A global employer must ensure that its recruiting and hiring methods comply with local laws of each country and are not discriminatory. But with the vast disparity in employment laws across borders, this can be easier said than done.
So what’s a vigilant multinational employer to do when it comes to job advertisements, interview questions and preemployment screening measures abroad? Here are some key takeaways from the recruiting and hiring laws of various countries around the globe.
When an organization is advertising vacancies in an overseas location, it should take into account that each country has its own laws regarding the language to be included in these job postings. For instance, France’s employment laws require job advertisements to be in French.
Meanwhile, in Italy, not only is discrimination related to sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief, secular belief, race and ethnic origin prohibited in job advertisements, but if a job ad directly or indirectly discriminates on one of these grounds, an applicant suffering discrimination is entitled to compensation awarded by the courts, based on the concrete damage suffered, with no upper limit.
On the other end of the spectrum, Singapore does not have any statutory requirements with respect to advertising job vacancies. Instead, employers are to follow guidelines issued by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices. However, the guidelines are not legally enforceable.
Interviewing Job Applicants
The types of questions that are permitted during the interview phase vary widely. Most notably, some countries are very protective of job applicants.
For instance, Austrian pregnant women are not obligated to answer questions truthfully regarding their pregnancy during the selection process. Job applicants also are not required to answer truthfully about their religion, political views, trade union membership or sexual orientation. In addition, job applicants have no legal obligation to reply truthfully to questions about their criminal record or credit history, unless trust and loyalty are essential criteria for the job.
Similarly, German employers cannot ask questions relating to the following areas:
- Previous convictions (where not recorded in a Criminal Records Bureau check, which employers may request where the nature of the job warrants); or
- Trade union membership.
If asked, job applicants are entitled to answer such prohibited questions falsely and the employer has no right at a later time to contest an employment contract if it discovers that an answer was false.
However, in Venezuela there are no restrictions on seeking information on an applicant’s family situation.
Global employers must do their research on whether they can conduct certain preemployment screening measures on job applicants because each country has its own rules and requirements with respect to medical examinations and drug tests.
For instance, South Africa prohibits the medical testing of job applicants unless this is required or permitted by legislation or is permissible based on various factors, including the inherent requirements of the job and medical facts.
And Canadian employers that intend to use preemployment testing in Canada – such as aptitude tests and medical examinations (including drug and alcohol testing) – must ensure that there is a legitimate business purpose for these tests and that the tests reveal no information in addition to what is related to the legitimate business purpose. Most forms of drug and alcohol testing in Canada, before or during employment, are generally considered to be discriminatory and intrusive when it comes to privacy rights.
Likewise, in England, drug testing of employees is highly unusual and typically only occurs when the job entails a health and safety risk.
However, in some other countries employers have much more freedom to conduct preemployment screening of job applicants. For example, in Mexico, there are almost no restrictions to prevent employers from requesting documentation and on confirming information provided by the applicant regarding matters such as his or her financial, educational, employment or drug screening history, medical condition or family situation.
In Indonesia and Japan, employees are required to undergo a medical examination on recruitment assessing their health in order to determine their appropriate work assignment.
What’s the biggest hiring challenge abroad facing your company? Let us know by leaving a comment below.