In-house Employment Lawyers Tackle Global Workforce Management Issues
As multinational companies become more globally integrated, corporate counsel’s work has also become more complex and international in scope. It is no longer always possible to manage legal compliance and contract issues according to the laws of a single jurisdiction, as transactions and relationships touch multiple countries. This is true for employment issues as well as commercial dealings, and members of ORC’s Employment Law & Litigation Group find themselves focusing more and more on global workplace questions.
For example, a topic of conversation at last month’s meeting was how to determine which country’s laws apply to the employment relationship when an employee reports to someone in another country. One member company has attempted to clarify the legal implications of cross-border reporting relationships by giving employees in that situation both a functional manager, who may be located in the headquarters country, and an employment relationship manager in the employee’s home country. The functional manager provides business direction to the employee as well as the first line performance review and merit decisions which are based on the employee’s performance compared with his or her peers. The employment relationship manager takes responsibility for those HR processes mandated by the employee’s local country among other tasks as well as working with the functional manager to support the employee’s overall career needs and goals.
Globalization and the current economic environment have also conspired to create new approaches to deployment of employees. An ELLG member at the meeting noted that his company has avoided some layoffs by offering displaced employees in the U.S. the opportunity to work for the company in other countries where their skills are in short supply. This offer required the employees to resign from the U.S. organization and be reemployed in the new location at local country terms and conditions. The acceptance of an offer from another part of the organization would terminate the employee’s right to severance from the U.S. organization. The company offered some relocation assistance and support services, such as help getting work visas and preparing taxes, but substantially less than what the company would provide to employees on expatriate assignments. For the most part, despite some unfavorable reports in the media, the arrangement was successful in redeploying talent that otherwise might have had to leave the organization.
In partnership with law firm FortneyScott, ORC Worldwide will be bringing global workplace information to in-house counsel and compliance professionals via the Global Workplace Compliance (GWC) Network. The GWC Network’s first webinar, “Redundancy EU Style”, will air September 22. For more information, contact Nita Beecher, +1 212 852 0436