Europe Labor Laws: Navigating Workforce Regulations

Last updated: 26 September 2023


When you decide to expand your business from the United States into Europe, there are some challenges you could face along the way, and staying compliant with European labor laws is one of them.

Hence, this blog provides a brief outline with examples of the different European approaches when hiring or terminating employees, as well as the importance of understanding the GDPR when dealing with employees in the EU.


European Labor Laws Differentiate Hiring in Europe Compared With the USA


In the United States, “employment at will” is the basis of the employment relationship. In Europe, however, there is no such concept. Employment is primarily structured through formal written contracts that set forth provisions regarding payment and working conditions. Employment contracts also need to be in strict compliance with the EU employment law, which differs per country.

Because employment in Europe is not “at will”, minimum standards for notice prior to termination must exist. The termination process is much longer and more complicated than in the United States, which requires a comprehensive understanding of European Labor Law.

Each European country has its own unique employment laws that could greatly differ from one another. In some European countries, termination without a legally valid reason may be void or could result in large damage awards for unfair discharge.

European labor laws


Employee Privacy Laws: Europe vs the USA


In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect for all companies operating in the EU, no matter the location in which they are based. The GDPR was created in order for employees to have more control over their personal data, and businesses can benefit from a level playing field. This means that the employees’ privacy in Europe is more strictly governed than compared to the USA.

European countries place great importance on the employee’s rights to personal freedom in the workplace. For example, monitoring your employees’ emails and work activity is standard for the USA, but that is not the case for Europe. Monitoring employees’ computers and work phones is not illegal in Europe, but there are certain formalities to keep in mind.

If an employer is to monitor the digital behavior of their employees, the employer must clearly state that such monitoring activities will take place, and only after the agreement and awareness of the employee can the employer exercise this right. If the employer fails to be transparent on how they will monitor their employees and for what purpose – a violation of the GDPR will occur. More about GDPR fines can be found here


More information


EuroDev can support you with hiring and terminating actions when you want to expand your business in Europe. Our HR Outsourcing services ensure compliance with each European country’s labor laws and successful handling of the intricacies of managing employees.

In case you would like to have more information about European labor laws, do not hesitate to connect with Monique Ramondt-Sanders VP of Human Resource Outsourcing at EuroDev.

Furthermore, explore all EuroDev HR Outsourcing services.

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