Hiring Internationally – What Employers Need to Know

October 4th, 2022

With three in four businesses reporting skills shortages, and a record 1.3 million job vacancies in the UK, it’s clear that the ongoing war for talent is a major challenge for many organisations. With such a huge number of firms across a variety of sectors impacted, recruitment teams need to be looking further afield to fill their positions. Encouragingly, international hiring is clearly on the radar of the majority, with our recent webinar, Navigating International Talent, finding that most attendees (79%) were planning to expand their hiring into more countries in the near future.

As many talent acquisition leaders will know, keeping up with the ever-evolving pace of international, national, and local changes can be complicated and sometimes even intimidating. However, it’s critical that employers do exactly this, taking the time to understand country-specific legal requirements and what they mean for their business. Here are some key regulations to be aware of:

International differences: Europe 

Across the globe, there are specific legal obligations that must all be adhered to. However, what is lesser known is that in-region screening solutions are also varied across countries. A good example of this is the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) within Europe, which leave it up to individual countries to determine who can process criminal conviction data. Some countries are significantly more stringent than others – Spain being one of these.

Under Spanish Law, employers need a legal requirement – not legitimate interest – to process a criminal conviction. This nuance in criminal screening requirements across Europe recently came to the fore when the first legal case and fine for undertaking illegal criminal checks was issued this year. As a result of this breach, a €2M fine was handed out to a major global retailer for processing the criminal convictions of its delivery drivers in Spain.

Comparatively, certain countries place all responsibility on the employer to determine whether this check should be conducted. For example, in Germany, employers must determine if personal integrity is indispensable to the specific role before they can then conduct a criminal record check.

Meanwhile, in the UK there are many legal bases for employers to process employees’ criminal convictions. For example, employers may seek to help prevent or detect unlawful acts, help protect the public against dishonesty, and help prevent fraud. The UK Government has made it relatively simple to determine which criminal check you can give your staff and a simple survey is even available to help firms know which check is appropriate.

Mitigating international hiring risks

Here’s what hiring teams can do to help minimise risks and prevent your firm from incurring any unexpected fines:

  1. Consult work councils and trade unions: When setting up a global screening programme, consulting with local work councils and trade unions can also be valuable. Going back to the Spanish GDPR fine mentioned earlier, it was in fact a work council that brought the issue to the attention of authorities.
  2. Map your recruiting data: It’s always a good idea to conduct regular companywide data audits. This process will show what kind of data your organisation collects, for what reason and where it’s being taken from and stored.
  3. Stay up to date with developments: International hiring protocols are already complex, and it’s likely that this trend will continue, with authorities always outlining new regulations. It’s important to stay on top of changes in data protection rules across any country you’re operating in or expanding to.

Safe and Secure Data Transfers

It should be noted that data transfers will be an inevitable element of global hiring, and ensuring that these are safe and effective will be paramount. You must have robust information security and privacy policies in place to ensure that any risks arising from cross-border transfers are minimised.

While data transfers have become increasingly more complex in nature, particularly within the EU and the UK, utilising a trusted global screening partner that has met all the required protocols and meets all best-practice standards required by your business, will prove to be invaluable for hiring teams.

While there are a variety of cross-border challenges to consider here, the UK’s chronic skills shortages alongside dried-up talent pools mean that international hiring is simply a must for those businesses looking to get ahead.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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