Top five labour and employment law issues when taking your start-up global

By Ute Krudewagen

Your start-up is off the ground and running, US offer letters and confidentiality agreements have been signed and compliance policies have been implemented. It’s now time to hire your first employee outside the US. This seemingly easy task is often easier said than done. For many emerging companies, the road to a global workforce is paved with potholes. How can you prepare for the Friday afternoon call from a frantic HR manager who wants to hire a salesperson who will go to a competitor if he doesn’t have an offer in his hands by Monday morning? Can you afford to lose the candidate and all the great opportunity that the candidate represents to the business? How do you respond when asked about a sales representative who received an offer three months ago and has since then been working in Brazil, while being paid directly from the US? These issues are part of running an international business; however, with the right preparation and planning, these speed bumps can be levelled before they escalate.

The five issues for growing employers to consider before going global are: doing business and tax considerations, including corporate structure; will you expand by hiring employees, independent contractors, third-party agencies or expatriate employees?; payroll and benefits processes and costs, including withholding on taxes and social charges (similar to social security); employment agreements and policies; and managing the exit strategy — probationary periods, lack of at-will employment, notice periods and severance…

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