The European Privacy Act – What Does HR Need To Know?

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect in the European Union (EU) on 25 May 2018.

The Sense Of EU-Wide Privacy Legislation

Technological developments do not take place at national level, but at international level. The EU has a fragmented whole of privacy legislation. The EU harmonized the protection of personal data through the European Data Protection Directive in 1995 already. This directive provides for rules for the processing of personal data. The Member States were obliged to transpose the directive into national legislation (implementation) within three years.

The beginning of the 21st century was a time when social media still played a rather insignificant role. Through the founding of Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2006, the directive has become obsolete. The personal data of EU citizens had to be better protected. The EU therefore designed a proposal for new legislation in 2012, which was eventually adopted in April 2016: Regulation 2016/679, or the General Data Protection Regulation/GDPR.

The advantage of a regulation over a directive is that a regulation has direct effect in all Member States and a directive must first be transposed into a national law. A directive and a regulation determine the frameworks for rights and obligations of, on the one hand, persons from whom data is collected and processed, and, on the other hand, companies and government institutions that collect and process personal data.

What the actual protection looks like, in addition to the statutory frameworks, also depends on the further development and interpretation that is given and the way in which enforcement takes place. The law and regulations in the field of privacy and the protection of personal data has many open standards. This has the great advantage that the rules remain useful for longer as the technology develops.

Citizens, businesses and governments had two years to prepare for the new GDPR rules, which will take effect on 25 May 2018.

GDPR will therefore now put an end to the fragmented privacy legislation within the EU and, among other things, ensure:

  • Strengthening and extending privacy rights. For example, organizations must receive valid permission from people to process their personal data. In addition to the existing right to ask an organization to remove their personal data, people also have the right to demand that the organization pass on the removal to all other organizations that have received this data from this organization;
  • More obligations and responsibilities for organizations that process personal data. The emphasis is on the responsibility of organizations to be able to demonstrate that they comply with the law;
  • The same authority for all European privacy regulators, such as the authority to impose fines of up to twenty million euros.
  • The best practices for HR policy implementation are in place. HR policies and procedures must adhere to the European Privacy Act and ensure employees are aware of their rights under that law.

All companies and bodies that own or process personal data are subject to the rules laid down in the General Data Protection Regulation. The GDPR applies to the automated processing of personal data. Organizations are obliged to provide information to persons whose personal data they use. Also, under this law, organizations have to inform people what personal data they use and for what purpose. They must also provide information about their identity (name and address of the organization) and whether they provide the data to other organizations.

The GDPR is, however, more concrete about the obligation to provide information. Organizations must provide at least the following information:

  • the identity and contact details of the controller;
  • the contact details of the data protection officer;
  • the purposes and legal basis for the use of the data;
  • the legitimate interests of the controller, if the processing is based on the legitimate interest;
  • the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data; and
  • whether the data will be passed on to a country outside the EU.

In addition to the above information, organizations must provide the following additional information to ensure proper and transparent processing:

  • the retention period of the data;
  • that the person concerned has the right to inspect and rectify or delete the data, or limit the processing concerning him/her, and also the right to object to the processing and the right to data transferability;
  • that the person concerned has the right to withdraw his/her permission;
  • that the person concerned has the right to submit a complaint to the controller;
  • whether the provision of personal data is a legal or contractual obligation or a necessary condition for concluding an agreement, and whether the data subject is obliged to provide the personal data and what the possible consequences are when this data is not provided;
  • the existence of ‘profiling’ or automated decision-making;
  • if the data is not obtained from the person concerned, the source from which the personal data originated.

The GDPR further stipulates that prior information must be easily accessible and written in clear and simple language.

Data Protection Officer

One of the new rules of the GDPR is that many organizations are obliged to appoint a so-called data protection officer (DPO). The data protection officer supervises compliance with the privacy regulations in an organization.

The appointment of a data protection officer is only mandatory on 25 May 2018 for organizations that, on account of their nature or size, process personal data on a large scale and with government departments, with the exception of judicial authorities.

The most important duties of a data protection officer are:

  • monitoring;
  • collecting inventories of data processing;
  • the development of internal regulations;
  • keeping track of reports of data processing;
  • treatment of questions and complaints from employees, customers, patients;
  • information;
  • advise on technology and security.

Small And Medium-Sized Businesses

The GDPR will apply to all organizations that process personal data, including small and medium-sized businesses and freelancers who process data, such as keeping track of customer appointments, customer phone numbers or personnel information. SMEs must also appoint a data protection officer when the core activities require the processing of sensitive data on a large scale. SMEs are also obliged to keep a register of the data they collect when these activities are structural and involve a high risk for privacy.


