HR urged to brush up on international law

HR
managers must become more aware of international employment law as the
workforce becomes increasingly globalised.

This
was the message delivered by Eversheds lawyer Ann-Marie Pugh at the legal
practice’s Employers’ Convention 2001 in Brighton last week.

She
said delegates must be more conscious of the cultural differences which exist
in an international workforce.

She
cited the recent McKinsey report, which showed that 90 per cent of the world’s
gross domestic product came from the global market and 60 million staff were
employed by American companies outside the US.

“If
you are not already operating in the international market, you soon will be,”
Pugh said.

Eversheds
claimed the key to business success was developing a good corporate reputation,
which observes local customs. 

A
question and answer session showed a poor grasp of international employment law
among the delegates.

Robbie
Gilbert, head of the Employers’ Forum on Statute and Practice, said afterwards,
“My feeling was that the talk was aimed at employers who are not global players
but are looking to extend their reach into other countries.”

Gilbert
admitted that it was difficult for HR professionals to find a source of
information on international employment law. “The quiz was used to flag up perceptions
that may be wrong.”

Steve
Peace, employee relations adviser for One2one, the mobile phone technology
company, said, “The quiz made me realise how little UK employers know about
international employment law.

“Our
company has taken on people from Germany due to the severe skills shortages we
are experiencing. We’ve also looked at South Africa and South-east Asia –
wherever the talent is.”

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