, which also happens to be my home country. I unofficially asked if it was possible for me to be transferred there but was told that I would then be making less than half of my current salary. Few weeks after my boss gave me permission to work from home I.. started working from home, in my home country. But now they want me to visit the office here with two coworkers to give training.I couldn't decline it because I have previously told my boss I wanted to see the office here.

I could fly to UK just to meet with the coworker and fly back but that feels like taking it too far. Should I just come clean deal with the consequences?

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    You may be creating legal problems for your employer. Are they paying all the taxes, and following all the employment laws, for employing you to work in your home country? – Patricia Shanahan May 16 '18 at 21:44
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    @PatriciaShanahan And he is not paying taxes in the country he is working in. – paparazzo May 16 '18 at 22:20
  • Home office will have a detailed record of your coming and goings, at some point you may be challenged as to where you actually are. Assuming you are a EU citizen, you may be in trouble in two years time when you have to prove you have been living in the UK. – Diego Sánchez May 17 '18 at 15:45
  • Is your home country in the EU? – Andrew Leach May 17 '18 at 17:30
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This is a bad idea for several reasons:

  1. Lying is bad in and off itself for both ethical and practical reasons that I hope I shouldn't have to explain.

  2. Previously you were getting paid extra because you lived in an expensive area (London, according to your profile). Now you are lying to abuse your employer's generosity in offsetting the high cost of living in London.

  3. You're presumably getting paid on your UK bank account, meaning you're paying UK taxes and social security. You probably also have a UK pension, as that is mandatory for all UK employees as of a few months ago. This means you're probably not paying taxes or social security in the country you're living in, which could give you a lot of problems down the line as it may appear you're committing fraud (which you kind of are). How are you going to fill in your tax form?

  4. Your employer is required to keep certain records regarding their employees, as well as establish their legality to work in the UK. You are register to be living in the UK but actually work in a different country. As with the previous bullet point, this may cause significant legal problems for your employer down the line as it appears they may be committing fraud (e.g. I presume you're no longer registered at any city council).

  5. Brexit will complicate things even more.

  6. Expect to be fired on the spot should you be found out, and don't rule out legal actions either.

There is no easy way out of this situation. Coming clean is the best course of action. Announcing that you will be moving to your come country "soon" and pretend that the last period didn't happen might be a suitable "middle ground" between doing the right thing and your current actions.

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    2. is not a matter of living in London, but rather paying UK market appropriate wage. This isn't really an abuse of generosity. Wages are never given (or raised) out of philanthropical generosity, they are an mutually agred upon prince. If OP's company were paying more wage to an employee living in London compared to another (UK) employee living outside of London, that would be an incredibly questionable practice. – Flater May 17 '18 at 14:05
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    3. heavily depends on legislation. This can vary per country, but many countries define an amount of time spent in the country. E.g. in Belgium, you need to live in Belgium for 6 months (183+ days) out of the year, in order to be safe in terms of tax fraud. Legally, OP could actually work from his home country for a few months without being in trouble (for example, an extended stay with relatives) with the law (he may of course still get in trouble with his employer directly, but not for tax fraud reasons) – Flater May 17 '18 at 14:08
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    @Carpetsmoker: Because if they did, especially for remote workers, that disadvantages those living in expensive regions for no reason other than where they live (which, again, is irrelevant for remote workers as far as the company is concerned) since a company would then naturally seek out lower wage employees. I can't imagine that this is an acceptable business tactic, I'm interested in seeing proof of its existence. Wages should be paid based on work delivered, not just the lifestyle an employee chooses to lead. – Flater May 17 '18 at 14:15
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    @Carpetsmoker I think the point is that where you choose to live is your own choice, not your employer's. If you choose to live in London with the same salary as someone in a cheaper location, you'll have less budget for luxuries. Conversely, does your scenario mean that someone who moves to London from a cheaper place should automatically get a raise to accommodate their increased cost of living? I also don't see where Flater is suggesting any lawbreaking. – Cronax May 17 '18 at 15:04
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    @Flater I'm surprised your question has garnered so much discussion. IME after being involved in maybe 300+ hiring decisions across about a dozen employers, it's totally standard practice for salaries to be different in different locations (ie a "Developer I" is paid $60k in upstate New York but $80k in New York City and $85k in Los Angeles.) I've never seen or heard anyone question this before. – dwizum May 17 '18 at 17:34
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Number one rule in the workplace, at least for me, is: "Never Lie." Play with information however much you want, but if that sounds suspicious for anybody, that could easily hurt your career.

