Competition law also applies to HR/personal departments. Would it be worth knowing what are the wach-outs in industry conversations, eg. on the compensation grid?
More often than not, competition law can be seen as an area focusing around sales, marketing, occasionally PR or finance. There is rarely a positive answer to the question of whether you would see a space for illegal competition in the field of personal policy. It is worth exploring though the evolving trend of antitrust law enforcement in the area of recruitment. Increasingly, authorities prosecute such infringements of antitrust law which do not require agreement but are based on the exchange of certain types of information. Between competitors, the exchange of sensitive information (for example, prices, margins, costs, customers) is considered to be a serious violation of antitrust law.
How can an unlawful exchange of information between competitors in the HR area look like? In practice, HR staff should be vigilant in the topics related to human resource information they share – even –with companies that are seemingly are not their competitors. In fact, companies can operate in different product or service markets – some produce food, other chemical products of everyday use. Therefore, companies are not competitors in product market. But they compete with each other on the recruitment market, struggling to acquire talents from the same ' recruitment market '. It can therefore be quite conceivable that a completely innocent industry meeting, as part of associations or similar event, and exchange of information in their course on remuneration indicators may raise serious antitrust issues, even though the companies involved in benchmarking operate in different industries.
The United States Department of Justice, together with the Federal Committee on The trade has issued guidelines for the HR area, available here:
- Agree with other companies level or salary components (including benefits) of employees, specific group or type of work;
- Agree with other companies forms of employment of employees, other elements relevant from the employee's perspective
- Agree with other companies non-solicitation of each other's employees or establish a ban to hire their employees;
- Exchange of information between companies on salary levels, remuneration components, etc.
Do these rule apply by analogy in the EU and Poland? Of course, not with such precision as in the states, but local authorities may be interested in a new, relatively interesting area of violations... It is certainly worth knowing about them and prepare accordingly.
Feel free to contact us if you want to know more about creating a secure personal policy in light of competition law.