What Does It All Mean for Your Business?
As you can see, India’s labor laws are quite extensive, and they’re quite protective over the employee. This means that establishing your business in India carries heavy weight regarding employee classifications and workers’ rights. Failing to adhere and comply with theses rules, regulations, and laws could spell disaster for your venture.
Now, let’s move on to another Middle Eastern country: the UAE. In the UAE, labor laws are just as important as they are in India. The United Arab Emirates has a massive workforce population that contains more than 7 million foreign workers who come from outside of the country. Employed by more than 250,000 organizations, this massive international workforce is protected under UAE’s labor laws. Most recently, “The UAE has ratified nine ILO conventions related to protecting the fundamental rights of foreign workers and is also an active member of the Arab Labor Organization. In 2012, the UAE was elected to serve on a 3-year term to the United Nations Human Rights Council and has since been elected to a 2nd term.”
Wait, Who Enforces These Laws?
In the UAE, there is an extensive bureaucratic system designed to enforce their domestic and international labor laws. For instance, “The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization requires prospective workers to sign a standard employment offer in their home country that is in turn filed with the ministry before the issuance of a work permit.”
From there, “The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization has a large body of labor inspectors that conduct random inspections every day, to ensure that businesses are following and complying with all known labor laws and requirements."
Now, these are 2 of the largest economies in the Middle East, so it’s easy to see just why their labor laws and employee classification requirements are so developed and comprehensive. But now, let’s move into a new region.
Classifications of Asia
In Asia, things are quite similar to the ways in which employees are classified in the US or in the EU. Generally, countries and businesses recognize full-time classification, part-time classification, fixed-term classification, and independent contractors. This is important to consider, because many of today’s businesses end up pursuing other opportunities in Asia, whether it be production, manufacturing, researching, distribution, etc.
Understanding how Asian countries classify their workers will be critical toward ensuring your compliance.
In most Asian countries, it is generally accepted that full-time workers work at least 35 hours per week. Many of these jobs are essentially permanent, and they come along with yearly salary or hourly wages. In addition, several countries throughout Asia provide good protections for employees of this status.
From there, part-time employees work less than 35 hours per week in Asia.
They’re given just about the same protections and benefits as full-time employees, and most of them also hold permanent positions within an organization, just like their full-time counterparts.
After full-time and part-time employees, we can move into fixed-term and independent contractors. Fixed-term employees are essentially hired only for a specific amount of time. They could be hired for certain projects, to fill a gap in a team, to cover an employee on leave, etc. Typically, these positions are contract-based that explicitly state the duration of the engagement. While it is rare, countries like Malaysia actually offer some statutory protections. However, if one were to hire a fixed-term employee in South Korea, that worker wouldn’t be eligible for employee protections.
Asia’s Gig Economy
Like anywhere else in the world, independent contractors are not permanent employees of a particular business or organization. Instead, they are essentially self-employed individuals who are not given protections by any type of state government within Asia, which is fairly similar to most other places in the world.
Independent contractors negotiate their rates on their own behalf and they’re responsible for filing their own taxes, making social contributions, and reporting their income to the appropriate government income authorities. Asia’s freelance economy is effectively booming, and there are always millions of freelancers available for work, many of which go on to be contracted out by foreign companies and international businesses.
What Does it All Mean for Your Business?
For any business looking to establish itself in Asia or simply wanting to do business in Asia, hiring workers is going to be critically important. Because Asia’s workforce is structured similarly to that of the US and the EU, the justifications for classifying an employee as a full-time employee, a part-time employee, a fixed-term employee, or an independent contractor are much the same for all 3 regions. So, what exactly is the business impact of choosing one of these classifications over the other?
When it comes down to it, the major business impact that comes along with hiring an employee or an independent contractor for your business deals with payments and relationships. Sure, we mentioned behavioral control as one of the major categories that businesses should consider when making the decision between an employee and an independent contractor, but that’s just a small percentage of the impact. It really boils down to how much you’re willing to pay, and how much of a relationship you’re willing to have. But this isn’t to say that it doesn’t vary from case to case.
Remember, all businesses are different, and oftentimes, independent contractors end up maintaining long-standing and productive relationships with a selection of clients.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that hiring an independent contractor results in some sort of awkward, cold relationship, and hiring an employee results in bringing your workforce together as a loving family. It simply means that the fundamental differences between payments and relationships make the largest impact on a business.
In the US, businesses are responsible for withholding federal income tax, social security tax, Medicaid tax, and unemployment tax on all wages paid to their employees. This essentially means that a business would pay a portion of these taxes every year to the federal government, while also withholding some of that money from your employee paychecks every pay period. Depending on the country in Asia, this is also true.
But what about the more emotional aspect of classifying an employee?
In the US, EU, and certain countries in Asia, it’s important to remember that most employees are protected by statutory laws. Independent contractors, on the other hand, aren’t privy to the same protections. This means that a business’ relationship with an independent contractor can be a bit more flexible in terms of how they proceed in purchasing their services or enlisting their assistance on a given project.