Employing on an “at will” basis in Europe

Can my US-headquartered business employ on an “at will” basis in Europe?

When expanding a US-headquartered business to Europe, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences in employment practices and laws. One significant distinction is the absence of the “at-will” employment concept, which is prevalent in the United States. However, whilst it is vital to adhere to European employment laws, this by no means makes termination impossible or even overly onerous.

The employment law experts at Agility EOR can help you navigate situations in which the employer / employee relationship needs to come to an end. We recognize that there are situations where allowing an employee to continue in their role, can be more damaging and costly than termination. Our pragmatic approach gives clients the flexibility to choose when they wish to part company with an employee, and to navigate that in the safest and most cost-effective way.

Adhering to European Employment Laws

Europe is known for its robust employment laws, which prioritize employee rights and provide a high level of job security. These laws vary from country to country, with each nation having its own set of regulations governing employment relationships. The primary objective is to prevent unfair dismissals and protect employees from arbitrary termination.

When hiring employees in Europe, it is crucial for US companies to comply with the labor laws of the specific country where they operate. This requires understanding the local regulations, including hiring practices, employment contracts, and termination procedures. In all of these areas, an Employer of Record service can help.

The team at Agility work in partnership with our clients to ensure their line managers understand the key concepts of compliant European employment, and adhere to proper employment practices that align with local regulations. By doing so, they benefit by avoiding legal repercussions and creating a positive work environment.

Termination with Just Cause

Although European employment laws provide stronger employee protections, it is important to note that termination is possible with just cause. Just cause refers to a valid reason based on the employee’s conduct or performance that justifies termination. Examples of this may include serious misconduct, repeated negligence, or consistent failure to meet job expectations. By demonstrating just cause, an employer can terminate an employee’s contract while remaining within the legal boundaries.

Of key importance is to thoroughly document instances of misconduct or poor performance, to support the business decision and ensure compliance. Agility’s HR team will provide all the necessary steps, timeline and guidance to ensure our clients don’t fall foul of unfamiliar employment laws.

Don’t be put off by European Labor Laws

As companies embrace opportunities in Europe, understanding and respecting local employment laws is vital. By doing so, businesses can build successful, compliant, and mutually beneficial relationships with their European workforce. For US businesses, there will be some new and different rules to follow but this need not be off-putting. If you are considering expanding an American business into Europe, and would like to talk about country specific laws or issues around potential employment termination, give our friendly team a call on +44 207 863 2969 or email hello@agilityeor.com to arrange a consultation.

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Sam Barnes

Sam Barnes

Co-Founder & Sales Director

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