I work for a company in Germany with many group companies across the EU. Often projects have to be conducted in one of these group companies in another country, so I have been asked to resign from my current position and then to apply to one of these group companies to work for several months on a project, and to continue doing this multiple times moving forward.

I believe the company is working in good faith, and while they have the ability to delegate me to one of these organizations rather than having me resign and then join the group companies they have told me this is a better strategic choice. While I can refuse, the company is strongly pushing for me being reassigned in this way.

I am not worried about my CV, as all these companies are part of the same group and can count as a single employer even if the specific companies are different, but I want to make sure there aren't any hidden drawbacks from changing positions this way.

What personal/bureaucratic consequences can there be for changing companies and countries several times over the course of a few years?

  • Hey user, and welcome to The Workplace! Could you clarify your question a bit? You work for Company A. Company A can assign you to projects in subsidiaries B, C, D, or E all in other countries than Company A on a project-basis (several months). You say you trust the company, and aren't worried about your CV, so what is your concern? As far as legal/tax consequences, I'm afraid that's a bit out of our scope here at the workplace, but if you could edit your question to focus on what you're concerned about with your 'profile' we may be able to help. Thanks in advance! – jmac Mar 31 '14 at 8:03
  • Basically, yes. I work for a company A and will work for company B, or C for a short time. They are both registered and physically located in other countries, but they all belong to the main company. In "profile" I meant a possible bureaucratic paper trail, which might affect me in the future if someone looks up any data about my past employment status. – user18226 Mar 31 '14 at 8:24
  • Thanks for the clarification! I'm going to make a significant edit to try to include this information and make it a bit more clear what you're asking to prevent the question from being closed, and because Stephan gave such a great answer. If you think I missed the point or can otherwise improve it, please make an edit of your own! Thanks in advance. – jmac Mar 31 '14 at 8:47
  • Depending on your company, you may want to clarify up front how this would impact your seniority for later promotion/loyalty bonus/other perks.

  • Switching countries and companies is a pain when you do your taxes. And yes, your tax authorities may take a special interest in you, so make sure you get competent advice and do everything correctly. However, taxes will also be harder if you don't switch companies but work in a foreign country for extended periods of time.

  • Sometimes countries posit a minimum residency requirement for you to be able to draw on your social security contributions in retirement, e.g., having worked in the country at least x years. This is relevant if you plan ahead so far. If you don't meet the minimum requirements, you may be able to get your contributions back. Again, this may also be relevant if you don't switch companies.

  • If you are a EU citizen, work permits will (at least) not be a problem. If you come from a third country, things may be harder.

Overall, everything may be easier on you from a bureaucracy point of view if you can just get "loaned" ("entsandt") by your current employer, but I don't really see any dealbreakers.

It may be helpful if you could understand better what exactly the "strategic reasons" are that make this more attractive to your employer. Is it a headcount issue for your manager or department? (If so, you might even have a problem coming back, if the headcount does not plan ahead.)

  • Hey Stephan, I absolutely love this answer and it explained the question a lot more clearly as a result. I've made a significant edit to the question which I don't think affects your answer at all, but you may want to give it another check just in case. Thanks again for the great answer! – jmac Mar 31 '14 at 8:55
  • @jmac: thanks for the heads-up (and the edit to the Q) - I checked, looks good. – Stephan Kolassa Mar 31 '14 at 8:59
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    Additionally, at least in Germany, we have a concept similar to contract work called 'Zeitvertrag'. Companies however aren't allowed to employ you under one of these for more than 2 years, so to get around this limitation, it's common to move employees around within a group. It's not exactly beneficial to the employee, though, as technically after two years they would need to be granted an unlimited contract with better protection. – CMW Mar 31 '14 at 9:01
  • @CMW, sounds like you two have deciphered the real reason and it's related to German labor laws. So this guy is a contract worker, and to prevent having him have stricter protections as a contractor they want him to swap countries 'just in case'. This sounds like a poor idea and like the company is not acting in good faith as the asker thinks they are. Can you think of any good-faith reason they would do this? – jmac Mar 31 '14 at 9:06
  • It's not so much swapping countries as swapping companies (if working under a Zeitvertrag). This is perfectly legal even within Germany. And it's not exactly bad faith. Part of the time this happens because Company A can't hire any permanent positions at the time (for budget reasons, say). So they pass them on but keep the talent within the group. It can be bad faith, if the company just wants to avoid more commitment. But I wouldn't hazard a guess as to how many of these swaps are on what side of good/bad. – CMW Mar 31 '14 at 9:13

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