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When you operate internationally, the balance between global policies and local requirements is a delicate one. But when it comes to international compliance on health and safety, fire or even legal standards, there are some very good reasons why your HR documents have to be localised:
International compliance means making sure your organisation adheres to the local laws and regulations within each territory. You might be bang-up-to-date on UK rules on employment benefits, equality, minimum wage, overtime, etc., but do you know if these apply to every country that your business operates in? A key example here is your holiday policy. In some countries it’s fine to require employees to take their holiday within the year or lose it completely, while the same policy is illegal elsewhere. Similarly, even within the EU there are countries with very specific requirements regarding the qualifications of the person responsible for safety. Ignore them at your peril.
In order to build a culture of international compliance within your company, it has to integrate naturally with the local culture of your employees. For example, some workers are more than happy with user-led health and safety training via e-learning. On the other hand, employees from other countries expect a classroom environment and an instructor to lead them. Localising your training content gives you a far greater chance of employees retaining the lessons you want to convey.
Different countries have varying requirements when it comes to the format of international HR compliance documentation. In France, for example, the law dictates that risk assessments must be understood by all staff. Even if all your French employees speak the Queen’s English, it seems like a pretty significant risk to hope that this remains the same forever.
Even when using the native language is not a legal requirement, it makes much more sense to convey your compliance policies using terms and references that your local employees fully understand and appreciate.
If you would like to learn more about how we can localise your HR documentation, get in touch with one of our project managers to see how we could help.