21st Century Employers – Exploring Cross-Border Record Keeping

There is a growing trend for cross-border expansion, merger or acquisition among top-tier businesses as they react to an increasingly global marketplace. When these transactions happen, one of the most important, but often overlooked, factors are people.

Figures from Baker & McKenzie’s 2014 ‘Going Global’ study into cross-border M&A reveal that 1,083 cross-border deals worth $263 billion took place in the first three months of 2014 alone. It also said that human capital was the second most important consideration in 25% of all deals.

Even if a progressive business doesn’t yet have an international presence; all modern employers need to attract the best talent, and should be keen to carry out that search on a broad stage, recruiting out of state, country or even continent.

Data collated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) shows a significant increase in the inflow of people into and between OECD member countries during the last decade. In Australia, for instance, there were 251,000 new permanent residents in 2013, compared with just 123,000 in 2003.

In the United States, the number of new permanent residents confirmed in 2012 was 1.03 million, compared to 703,000 in 2003. Germany saw its population increase by 1.1 million in 2013, compared to 600,000 in 2003.

These are all trends which impact the makeup of any workforce, so 21st Century employers need to remain cognisant of the fact that increased labour mobility brings with it challenges, as well as the obvious advantages.

Employment Law

Hiring new employees in a foreign jurisdiction, filling international vacancies, or moving staff intra-company across borders can have far-reaching implications for employment law.

One of the most important aspects to be aware of is the way that laws relating to record-keeping differ across jurisdictions. Employers must give careful consideration to the privacy of employee data, understand the implications of migrating employment records between countries or states and assess the relevance of existing employment contracts.

IR Global has teamed up with Australian employment law expert Jeremy Cousins, principal of Whitehall Workplace Law in Melbourne, to analyse some of the major issues that need to be considered by 21st Century employers and their advisers.

Jeremy has more than 13 years of experience as a dedicated employment and industrial relations lawyer with large internationally-focused commercial law firms. He recently chaired a virtual roundtable of members from the IR Global Employment Group to highlight some differentials in global law where employee record keeping is concerned.

The following discussion involves members from The Netherlands, USA, India and Australia. It serves to emphasise the importance of employment law due diligence to any company with an international mindset.