When you operate across international borders, the legal situation for your company becomes more tangled. There are rules you’ll need to watch on either side of the border. You’ll need to ensure your compliance with the law no matter where you are, which can mean adjusting policies and practices for each new market you enter.
This can be especially difficult for companies operating in North America. Canadian business owners may not realize all of the shifting details of American regulations, and their American counterparts may face a similar situation when they cross into Canada.
With these five best practices, you can improve your international compliance. No matter which side of the border you’re operating on, you’ll be ready to adapt to new laws and regulations wherever you go.
1. Read up on the Legislation
Before you expand into any foreign market, be it Canadian, American, or otherwise, you should familiarize yourself with the regulatory climate. Keep in mind that you may need to look beyond the federal level. In both the US and Canada, for example, states and provinces have at least some say in labour regulations.
It’s also a good idea to keep up with the ongoing changes. Subscribe to local newspapers or legal newsletters that can keep you up to date on proposed legislation and changes being debated or passed in the legislature. This can help you stay up to date and pre-emptively amend your policies.
2. Create a Compliance Plan (and Follow up on It)
It’s never too early or too late to make a compliance plan. Having a process in place for monitoring your compliance and correcting it can save you both time and money. After all, it’s better to make a proactive change than to pay fines and need to change your policies anyway.
Once you’ve created a compliance plan, you’ll need to make sure your employees are executing it. If they’re not, it’s time to ask why. Understand the challenges and make implementing and monitoring compliance as easy as possible.
3. Understand the Relationships Between Your Countries of Operation
Canada and the US are close neighbours and closer trading partners. In fact, the US is Canada’s largest market, and American companies often see Canadian operations as a prime market for their own services and products.
Given the close ties between these two countries, it’s little surprise they have many treaties and regulations governing trade. The most famous was probably NAFTA, which was just replaced in late 2018 with a new trade deal. The two nations also have tax agreements to minimize double-taxation.
They also have agreements about immigration and work permits, which can ease the process.
Be sure to investigate the various agreements governing trade between your home country and any foreign market you plan to enter. This is especially important for Canadian and American companies, but it’s a good rule of thumb no matter where you go.
4. Get Help from the Experts
You won’t know all the laws when you expand your business operations to a new country. Nonetheless, you will be expected to enforce compliance.
It’s difficult to comply with laws when you don’t know they exist or don’t understand the nuance of them. That’s why you should get help from the experts whenever you want to expand or ensure your compliance. A professional employer organization with experience in both the Canadian and American markets can help.
5. Remain Flexible
The regulatory framework is changing all the time. It can sometimes seem overwhelming to keep up. Remaining flexible is one of the best things any business owner can do, whether they’re maintaining compliance in their home country or in several international markets.
Taken together, these best practices will help you implement and maintain compliance, no matter where your business expansions take you.