If your organization operates overseas, or plans to do so, achieving compliance is a must.
When businesses operate overseas, global compliance presents a never-ending challenge. While some of the underlying principles of HR-related laws and regulations don't vary much from country to country, exceptions exist. For example, employees in India receive 26 weeks of maternity leave, per the Times of India, yet employees with two or more children receive just 12 weeks. In France, businesses that employ more than 50 employees must provide their employees with the "right to disconnect" and ignore email communications outside of regular business hours, according to The Guardian. As reported by CSO Online, another example is when the General Data Protection Regulation takes effect in May 2018, which will require firms operating in Europe to provide detailed reporting about how and why data they process personal data.
Entering Foreign Markets Requires Preperation
Welcome to the global economy, where businesses face an ever-changing and increasingly onerous sea of HR-related laws and compliance regulations. So how do organizations with a global presence do business overseas without breaking the law?
Here are six ways your business can approach the challenge of achieving global compliance.
1. Develop an Understanding of Each Country's Laws and Regulations in Advance
Before your firm enters a new market, ensure your team has a solid grasp of the HR-related laws and regulations that await you. Start with a list of the laws that your organization complies with in your home market, then identify the corresponding law(s) in the new market. Next, identify the laws that only exist in the foreign market. If you'd prefer to rely upon a local labor expert, this is also a good time to identify in-country experts, such as employment attorneys or HR consultants to help prepare your organization to comply.
2. Revisit Your Employee Handbook and HR Policies and Procedures
Similar to the approach used to identify the laws in foreign markets, identify the elements of your employee handbook and related policies and procedures that apply to the foreign market. Then, make changes relevant to each market. While English remains the primary language of business, assess whether your firm is under any obligation to translate its policies and procedures into a country's national language. Investing in translation might also help reaffirm your organization's commitment to compliance with regulators and law enforcement.
3. Don't Forget About Employee Education and Training
Meeting global compliance expectations requires that employees understand their roles and responsibilities. In order to deliver effective training, again, consider translating materials to your employees' native language. Also, take the time to review your materials for images that might alienate foreign workers, especially if those images could offend your workers' cultural or religious sensibilities.
4. Revisit the Employee Disciplinary Process
In the event that an employee violates a policy or allegedly commits an illegal act, make sure that your organization has the legal ground to discipline the employee. In France, for example, the employee disciplinary process has several important phases. If companies fail to follow these guidelines, it could result in the reinstatement of a terminated employee.
5. Audit Your Ability to Comply
Without periodic follow-up and analysis, compliance-related policies and procedures often stop functioning as designed — so conduct periodic audits of your organization's ability to comply. Take the time to review press releases and court cases for changes in how foreign regulators interpret and enforce laws and regulations, then adapt your organization's approach accordingly.
6. Cultivate Agility
Maintaining global compliance often hinges on your organization's ability to anticipate then act on changes to existing laws and regulations as well as plan for the introduction of new measures. Dedicate someone on your team to monitor and report changes in the regulatory environment in the overseas markets your organization operates.
If your organization operates overseas, or plans to do so, achieving compliance is a must. Not all countries welcome foreign competitors with open arms, and even those that do expect compliance with their laws and regulations. While each foreign market presents unique challenges, a logical, step-by-step approach to understanding local and regulations and a willingness to engage local subject-matter experts should both help your organization grow and maintain a compliant regulatory state.