Recruiting the right staff in Europe

Employer responsibilities for staff in Europe

Your rights and responsibilities as an employer - and your staff's rights and responsibilities - will differ depending on the country you are doing business in.

European employment legislation

Workers throughout the European Economic Area (EEA) are protected by European Union (EU) employment law. In addition, each country will have its own employment regulations covering, for example, employment contracts, industrial action and ending employment.

European employment law covers two main areas:

  • working conditions - eg part-time and fixed-term work
  • informing and consulting workers - eg before collective redundancies

There are also specific laws covering:

  • equal treatment/non-discrimination in the workplace
  • working time and annual leave
  • posted workers
  • employee rights when transferred into another business
  • pregnancy, maternity rights and parental leave
  • social security and pension rights
  • protection of personal data

Unless you have detailed knowledge of employment law in the country you are planning to employ people in, you should obtain advice from local professional advisers.

Read more on EU employment law.

Social security systems in the EEA

In general, EU social security and pension rights apply to:

  • workers who are also nationals of a member state
  • families and survivors of these workers (EU nationals only)
  • students or people undergoing vocational training

Entitlements to holidays, benefits, sick leave and pay and other employee rights and responsibilities differ across the EEA. Each country has its own social security system.

The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is an EU-wide group of business advice partner organisations and offer advice on social security and other business matters.

Find your nearest EEN partner organisation.