The increasing globalisation of the Oil and Gas industry has resulted in the relocation of large numbers of expatriate workers, often accompanied by dependant families, to geographically, environmentally and culturally unfamiliar locations. In many cases, expatriate assignments are seen by the employee as an affirmation of their value to the company, and/or expatriate choice by the employer is based on recognition of previous high performance. While medical issues are usually well handled, the cultural, social, and family adjustment dynamics of the assignment and impact on the employee and dependants are often considered secondary to the work objectives and deliverables, if they are considered at all.

This paper considers several factors critical to the success of an assignment from a health perspective, and the effect these will have on the family and working life. It argues that assignment selection should be an integrated process which examines the suitability of the entire relocating family for the proposed assignment and suggests processes and methodologies to increase the likelihood of completing a successful overseas posting. It lists factors to be considered by the corporate health professional both in terms of the transferee, and in terms of the host country infrastructure.

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