Employing remote international workers can give your business an incredible competitive advantage. Without being confined by borders, you can access the diverse knowledge, skills and unique personalities different parts of the world can offer. While some businesses may be hiring internationally to make their business more competitive, others have had their hand forced by COVID. If you’re paying an employee based outside of your home state or country (or thinking about it), then there are several things you need to consider to remain compliant.
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Have you checked the employment laws of your own country and the country of the prospective employee?
When hiring international staff to work for an Australian company, they will fall under the Australian employment laws. However, when hiring someone in another country, their own employment laws may still apply. For example, if you hire someone from Hong Kong, they will fall under Australian and Hong Kong employment acts. That means you must obey the laws surrounding contracts, termination, payroll, leave and retention of both countries. This isn’t the case for every country so make sure to do your research beforehand. It is critical to ensure you can comply with both sets of laws.
Have you checked the list of Australia tax treaties?
Australia has several double tax agreements or tax treaties with several different countries. These agreements set out which country has the right to tax each type of income an employee earns. This will deem whether the employee must pay tax here and in their home country as well. Find a list of the double tax agreements here. If the country in question doesn’t appear here, you may have to do further research into that nation’s taxation system.
Have you familiarised yourself with the rules around ending employment?
As with things like annual leave and overtime entitlements, each country will have their own laws regarding termination; you will have to ensure you follow Australian and the other country’s rules. Requirements such as length of notice, severance pay and extra perks will differ. For example, workers in Belgium are entitled to paid time off to search for a new job. In Brazil, they have an unusually high severance pay system depending on the cause of termination. Make sure to investigate all the requirements before commencing overseas remote hiring.
Have you created a remote wellbeing plan to help you support overseas employees and include them in your office community?
Only connecting with people through a computer screen can make it difficult to feel part of a community. Remote workers don’t get those ‘watercool chat sessions’ or impromptu after-work drinks so they can struggle with loneliness and not feeling like part of a team. While there are many challenges of remote work lacking human interaction is a big one. As their employer, it is your responsibility to create a specific plan to ensure remote staff aren’t left out. This can be an online trivia game once a week, virtual birthday parties or international holiday celebrations. Whatever it is, make sure they happen regularly and that you consistently check-in with remote employees to monitor their wellbeing.
Have you begun shifting into a “one team, one culture” mindset?
When hiring overseas staff, you are starting the journey to become a global team, so you’ll need to start thinking and talking like an international company. Make sure to sit down and refresh your internal business culture. Your language needs to be inclusive of your international employees and well as your practices. This could include altering your mission, values and goals. Perhaps take on this challenge with some of your employees to gain an international and diverse perspective. This should be done before remote hiring of new overseas employees so they can be welcomed in a globally-thinking company. This can also inform other key things of this checklist such as performance reviews and business culture.
Have you thought of employing a PEO?
A professional employer organisation (PEO) is an HR service that allows employers to access talent worldwide. It won’t only find and recruit overseas employees, it will also take on functions such as payroll, benefits, remuneration, administration, employment taxes, HR guidance and more. Plus, each of these will be conducted according to Australian and their local law. PEOs are extremely helpful for more than just international hiring. Click here to learn more about how PEOs can optimise your business.
Are you utilising international job-seeker websites?
Make sure to put your job advertisement on international webpages. Indeed, Glassdoor and CareerJet are some of the largest online career community platforms with millions of people searching for international jobs they can do from home. Individual countries will also have their own job search websites. Find one in your country of interest and post your job ad there. They may not be specific to remote hiring work searches but many employment-seekers will be intrigued by the idea and keen to learn if it’s right for them.
Have you double-checked their references?
Just because they are overseas, you can’t forget the importance of references checks. Past employers are extremely valuable resources of information about an employee’s conduct, personality and productivity. As you will only meet the prospective employee through online interviews, it can be difficult to gauge how they mesh with business culture or do under pressure. References might be able to help answer these questions. They might also be able to tell you whether the person is in it for the long haul. International remote hiring can be a lengthy and complicated process, so you must make sure to acquire someone who is genuinely planning on sticking around for a while.
Have you planned necessary online training and induction courses?
First impressions are everything. According to Interact, 33% of employees knew whether they would stay with their company long term after their first week there. That means that your training, induction and general introduction to the company must be engaging and inviting. Also make sure all your courses can be done online and that remote staff won’t miss out on any details. In fact, you could give them a tour of the office space to help them visualise the company and feel included. Make the induction personalised to your business and the employee.
Have you scheduled regular work meetings that accommodate all time zones?
Another common challenge international workers face is communication issues and being out of the loop. The best way to solve these issues is by scheduling regular work meetings that all relevant employees can attend. You can use these meetings as time to allocate tasks, check in on progress, answer questions or brainstorm. Just make sure they are regular and they accommodate the time zones in question of the employees.
Are you using globally-available technology?
If you are planning on sending your remote employee a bundle of technology used by your company, then skip this checklist. If you aren’t, then you have to be aware of technology differences based on geography. Some countries won’t favour Apple or Microsoft products, so you may have to adjust practices and technology to accommodate these workers. Similarly, think about any online tools and platforms you use. Are these applications available to all countries? Do some research otherwise you may have to select some different resources for your global team to use.
Have you created a performance review system and check-ins?
More so than local workers, overseas employees will require more feedback on their performance. They will miss out on the little bits of advice or check-ins that staff in the office will receive. To make sure they maintain peak performance, work together to create a review system based on job description, expectations and goals. As remote work is increasing, there are plenty of resources on how to conduct effective online performance reviews. Schedule these reviews more regularly for overseas staff and make the effort to provide unprompted positive feedback and encourage every now and then.
And that’s it!
Well, technically not. There are still plenty of other things you will need to research and prepare before remote hiring overseas employees. But don’t worry we have heaps of other resources that could help, from more about HR technology, to how to keep your remote global team happy, we’ve got you covered!