It is not just multinational companies that benefit from translating employee handbooks and workplace policies. National organizations with multilingual workforces also gain when relevant documents are made available in the languages spoken by their workforces.
Benefits include increased employee engagement and ensuring that all employees understand their workplace requirements.
Furthermore, translating employee handbooks and HR policies such as no-harassment, no-retaliation, open-door/ grievance, safety, and general work rules is a matter of the law. Failing to translate employment policies and rules can leave businesses vulnerable to breaking Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: National Origin Discrimination.
In order to enjoy the workforce engagement benefits and abide by the proper legal restrictions, you need to ensure the ultimate accuracy in your HR document translation. A professional translation firm is the most reliable option to fulfill both sides of this equation. Here are the ways in which enlisting professional translation help can benefit in your employee document and HR resources translations.
A Clear Case for Translating HR Policies
Over the past two years, several examples of non-English speaking employees filing successful suits against their employers have highlighted the importance of translating employee handbooks and other HR documentation.
One case last year involved 12 Hispanic employees filing a complaint against Auraria Higher Education Centre for denying them knowledge of the terms and conditions of their employment. In doing so, they claimed the company put them in danger by not providing information in their native Spanish.
After a three-year investigation the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found in favor of the  janitors and mandatory conciliation is now underway in an attempt to resolve the issue. Auraria remains at risk of a federal lawsuit if a resolution is not reached.
Similarly, Spud Seller Inc. of Colorado fell afoul of a lawsuit filed by nine employees claiming that they were repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment by their supervisor. Although the employee handbook included a policy prohibiting this behavior and guidelines for employees to follow should they ever be a victim of such an incident, District Court Judge Marcia S Krieger ruled against Spud Seller Inc. as their policy was not effectively communicated to all staff.
The judge cited there was no evidence that the employee handbook’s policies had been translated to Spanish. Settling the case cost Spud Seller Inc.
$255,000, which could have been avoided with proper HR documentation translation.
Clearly the time, cost, and damage to reputation involved in answering legal complaints by employees can be avoided through ensuring company policies, procedures, and rules are communicated effectively. This is best accomplished when translated into a language that is understood by a company’s workforce.
Effective Multi-Lingual Communication and the Law
Legal experts purport that these rulings send a clear message to companies with multilingual workforces: anti-harassment and other conduct codes for employees must be communicated in the languages represented within the workforce.
To ensure effective communication of a company’s policies and procedures, trained HR translators should be engaged.
Automated machine translation services can still leave businesses open to lawsuits if translated policies and guidelines leave room for misinterpretation by staff. Hiring professionals that can translate both the technical policy terminology and subtle language nuances is a necessity for businesses looking to avoid litigation loopholes.
Along with meeting legal requirements both abroad and at home, translating employee handbooks and other relevant documentation allows all members of your staff to understand their responsibilities and rights when working for you.
This increases employee engagement and staff retention. When weighing the cost vs. benefit of translating HR documents and training manuals, it is clear that the consequences are far too great to be overlooked.