I guess you should eventually say what you have been doing over this period. If your results have been in line with what has been expected from you, that is a great argument for you to defend your current "home office" condition. If your training sessions are infrequent and will require you to travel rarely, and if the pay difference outweighs the costs of flying, then go for it!

But once again, I believe the best scenario is always to disclose your situation to your manager.

  • from what I understand It's not about performance but fairness. Its not like I become a worse coder when I cross imaginary lines. But I disagree with their logic, I think performance should be the sole metric – makaroni May 16 '18 at 20:39
  • True, I completely agree with you. Having been a home office player myself, I found out that my results were rarely tied to being physically present in places. Whenever that was a need, I moved closer to where the important people were. – Rafael Magalhães May 16 '18 at 20:43
  • I you can, somehow, benchmark your performance with people that are physically present and clearly display no difference, that strengthens your argument. – Rafael Magalhães May 16 '18 at 20:45
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    You were getting paid extra because you lived in an expensive area @makaroni (London, according to your profile). Now you are lying to abuse your employer's generosity in offsetting the high cost of living in London. If I would find out I would fire you on the spot, no matter how good your coding skills are. – Martin Tournoij May 16 '18 at 21:56
  • Carpetsmoker has a point, indeed. Still, in my opinion, in the long run, the best outcome in this situation is achieved by not lying. Maybe you can go back to London and never talk about this period, but if asked, do your best not to lie. – Rafael Magalhães May 16 '18 at 22:04
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Do you actually know that you aren't allowed to work from home (abroad)? I used to work at a company that permitted working from home and it didn't play any role whether you were in Spain, Poland or Germany. I actually had colleagues who worked for our branch although they were residents of other countries. I also had plenty of colleagues who spent some of their home office abroad. Which is why, if I were you, I would first make sure I know the answer to this question. The situation you are in doesn't need to be a problem.

As far as I understand your text, you asked your boss about transfer, not about moving somewhere else while staying in your current job.

The only possible problem I see here are taxes. European tax law is a complex topic, but it's linked to residence. So living in Eastern Europe and working in the UK can have some consequences for you, which you should assess before making this decision.

With the training I see two solutions:

  • you flying back
  • telling your boss you are visiting your family in Eastern Europe and don't need flights. How risky this is depends on whether your living in Eastern Europe is really unacceptable, so as I say I would start with clarifying that.

Some of the commentators here commit a mistake. Living in one EU country and working in another is legal. Of course you are obliged to pay additional taxes in some situations. But otherwise it's not illegal by any means.

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    It is absolutely an issue to lie about your country of residence to an employer. They participate in all sorts of governmental interactions, or mandated programs, based on your country of residence. It's one thing for an employer to knowingly have employees in multiple countries and set itself up for that, it's totally a different matter for an employee to go rogue and live in a different country without their employer's knowledge or consent. See @Carpetsmoker's answer regarding pension, employment tax, income tax, healthcare, etc. etc. – dwizum May 17 '18 at 17:25
  • @dwizum Show me where OP writes that he lied to his employer. I don't see it in his post. – BigMadAndy May 17 '18 at 17:37
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    You asked me to clarify where he lied to his employer. The title of the question says he lied. Not sure what else you're looking for me to say about that or how I am responsible to clarify that he lied. Also, yes - I agree - working in a different country than your employer is not a crime, but it IS a crime to do so without the employer's knowledge (which is clearly the case here) because you're essentially committing tax fraud. – dwizum May 17 '18 at 17:53
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    Yes I do. Again, I agree it isn't inherently a problem to live in a different country than your employer, but it DOES cause issues to do so without your employer's consent, since you're not paying appropriate taxes, pay into the wrong social security program, have healthcare coverage paid for in the wrong country, etc. If the employer knew where he resided, they could work to resolve these issues. But they don't, so they can't. At this point we're both just repeating ourselves, I don't think it makes sense to continue doing so in comments. – dwizum May 17 '18 at 18:03
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    Have you actually read anything I've said, or are you just paying attention to part of it in order to have a reason to argue? If your employer knows what you're doing - and is appropriately accounting for it - life is good! No problem. If they don't (which is the issue here) - and they're not - then there's a problem. You don't seem to be understanding both sides of my point, or how the employer's knowledge of the country of residence plays a role. I'm not sure how I can make it any more plain. – dwizum May 17 '18 at 18:07

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