Compliance procedures are often overlooked — something you’ll get to later when you’ve tackled everything else on your growing list of priorities.

But did you know non-compliance costs more than twice the cost of maintaining or meeting compliance requirements? “Later” isn’t an option.

For many companies, the pandemic has made this all too clear…

Mounting challenges

During periods of disruption, new risks can appear quickly, and existing risks can materialise into much bigger problems. For compliance, COVID-19 has created an entirely new set of challenges and responsibilities.

Along with the personal and professional challenges of working remotely, there are also economic impacts to consider. Across the world, the pandemic has triggered extensive government action — including the Coronavirus Aid in the US and the Job Retention Scheme in the UK — to prop up job markets.

Although these schemes are a welcome relief for many organisations wanting to retain their staff, they’ve also created an extra layer of regulation and additional compliance hoops to think about. Combined with all the other changes happening in the business world at the moment, both HR and administration teams have had their work cut out.

Changing processes

For one, the pandemic has opened up a can of worms when it comes to employment law. The unprecedented and swift shift to remote working has sparked abrupt operational changes for businesses and raised many questions surrounding compliance.

Can you demand that all employees work from home or must you have office space available for them if they choose to come in? And what happens if employees ask to work from another location such as their home country? What kind of tax, social security, employment and data protection implications does this have for your business?

Then there’s also the issue of job security to contend with. How do you decide (fairly) who gets laid off if you need to make staffing cuts? Can you place them on temporary leave, or do you need to make redundancies? If you’re operating across multiple countries, compliance in this area becomes even more complicated and will depend on employment laws and the government support available in that location.

Local health and safety regulations will also come into play here. Do the current social distancing rules in that jurisdiction allow you to have everyone working in the office? What’s the process if someone in your company contracts COVID-19? Who do you have to inform, and do you still need to pay them their regular salary?

Securing systems

Since lockdown and the rise of remote working, organisations have also become increasingly reliant on technology to allow operations to continue as (almost) normal. As a result, HR teams have had to accelerate their digital transformation strategies to meet the surge in demand for computing equipment and video conferencing platforms.

But who is responsible for funding and maintaining these tools and systems? Do you have to finance the digital equipment or internet workers need to be able to do their jobs from home? Or can you let staff use personal devices for work purposes?

The shift towards home working has also forced many businesses to review the way they store, access and maintain their data and applications. Data must be held in a secure way to meet data protection regulations in the countries you operate. But it must also be easily accessible (to those with permission to view it) to ensure efficient operations.

Keeping compliance under control

Compliance might not be a top priority with everything else that’s going on. But ‘winging it’ will only cost you further down the line.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way businesses operate in the short term, and some of these impacts — such as the rise of remote working — are likely to extend far beyond the current crisis.

To ensure any changes (whether short or long term) land clearly without confusion, you need to continuously review and improve your processes and systems. And although it’s challenging to pull together and create an action plan during a crisis, you MUST have your eye on governance at all times to keep compliance risks (both old or new) under control and ensure you remain operational.

Struggling to stay on top of compliance? As an international PEO, we smooth out the complexities associated with international employment and guarantee seamless compliance so that you can continue your global expansion journey — even when faced with new challenges. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.