This article was updated on July 20, 2018.
Background checks and drug tests are important parts of the global talent acquisition process, but countries have differing laws regarding the types of information that employers can request and use when selecting candidates.
For instance, although U.S. employers may be accustomed to requiring drug screenings for applicants and employees, in countries with stricter privacy laws, those tests may not be legal. The laws of some countries may frown on drug testing as an invastion of an individual's privacy. Similarly, stringent privacy laws in some countries limit an employer's ability to run background checks that would be commonplace in the United States.
This variation in laws can make it tricky for HR leaders in multinational firms to create organization-wide policies for recruiting and hiring talent in every location. For HR leaders who want to develop talent acquisition policies that will transfer globally to all of their firm's current and future locations, here are four important guidelines to keep in mind.
1. Know the Rules in Each Location
As your business moves across the globe and opens new locations in new areas, it's imperative to be educated about the laws in each country where you operate. What's legal and proper in the United States will not always fly in other locales, so do your research on the specific rules in each area and make sure you have the means to follow them.
Consider hiring host country managers who have local knowledge of current HR practices. These managers can work to educate headquarters staff about local practices, and together the teams can work to transfer knowledge and practices both ways — from the home country to the new location, or vice versa depending on which practice seems to work better for your business.
2. Put Policies in Writing
Once you understand the local laws, develop written policies that detail your organization's plans for background checks, drug/alcohol tests or other hiring protocols. Your written policies should include the types of testing that will be conducted — if testing is indeed permitted — as well as any disciplinary actions that would be associated with positive drug tests. Your detailed policies should also include information about prevention, counseling and treatment if available in the local area.
3. Allow for Flexibility
If your organization regularly runs drug tests on U.S. employees, but is opening a location in In an area with stricter privacy laws, carefully review your drug and alcohol testing policies and make sure you are only testing for substances that actually have an impact on workplace safety.
Your recruitment and selection process, career management and performance management processes should be similar across the organization's global operations, but there should always be the flexibility to accommodate local laws and local HR trends and practices. For instance, an Indian IT business may have brand recognition in India, simplifying the recruiting process because more accomplished industry executives will seek it out. But the same organization's Australian location may need to implement more robust employer branding and recruiting programs to attract the right talent.
4. Assess Business Values
While following laws is crucial, your core business values must also be figured into the equation. For instance, in some locations, it may be perfectly legal to consider an applicant's credit score in hiring decisions. But if the employee's financial management skills are not pertinent to their job, business values of fairness and second chances may preclude HR leaders from implementing that as a regular part of the hiring process.
Recruiting and hiring employees across the globe can be challenging for any business. But multinational organizations that work to implement global talent acquisition processes across their footprint can simplify the process and enhance their international recruiting efforts.
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