International People Matters: HR and Employment Law


Managing an international workforce often has an additional layer of considerations. Here are some of the recurring ones we have seen:


  1. Corporate culture and values v. local culture/laws/customs

Maintaining a fairly consistent corporate culture in jurisdictions where the culture is not aligned can lead to conflicts. Appreciating that this can be an issue is a first step. Deciding which one overrides is secondary. This is particularly the case with inclusion/diversity and equal opportunities.


  1. Consistency in HR and Employment law documents

Often, a company staff handbook is simply rolled out across jurisdictions. This leads to concepts being redundant in jurisdictions where they do not apply, language being used that is not readily understood and a risk to employers being bound by policies and procedures that are not required.


  1. Dismissals

The regime that governs dismissals varies considerably between jurisdictions and tends to be very specific. Even where the applicable law is light and seemingly employer friendly, the practice by the courts and the custom in the country can be very different. Local expertise (rather than text book) is therefore key to getting the right advice.


  1. Directors

The obligations on directors is also specific to each jurisdiction and so is their potential exposure should they fail to meet obligations. A lawful act in one jurisdiction can amount to a criminal offence in another.


  1. Understanding advice from lawyers/other professional advisers

Advisers have different styles and approaches so unpicking the advice and understanding the risks and then being able to assess those comparatively with other countries can be a real challenge. Often, different questions are being answered than the one asked, different angles are covered and the advice is lengthy and legal. What is missing is the understanding of the local cultures that is underpinning both the question and answer.

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