The UK and European Union

Works Councils, Brexit, Unions, the European Union – perhaps no other area of the world provides more to do and track for Chief Human Resource Officers and HR Executives than Europe. Multinational employers and their HR executives operating in Europe are acutely aware of the employee-friendly nature of Europe’s workplace, union, and employment law frameworks. Adding complexity to the equation is the fact that individual European Union member states can have varying ways of approaching workplace issues.

Several issues in Europe standout above others in importance. Perhaps most prominently, European Works Councils are a unique component of operating in the European Union. Works Councils are representative bodies of employees of a company. As explained by the European Union, Works Councils “are informed and consulted by management on the progress of the business and any significant decision at European level that could affect their employment or working conditions.”

Employment and workplace laws in Europe, particularly if compared to the US, are much more stringent. Workplace safety laws, union strength and so on can be much more complicated for companies.

Another important issue which is uniquely complex to Europe are data privacy laws. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides a strict framework within which companies must operate when it comes to personal data. GDPR also governs the transfer of personal data outside of the EU and EEA areas.

At least for the time being, no discussion of operating in Europe is complete without mentioning Brexit and the impact of Brexit on UK employers and HR challenges in the UK. With the United Kingdom’s departure from the common European community, a host of new issues are created for companies.

Even for companies without a presence in Europe, tracking trends developing on the other side of the Atlantic is important. With many more existing and future progressive employee and union policies, many US policy makers create ideas and initiatives in the United States based on European frameworks.

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