In our last post about the globalization of HR, we discussed the benefits of leveraging a global workforce, how the needs of employees vary by market and the importance of building a strong global employer brand. To continue the global focus, let’s explore other ways HR needs can vary by country and review some of the challenges in administering HR services globally.

Impact of Local Legal Requirements on HR

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to HR, and this is especially true for companies with a global footprint. In order to comply with laws in each of the countries in which a company operates there must first be knowledge and understanding of those laws.

Workplace legislation covers a wide array of topics, but a common area where we see significant variation is leave policies, such as sick leave, parental leave and vacation time. While some countries have no standards on the minimum number of mandatory paid vacation days, other countries such as France, the United Kingdom and Sweden require as many as 28 days of paid leave. In addition to vacation time, there is the issue of paid parental leave (maternity/paternity). Here too we see a wide range of policies, with certain countries only requiring job security and unpaid leave and others like Germany and France providing 14 to 15 weeks of leave at full or nearly full pay.

There are also differences in the roles and functions of unions, as well as regulations on healthcare benefits—which can not only vary by country but evolve overtime. All of these rapidly changing variables mean that a global HR professional not only needs to be aware these policies as they stand currently, but also have a pulse on how they’re expected to change.

Administering HR Services Globally

In addition to understanding the different HR needs in each of a company’s offices around the world, there is the challenge of meeting those needs on a global scale. One of the most challenging HR services to administer across multiple markets is payroll. From budgeting and tracking payroll across various currencies to tracking currency fluctuations and—once again—ensuring regulatory compliance, global payroll is often outsourced to companies such as ADP, who’ve perfected this process.

Similarly, when preparing for potential restructuring events that could lead to a layoff, companies also rely on global outplacement providers that can better serve the needs of each of a company’s offices. For example, a career transition provider that can help meet global outplacement needs is more well suited to scaling globally, while addressing language barriers and meeting the demands of the local job market.

Global HR professionals need to have a strong understanding of the issues affecting each of the offices their company operates, and they need to build a robust support system of HR service providers and vendors that can grow with the company.

As global economies continue to overlap, and companies enter new markets, implementing HR policies across all borders and around the world will become commonplace. In order to thrive in a global market—and help their employees thrive as well—companies and their HR managers need the support of specialists and uniquely qualified HR service providers to implement a truly global HR offering.

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