Understanding and going above and beyond what is legally required for in-country compensation and benefits will give you the edge over other in-country employers when you place staff overseas.
A couple of months ago, Fianna Fáil (The Republican Party in Ireland) proposed the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill. Currently, mothers are entitled to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave followed by 16 weeks unpaid, whilst fathers can take off 2 weeks. The only flexibility in this is if the mother dies.
This new Bill seeks to equalise the time that mothers and fathers can take off work to spend with their newborns. When she proposed it, Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin said, “This will be of significant benefit to families…In 2015 48% of fathers felt that they were not doing enough caring. This Bill will facilitate greater equality insofar as it allows both parents to share rearing responsibilities”.
Will it pass?
The Bill is in the early stages, but is currently unopposed by the Government. However, in 2015 the UK implemented a similar scheme entitled ‘Shared Parental Leave’. In June 2018 research revealed that the uptake of SPL was just 1% of eligible parents. This begs the question as to whether the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill in Ireland will be deemed worthy of implementing, if it is so largely unused elsewhere.
What makes my company desirable?
We believe that the key is choice. By offering employees choice, they can make their own decisions as to what they do with their time and their leave allocation. It may transpire that they do not wish to utilise the offerings available to them, but they will undoubtedly appreciate the option being there for them. This is something to bear in mind when creating your compensation and benefits package.
Going above and beyond what is legally required and what is commonplace in similar businesses to your own is what will give you the edge over other employers. It may be that most employees opt not to take advantage of a cycle to work initiative, discounted gym membership or flexible working policy – but if they are choosing between two similar job roles of similar salaries, these are the things that will nudge them to choose your job offer over another.
Thus, perhaps the importance is not on whether or not the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill is used by the masses, but rather on whether it exists as a reassuring option for people.
Having a brilliant idea and the money to execute it is one thing. Having the specialized advice and knowledge behind you to make it work is another. When it comes to expanding your company globally, the logistics, practicalities, skill and knowledge required to make it a success can make even the best and most clear idea seem daunting.
The process, albeit lengthy, is imperative. Getting strategic HR advice early on is hugely important, even before you have decided what country or countries you’d like to expand into. Cutting corners or skipping steps may save time and stress in the short term, but will inevitably return to haunt you down the line when cracks start appearing.
Crucial points to consider when expanding your company internationally include, but are not limited to:
What could go wrong?
It quickly becomes apparent that underestimating the task ahead is not an option. Getting this wrong will result in your business being hit with financial and legal. The penalties can be much more than monetary; failure to work within the lines of employment contract law overseas could result in your business being blacklisted in foreign territories, seriously threatening your potential for international success.
Now’s the time
There are many reasons to take the global expansion plunge right now. Brexit is around the corner and the UK’s exodus from the EU is in just 6 months’ time. Many businesses with a UK presence are deciding to go elsewhere in the EU in the face of so much uncertainty. Companies that have already started making this move include the Bank of America, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Unilever.
Additionally, international travel is now becoming easier by the year, meaning that companies that want to go global can travel faster and more cheaply. March saw the first ever direct flights between the UK and Australia, making the world a smaller and more accessible place.
Even countries that traditionally rely on their own natives as workers are opening up to foreign employees. Japan has recently announced that they will be welcoming immigrant workers in a way they never have done before to support their economy.
Where do I start?!
Don’t panic. We know this is a big undertaking, but trust us, you can do it! Help is at hand in the form of global expansion specialists who can guide you through the process from the moment you decide that you want to go international.
You can garner expert knowledge in the following:
Today can be the day you take your company to new heights.
Is it time to re-balance your European workforce? US companies with a European presence will need to consider things carefully as HSBC becomes the first to jump, as a potential no-deal Brexit approaches.
The ability of businesses to understand and plan international HR strategy as part of political and regulatory developments in Europe has become more pressing following HSBC’s announcement to move seven of its European-focussed offices to Paris early next year.
It may only be July, but already it’s been a busy year in the data protection world. Back in May (and during the approaching weeks and months), GDPR dominated headlines the world over, as the EU brought in their new regulation to hand control of their personal data back to the data subjects. GDPR is designed to “harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy and to reshare the way organizations across the region approach data privacy”.
However, it’s not just Europe that wants in on the data protection action this year. Last month the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 was signed into law, which will bear some remarkable similarities to GDPR when it comes into effect on January 1st 2020.
Equivalently to GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act affords residents the right to “be informed about what kinds of personal data companies have collected and why it was collected, the right to request the deletion of personal information, opt out of the sale of personal information, and access the personal information in a readily useable format”.
So, what are the implications of the new law? Businesses in a variety of sectors need to look at their models and examine whether or not they are compliant in their current state. Companies that generate revenue through targeted advertising online need to ensure that the way they have gathered the information is transparent, and that Californian residents can have theirs deleted if they so desire. Companies that gather behavioural data through customers’ usage patterns (such as web browsing) need to ensure that people are aware of the information that is being collected and what it will be used for. Companies that sell data to third parties definitely need to stop and think.
