Global employers considering instituting a company-wide employee emergency assistance fund can encounter some unique challenges. They have to comply with the laws of multiple countries, plus regulatory and tax hurdles. Further, there may be significant differences between each country’s language, culture, or even things such as documentation standards.
These challenges are not unmanageable, however. Two recent examples from Emergency Assistance Foundation’s grants were for employees (one from Belgium and one from Russia) with significant family medical expenses. In both cases, the employees requesting assistance were non-English speakers. Their applications also included receipts and bills in foreign currency. Despite these challenges, EAF was able to quickly translate the documents, communicate to the employees via interpreters, evaluate the applications, and disburse grants in an appropriate currency.
If your international organization is considering an employee disaster and hardship relief fund, it should carefully weigh the additional considerations when operating in a non-U.S. country. These legal, regulatory, and cultural issues can have a deep impact on the success of your fund. Some countries may require specific disclosures relating to employment laws, other may have unique cultural attitudes towards charity which affect both contributions and grant requests. For example, if you have a large employee base in a country that traditionally does not place a high value on charity, it may be more work to promote your fund.
At first glance, global employers may decide against launching an employee emergency assistance fund because of presumed challenges. But employers who partner with EAF need not have such concerns. EAF has both the ability and experience to capably administer employee emergency assistance funds to employees in need worldwide. With the expertise from EAF on hand to assist with these programs, global employers can rest assured of both proper regulatory compliance and robust fund administration.