Global HR compliance: Dealing with HR issues within distributed teams

The most common challenges and how to handle them.

Two people on a Zoom call together

With nearly every country having their own set of laws and regulations surrounding labor and employment, managing your distributed team while making sure you’re compliant can be complicated. 

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped matters either.

For example, U.S. legislation such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—and many others being rolled out by governments worldwide—have increased the already mounting pressure on people managers. 

Whether you're an international corporation or a single startup with employees around the world, adeptly providing for your remote team has never been more important. 

Read on to learn all you need to know about global HR compliance and common HR compliance issues faced by remote teams in addition to how HR teams like yours can remain globally compliant. 

What is global HR compliance for distributed teams?

Global HR compliance are the rules and policies that make sure employees of multinational businesses are treated legally and fairly no matter their location.

This means if you have a remote team based in Manila, they should receive the same treatment as other employees working in New York or London.

However, these rules and policies tend to differ from country to country. 

Plus, the ever-changing nature of the global HR industry means these policies can change without warning, making it challenging for people leaders to stay on top of new laws. 

To make matters worse, regulators and employees expect you to implement new laws immediately, and if found non-compliant, your company could face legal problems. 

Let’s go over some of the most common HR compliance issues people leaders face.

What are the most common HR compliance issues?

A 2019 Global Teams study by the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) and Globalization Partners found some of the biggest and most common HR compliance challenges faced by distributed teams include:

  • Collaborating and scheduling work across time zones: Forty-nine percent of the global HR professionals surveyed mentioned collaboration as one of their biggest challenges while another 38% mentioned scheduling work across time zones
  • Different international laws: Sandwiched between these two issues was the everchanging and inefficient nature of international labor and business laws. Forty-four percent of the individuals who participated in the study described the resulting legal red tape as overwhelming. 
  • Cultural differences: Cultural differences such as ‘assertiveness,’ ‘power distance,’ and ‘autonomy’ also ranked high amongst the challenges of managing distributed teams

How can HR teams ensure they follow global compliance?

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To attract and keep the best talent worldwide, you’ll need to navigate these challenges as they arise. 

Here are some tips to ensure your team is on top of global HR compliance: 

Supplement your team with Employer of Record (EOR) services

The EOR services model provides you with a convenient and cost-effective way to add the right employees to your team while reducing your administrative burden. 

Supplementing your HR operations with an EOR not only saves you the stress of setting up a legal entity, but it also establishes an employer-employee relationship with your distributed workforce.

This means they’re legally allowed to handle payroll, creating and terminating employment contracts, benefits, etc. 

EOR services also make sure you comply with all labor and tax laws of any country you plan to hire in so you don’t have to worry about the legal consequences of violating any government regulations. 

Plus, you aren’t blindsided if new employment legislation is passed into law.

Like an EOR, Oyster facilitates cross-border employment on behalf of your company but with the added benefit of being fully automated, self-serve, and free to start. In addition to compliant, local contracts, Oyster manages payroll and benefits for your team around the world, empowering you to truly care for your team members, regardless of their location.

Understand the employment laws for each country

Since employment laws are different from one country to the next, familiarize yourself with the existing laws and what they mean for your hiring process.

For example, European countries require employees to receive at least 20 to 30 days of paid leave annually. Whereas, in Taiwan, employees get paid leave for heading to the altar. 

A clear-cut understanding of your legal expectations as an employer makes it easier for you to fulfill your responsibilities towards your employees. It also reduces the chances of your business falling foul of the labor laws. 

Document your global HR policies

Documenting and communicating everything related to your global HR policies helps reduce confusion and ensures compliance. 

Creating a central repository for your HR processes and team helps you better understand and address any challenges that arise as you scale your team globally. 

Your employees are also clear about your company’s position on issues such as benefits, maternity leave, or off-the-clock work. 

So, once you have a preliminary draft and procedures, launch your global HR policies using these nine steps.  

Leverage tools to help

Lastly, implementing a global HR compliance solution like Oyster is crucial to the success of your compliance framework and systems. 

One immediate benefit is your team is able to create locally compliant contracts quickly and effortlessly. This lets you ramp up hiring speed and provide a seamless onboarding experience for international talent. 

With Oyster, you can streamline the amount of time and number of tools it takes to hire, onboard, and manage employees abroad all while being in the driver’s seat of the employee-employer relationship.

Global HR compliance is difficult, but possible

It’s clear that managing a distributed team is challenging. 

However, the improvement in team collaboration technology and tools means it isn’t impossible. With the right policies and practices in place, you should be able to handle the issues that come with managing talent across different countries.

For helpful tips on how to engage and upskill remote talent, check out What is Upskilling and What Does It Matter for Distributed Teams?

About Oyster

Oyster is a distributed HR platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches or the expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll as well as great local benefits and perks.

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