As the name suggests, the California Consumer Privacy Act is not a nationwide law – it is unique to the state of California. Therefore companies that are affected by the legislation also need to work out how they will reformat their business practises; will they reform everything, everywhere to ensure they are legally compliant in California? Or will they find a way to segment Californian residents from the rest of their customer/user base, and treat them as a separate entity?
For California, now is definitely the time for businesses to ensure that all the data they gather, hold and use is in-keeping with the new Privacy Act. But should this just apply to Californians? It certainly seems like we could be reaching a new era of data protection the world over, so there’s no harm in taking some time to audit your company’s practises, regardless of where you are located. A great start is by ensuring that your HR and payroll are secure and that everyone’s information that you hold is safe and legal.
It might seem like a slog to revise your data protection policies, but remember, these new laws are designed to suit a new online climate that previous policy did not account for. Even if you do not reside in an area with one of these new laws, such as the EU or California, every single day your data is collected and used in a whole host of ways. The new legislation we are seeing across the world puts the data subject in control of that, so it’s important you do the same for your employees.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is here. If you've placed people overseas you may need to take action. Is your international business ready?
Here at MCN Global HR, we deal with complex changes to legislation all the time. We’ve applied those skills to our GDPR compliance to ensure that our data and the data we are responsible for is safe, secure and compliant. We've even created an essential GDPR HR Toolkit for international companies looking to take the first steps towards GDPR compliance.
As a leading International HR consultancy, here’s how we are ensuring compliance.
MCN Global HR has a number of services and toolkits all of which can be used to assist you in meeting your statutory GDPR requirements.
MCN Global HR is part of FMP Global. FMP Global (incorporating Eurowage Ltd, FMP Payroll Services Ltd, FMP HR & Payroll Software Ltd, MCN Associates Ltd) are registered with the Data Protection Register (ZA290393/ZA290366/Z1115288/ZA024069), and also are ISO certified (9001/27001/14001/22301).
Read of statement on GDPR compliance. We've got GDPR covered. Have you?
Is it time to consider expanding into Japan? Not only are minds opening to investment and foreign workers, but there is now infrastructure in place to actively help those wishing to do so.
Countries all over the world continually rely on foreign workers and investment to keep industries and infrastructure not only ticking over, but thriving. According to research from 2015, 14% of the United States’ total population comprises of immigrants. It’s 17.6% for Croatia, nearly 28% for Australia, 29% for Switzerland and a huge 64% for Monaco. However, in Japan the number of foreigners amongst the population is just 2%.
But this is set to change. Currently, visas that allow foreigners to settle in Japan are only available for those who are considered ‘highly skilled’ workers, whereas less skilled foreigners are only admitted as students or trainees. However, in June the government announced that it is creating a ‘designated skills’ visa to accept 500,000 new workers by 2025 in sectors including hotels, shipbuilding, nursing, agriculture and construction. This means that ‘gaigin’ (the Japanese word for ‘foreigners’) are now descending fast.
This won’t just impact the economy and the workplace, but also attitudes to foreigners in general. It’s believed that acceptance of foreign labour is slowly growing in Japan, but sadly this has not always been the case. Sakura no Mori hospital and care home north of Tokyo hired its first foreign worker just six years ago (vastly different to NHS England, whereby 21.5% of staff are not British), and wary patients shouted ‘gaigin’ at them to get their attention whilst others didn’t want anything to do with them at all. A recent poll however revealed that 60% of 18-29 year olds now support the idea of admitting more foreign workers.
One of the reasons for the introduction of the new ‘designated skills’ visa is that Japan’s ageing population is creating more jobs than there are people who want them. Many of these are in the care industry, highlighted by the fact that the aforementioned hospital, Sakura no Mori, now has a staff that is made up of 8% foreign workers. Additionally, the approaching 2020 Tokyo Olympics are putting pressure on hotels, farms and construction sites as preparation for the event is underway.
Mr Toshihiro Menju, Managing Director of the Japan Centre for International Exchange, is concerned, stating that, “We are reaching a point where if we don’t start thinking about immigration, then Japan’s future will be in danger”. Unfortunately, attracting enough foreign workers to satisfy this staffing discrepancy may not be easy. Language is likely to be a barrier, as only a few companies in Japan work in English. Another barrier will be business practice and ethics, as those with student and trainee visas are often subject to exploitation, whilst promoting based on seniority rather than merit, and working long hours are the norm in Japan.
Japanese businesses need to adapt, or they will likely fall behind. The good news is that many Japanese people are hopeful, including Hidenori Sakanaka, head of the Japanese Immigration Policy Institute. He believes that more exposure to foreigners is reassuring locals that they can get along with them, and that “with the right policies, we could transform ourselves from the weirdest nation in the world on immigration to a model for how to do it”.
Along a similar vein, last year the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) – leading agencies that assist foreign firms wanting to invest in Japan – opened a Tokyo location to help those wishing to establish a company in Japan with their paperwork, complete with language assistance.
All of the above means that there has never been a better time to consider expanding your company into Japan. Not only are minds opening to immigrants and foreign workers, but there is now infrastructure in place to actively help those wishing to do so. Pair that with world-class international HR support and taking your business to Japan might just be too good an opportunity to pass up.
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