An organization's employee benefits package is critical to successful long-term talent management, regardless of the company, industry, or location. Balancing competitive operations with cost-effectiveness is fundamental to a company's continued success.
These efforts are often further complicated for multinational organizations that need to be aware of and comply with local laws and regulations on employee benefits in multiple countries and locales. These legally required benefits, also called statutory benefits, can vary subtly or significantly depending on geographic location. Additionally, the changes can be numerous from year to year, complicating efforts to stay informed on what’s required as an employer in multiple countries.
Complying with statutory benefits makes international talent management a delicate balancing act that involves adjusting to changing local laws and legislation on a regional or country-specific basis. Some international organizations may decide to surpass the legally required minimum to optimize the attraction and retention of employees. Regardless, when an organization operates in several regions worldwide, staying up to date with the local employee benefits requirements for every location is cumbersome. Even for the most seasoned HR practitioners, this can make global human resource management a costly and time-consuming endeavor — without the right tools, that is.
Mercer's Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines (WBEG)
Mercer's WBEG report contains detailed information on employee benefits practices and regulations in 76 countries. The annual report offers five regional versions encompassing the Americas, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Western Europe, and Central and Eastern Europe. Mercer has local reviewers in each location who periodically review the content and bring local knowledge and awareness of current developments.
WBEG is optimal for companies established in various markets or companies preparing to move into new markets. The annual WBEG report provides timely, cost-effective data solutions for countless multinational companies.
When purchased year over year, WBEG provides a quick and thorough reference guide for multinational HR professionals looking to keep up with the constant statutory changes in designated countries. WBEG can also be used to dive deep into the details of any one specific policy or benefit and so much more. View the Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines to see what else the report can provide to your organization.
Top 3 global trends from 2022 WBEG
1. Retirement ages are increasing in several markets.
Around the world, increases in retirement ages are a reflection of people living longer. Traditionally, the retirement age for women is a few years earlier than for men, but the retirement age for women is trending closer to that of men.
In the past, companies set retirement at between 60 and 65 years of age. It is gradually increasing to 65 and above in several markets, especially in the European market. Statutory limits are increasing to 67 for those born after 1957 in Australia, after 1960 in the US, and after 1963 in Germany.
Some countries, like Italy and Portugal, link the retirement age directly to lifespan. These countries are planning to review and adjust retirement age guidelines based on the current mortality rate.
Changes in retirement age affect company policies and pension plans. They will likely influence how companies choose to operate and offer benefits, which impacts employee behavior but is typically not compulsory. In Japan, employers are encouraged and incentivized to keep workers employed to age 70.
2. Parental leave expansions
More and more countries are expanding parental leave coverage to both parents. Where historically the benefit was greater for the mother, now both parents are likely to be guaranteed similar leave benefits.
While Europe has the most robust legislation to support parental leave, Finland, Greece, Ireland, and Japan are some markets that have increased leave for parents over the past year or two. A country's legislation will impact how a company structures its leave policies. As cultural changes are moving toward greater work-life balance, it's expected that this trend will continue to grow as a key driver for attracting and retaining talent.
3. Change to remote/hybrid work structures
Remote and flexible work setups have become standard practice around the globe. Countries like Portugal, Spain, and Mexico have introduced formal legislation to produce guidance and frameworks for companies to operate in this space.
As the lines between work and personal time continue to blur, some countries are expanding remote work opportunities and empowering employees to disconnect when needed.
For example, in Portugal a new law was enacted January 1, 2022 for employers with more than 10 employees, which outlines new penalties for contacting employees outside of work hours and requires that companies must generally allow remote working.
- Employers and employees must agree to remote work and include the terms and conditions in employment contracts.
- Employees can refuse an employer’s request to work remotely but must justify their decision. Employer consent to remote work is not required for parents with children under age eight, as long as their role is compatible with remote work.
- Employers must pay for remote workers’ additional costs for energy usage, internet, and IT.
- Employers must meet face-to-face with remote workers at least once every 60 days.
- Employers must respect remote workers’ privacy and treat them the same as other workers.
Understanding local requirements versus expectations is a critical first step toward recognizing how and why employee benefits differ significantly on a global scale.
Global Employee Benefits and Legislative Data Guidance
HR professionals rely on data from yearly international employee benefits reports to help compile, consolidate, and make sense of these legal disparities and how they affect local workplace policies. These annual reports help organizations avoid legal mishaps, fines, and penalties via comprehensive, country-specific data on legislative requirements and regulations.
Tracking the shifts in social norms that often dictate employee expectations are demanding. When experienced HR professionals are not physically present in every region where an organization is active, one of the most significant challenges is identifying and managing those regulatory differences that are not readily apparent. Even less obvious are the consequences of not complying with market demands.
When dealing with complex corporate operations on a global scale, it becomes apparent that an annually updated, country-by-country multinational benefits guide like WBEG becomes much more than a helpful asset — it becomes a necessity for successful long-term compliance.
View the Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines to see what else the report can provide to your organization. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-286-5302 today!