12 Tips for Data Protection in Europe: From Hiring to Firing

portrait of Kurt Von Moos

By Kurt von Moos, Executive Director, EMEA

Global expansion brings numerous corporate risks for businesses and data protection is one often overlooked yet crucial area. This aspect becomes particularly daunting for companies entering Europe, where adherence to legal frameworks like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a fundamental requirement for managing a workforce. It’s akin to sailing through unfamiliar and turbulent waters, exposing businesses to potential pitfalls.

In this blog post, we focus on practical advice for data protection across the entire spectrum of HR processes in Europe, from recruiting and hiring to employee departures. These insights aim to guide your company away from potential storms of data protection non-compliance. 

Hiring: Starting with a strong foundation

Data protection in Europe begins the moment you initiate recruitment efforts, as this marks the inception of collecting and handling employee data. This includes applications, resumes, interviews, onboarding, tax, payroll processing and other exchanges. The following tips are geared to help you establish a robust foundation right from the start.

  • Data Minimization: Solicit and process only the essential personal data for recruitment purposes. Avoid collecting excessive information unrelated to the job.
  • Consent Protocol: Seek explicit consent from candidates to process their data for hiring purposes. Transparency is key so you should clearly communicate how their information will be utilized.
  • Security Measures: Employ robust security measures to safeguard applicant data. Encryption, access controls and secure storage are imperative.
  • Retention Policies: Define clear data storage policies aligned with GDPR guidelines. Keep candidate data only as long as necessary for the hiring process.
  • Transparency and Disclosure: Provide comprehensive information to applicants regarding data usage and their rights under GDPR or other regulations. Include this in your privacy notice for transparency.
  • International Data Transfers: If your company operates across borders, adhere to GDPR-compliant mechanisms for transferring data outside the EEA.

Firing: Ethical handling of departing employee data

The obligation for data protection persists even after an employee’s termination, requiring ongoing diligence on the part of the employer. It’s crucial to manage data responsibly throughout the employee lifecycle. The following tips are intended to assist you in navigating the termination and post-termination stages effectively.

  • Data Deletion: Upon employment termination, promptly delete unnecessary personal data. Ensure compliance with legal and HR requirements.
  • Consent Review: Assess the relevance of consent obtained from employees during their tenure. Seek new consent if data processing post-termination differs from initial terms.
  • Respect Access Rights: Honor ex-employees’ rights to access their data. Verify their identities and facilitate their requests promptly.
  • Data Portability: Provide mechanisms for employees to receive their data in a format that allows easy transfer to a new employer if requested.
  • Exit Interviews: Conduct exit interviews in GDPR compliance, informing departing employees about data handling and addressing any queries.
  • Documentation for Compliance: Maintain thorough records of data processing activities, including employee data handling, as evidence of GDPR compliance.

Employer of Record: Your ally for data protection

Navigating the nuances of data protection compliance can pose challenges, especially for international companies expanding into Europe. Businesses of varying sizes and industries may find it daunting to stay updated and compliant, particularly in the hiring and firing processes.

Amid these challenges, an effective Employer of Record (EOR) partner is a valuable ally. An EOR specializes in local data protection regulations, offering expertise and solutions that streamline GDPR compliance across the employment lifecycle. This partnership not only aligns your hiring and firing practices with local regulations but also delivers a host of additional advantages. Beyond data management, an EOR partner can provide robust guidance on legal compliance, payroll processing, taxation, benefits and HR services. 

While the terrain of data protection poses challenges in Europe, a strong EOR partnership can serve as a guiding beacon. By entrusting these responsibilities to a competent EOR, companies can navigate the complexities of data management and unlock numerous operational advantages – fostering sustained growth and resilience in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Check out our ‘Guide to Hiring and Firing: Building a Resilient Workforce in Europe‘ and also go through the recording of our webinar ‘From Singapore to Spain and Beyond: How to Hire and Fire Around the World’. and contact us to discover how GoGlobal can help you expand and hire with confidence in this dynamic continent.