What You Need to Know About Hiring and Firing in Asia Pacific: Expert Q&A

Asian HR manager talking to an employee about performance

Asia Pacific (APAC), a sprawling region known for its diverse cultures, emerging economies and dynamic landscapes, is on the brink of significant growth and transformation. Home to more than half of the world’s population and comprising nations as diverse as Japan, China, India, Australia and more, APAC offers a rich mosaic of opportunities as well as challenges for businesses looking to establish a presence in this vibrant market.

As governments throughout APAC prioritize economic development, enact progressive policies and invest in infrastructure enhancements, the region becomes increasingly appealing to international companies seeking expansion. From the vibrant metropolises of Tokyo and Singapore to the picturesque landscapes of Mumbai and Sydney, APAC provides a diverse range of prospects for growth and innovation.

headshot of Moon Suen







In this special blog post, we sit down with Moon Suen, Executive Director, Client Solutions APAC/Middle East. Moon’s extensive insights and regional expertise shed light on the unique aspects of hiring and termination procedures within APAC, laying the foundation for an insightful discussion.

To start, why do you think international companies are increasingly drawn to APAC for hiring?

Moon Suen: Organizations from around the world are turning to the APAC region for hiring due to its expansive talent pool, educational excellence, multilingual proficiency, cultural acumen, convenient time zone alignment, strategic trade routes and an innovative business environment. 

APAC offers a diverse and skilled workforce, linguistic diversity for effective global communication, cultural understanding and logistical advantages through trade agreements and well developed supply chain networks. The region’s vibrant ecosystem also fosters innovation, making it an attractive destination for companies seeking to adapt swiftly and contribute to cutting-edge developments.

Can you highlight the key differences in hiring processes across various countries in the APAC region?

Moon Suen: APAC is a region with diverse hiring processes, influenced by each country’s unique regulations and cultural nuances. 

While there might be overarching principles that overlap, it’s crucial to recognize that individual countries maintain distinct regulatory frameworks. For instance, each country maintains specific requirements related to employment contracts, recruitment channels, local labor laws, paid time off, bonuses, remote work regulations, benefits, data protection, etc. 

Regarding cultural nuances, each country within the APAC region has its distinct characteristics. For instance, in China, there’s a strong emphasis on Guanxi (relationships), playing a crucial role in business interactions. In Australia and New Zealand, there’s a significant focus on work-life balance and ensuring a good fit within the corporate culture.

Businesses expanding in APAC must navigate these differences to effectively establish their operations.

Regarding firing or termination procedures, what are some guidelines organizations need to be aware of in APAC?

Moon Suen: Termination procedures in APAC exhibit significant variations. Different countries have their own set of regulations governing terminations, including valid reasons, notice periods, documentation requirements, garden leave and potential legal implications. 

It’s essential for businesses to understand and comply with the local laws of each country where they operate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Awareness of these differences is key to managing employee terminations effectively.

How do cultural factors influence hiring and firing practices in APAC?

Moon Suen: APAC, known for its cultural diversity, encompasses nations with varying languages, traditions, religions, customs and business practices. 

Cultural factors play a crucial role in recruitment and team management practices. Countries in the region may exhibit differences in communication styles, with some being high-context cultures valuing implicit communication. Japan and South Korea are a few examples of high context cultures emphasizing hierarchy and indirect communication, impacting recruitment and termination. Other countries may lean towards low-context cultures emphasizing direct communication. This is often seen in Singapore and Australia. 

Religion can also impact workplace practices in APAC, with examples including Friday often being a day of rest in Muslim-majority countries and time off for festivals like Diwali and Christmas. Employers may look at adopting flexible policies to accommodate religious observances, such as adjusting schedules and granting time off. This can foster a more inclusive workplace environment.

Understanding these nuances is vital, as cultural aspects can influence hiring strategies, termination approaches and overall employee expectations.

What should organizations consider when it comes to offering bonuses in APAC?

Moon Suen: The practice of providing a 13th-month bonus is common and even required in many countries across APAC. This additional bonus, often known as an annual bonus, year-end bonus or sometimes referred to as the 13th-month salary, is a form of extra compensation given to employees. The specific expectations, including the amount and distribution timing, can vary between countries and even within different industries.

Apart from the 13th-month bonus, various other types of bonuses are also common in APAC, depending on local employment practices and regulations. Performance bonuses, festival bonuses and profit-sharing bonuses are examples of additional incentives provided by some employers in the region. These bonuses are often designed to recognize and reward employees for their contributions, boost morale and align with cultural or festive occasions.

What about statutory and supplemental benefits?

Moon Suen: When administering benefits in APAC, organizations should note the variation in statutory benefits across countries and identify what their contribution liabilities are as an employer. 

Supplemental benefits, such as travel stipends in Japan, are common in APAC. Organizations should take the time to identify what supplemental benefits are most likely to resonate with their workforce, as this can vary across countries and demographics. It’s also important to conduct thorough research on local regulations and tax implications, as offering certain benefits can impact workers’ tax situations. Understanding tax perspectives ensures that benefits are viewed positively rather than as a burden.

What advice would you offer to organizations aiming to establish a resilient, compliant workforce in APAC?

Moon Suen: Organizations looking to establish a resilient workforce in APAC should conduct thorough research on each country’s labor laws and cultural norms. Understanding the local context is crucial for successful long-term operations in the region. Recruitment challenges may vary and seeking expert guidance can be beneficial. 

Collaborating with an experienced Employer of Record (EOR) such as GoGlobal can simplify HR processes, ensure compliance with local regulation and, ultimately, contribute to building a resilient and adaptable workforce in the diverse landscape of APAC.

Check out a recording of our webinar ‘From Singapore to Spain and Beyond: How to Hire and Fire Around the World’. or contact us to learn more about hiring and firing practices around the world. You can also download our new guide: Building a Resilient Workforce in Asia Pacific Guide.