Annual Report 2022/Story: Ensuring the best fit: International hires and contractors

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In this story, we focus on our work of building a solid legal foundation for hiring consultants from other countries who can support Wikimedia Sverige's activities. As our work becomes increasingly international, we sometimes need expertise that is not available in our country.

To ensure that we can hire people internationally within a reasonable timeframe, we've had to look at new types of tools and get expert help.

Since a couple years before, Wikimedia Sverige has been working with a person in the UK, who has been focusing on the international work with GLAMs and the UN that today is part of our efforts to become an international hub for content partnerships. The research done previously made it clear that the easiest way to hire international talent is on a contractor basis, as employing them directly would require us to adapt to the relevant legislation of the country in question. We had previously used contracts that we developed ourselves and later adjusted. They have served us well, but all the adjustments were made ad hoc; already when Brexit happened there was a need for more substantial changes and clarifications of the content of the contracts.

In 2022, as we needed to hire more international talent for our work with the hub, we realized we had to develop a completely new template and professionalize the contract we used for contractor. Areas which needed improvement included making it clear that the new team members were contractors, not employees, clarifying who was responsible for VAT and social security contributions and ensuring that the GDPR requirements were met. We also needed a contract that could be adapted relatively easily for use outside the EU.

We already had a relationship with a law firm since our earlier work with bequeathed funds. We contacted them again, asking for support in developing a contract that we could use as a template when hiring EU-based contractors. We also got advice on how this contract could be adapted for non-EU-based contractors as well as on what kind of adjustments would be needed to make the contract compatible with the legal requirements of the contractor's home country. The templates we made were in Swedish, so we used a translation agency to produce a certified English translation of the contract. Throughout the year, we were able to use the template to hire four consultants in two EU countries and the UK.

However, entering into this type of contractor agreement requires that the contractor has their own company that can be the counterparty in the contract. That wasn't an option for our last contractor. We then researched different platforms where we could make contracts with international freelancers, and we finally picked Upwork, which is used by the Wikimedia Foundation. That way we could hire a person – who had previously collaborated with us – based in Cameroon to work on a specific hub activity.

The years's work on these two tracks has built a solid foundation for Wikimedia Sverige's future needs for international contractors, but also for future Wikipedians in Residence who could possibly be hired directly by the hub. We also hope that the contract template can be useful for other EU-based Wikimedia organizations as a basis they can adapt if they are looking at including international staff in their activities.