If an organization violates the AVG after 25 May 2018, the Dutch Data Protection Authority can impose a fine of up to twenty million euros, or a fine of four percent of the worldwide annual turnover, should that amount be higher.

It is time to evaluate your readiness, build a plan, and then implement the plan.

Business owner surrounded by paperwork, indicating the need for HR outsourcing

How outsourcing HR can save money

If you own a small or mid-sized business, you understand how frustrating it can be to spend time and money on tasks that don’t generate revenue. The costs of building an HR department from the ground up can prove astronomical. 

When you’re launching your small business in a foreign country, especially, you’ll need HR solutions before you open your doors for daily operation. Europe HR Solutions can help.


The right outsourced HR team can reduce your ongoing costs in the following ways:

  • Payroll administration:

By outsourcing your HR, you can bring in vetted professionals to set up and administer your payroll system. This team can train you to ensure a seamless transition after their service contract is completed. 

You won’t have to stress over hiring long-term employees to take care of payroll, or training payroll administrators.

  • Benefits implementation:

Your outsourced HR team can help you to select the right benefits software package and enroll the employees of your small business.

  • Human resources management:

Outsourcing your HR can prove to be a game changer for your overall human resources management, too. HR consultants contribute through a wealth of experience in compliance, employee relations, and recruitment.

This saves valuable time for small business owners, mitigates the risk of legal issues and delays in operations, and provides access to the latest industry best practices and trends.

When it makes sense to outsource HR for small businesses  

International companies with fewer than 50 employees are considered small businesses, and rarely expand to Europe with an inhouse HR team already in place.

For US and UK-based small businesses that launch European operations, there’s usually a CFO who oversees broad HR tasks. 

However, the CFO or other executives managing HR for a small business launch in Europe often lacks the country-specific legal and HR expertise necessary to ensure innovative solutions that reflect the country’s best HR practices and legal compliance.

It’s important to consider the following when determining whether or not you should outsource your HR:

  • What specific HR services and support does your business require?
  • Do you have anyone on your team who’s well-versed in country-specific employee regulations and labor laws?
  • Will you need management compliance training and support?
  • Will your current employment handbook, policies, and procedures translate to adhere to the needs of employees in different countries?
  • Do you have a small HR department in place that may need help implementing payroll, benefits, training, and development?
Time is money. Outsourcing HR saves time, letting you focus on what matters.

What to expect with Europe HR Solutions

By outsourcing your HR, you may find it’s easier to take care of your daily operations and to strategize and prepare for the launch of your small business in Europe. Europe HR Solutions has supported countless small, mid, and large-sized businesses in their international HR needs.  

Whether you need our team to manage your HR and implement solutions, or you need us to help guide the HR professionals you have on staff, we can sweat the small stuff to ensure your big picture remains intact. 

You can expect Europe HR Solutions to do the following:

Act as your representatives:

We’ll act as an extension of your small business. This means we will collaborate with you and ensure we’re promoting your vision and standards in any HR matters we handle for you.

Ad hoc requests:

We understand that you may have ad hoc requests. We’re used to fast-paced, high pressure situations, and will ensure your needs are met in a timely manner.

Assist with HR strategies:

We’re committed to providing HR services that help your business grow and succeed. We’ll make certain that the innovative solutions we offer adhere to your overall business and HR strategies.

Create and implement policies and procedures:

We’ll strategize with you to create and implement your company’s policies and procedures and ensure details are in place that will help your employees thrive and create a positive work environment.

Handle employee contract needs:

We’ll help to create and manage your employee hiring processes (including talent acquisition, interviews, and onboarding checklists), employee complaint procedures, performance reviews, and off-boarding processes.

Legal compliance:

Europe HR Solutions will use our thorough knowledge of the various nuances in employment regulations and labor laws to keep your operations, policies, and procedures within legal compliance. This will help reduce your liability risk should issues with employees arise.

Manage employee and management training and development: 

We can cover government-mandated and specific position training programs to support your employees to work with excellence and grow in their positions. This includes compliance training for managers.


We can utilize the latest in talent acquisition trends and industry best practices to make sure you attract the talent you deserve to fill your staffing needs. We want to help you to build the best team possible to create a positive work culture and  a productive team.

The cost of outsourced HR services for small businesses

When to outsource your small business’s HR could be determined by your available budget. The cost of outsourcing your HR may be an upfront expense, but in the long run, it can save you significant money and protect your revenue.

The services offered by Europe HR Solutions can vary in cost, and are dependent on the extent of service you require. We can determine the cost based on the scope of the project.

For example, you may need us to manage a specific, well-defined project that allows us to estimate the cost involved. However, you may require our services on a daily basis, for an extended period of time, or find you need support in an immediate HR emergency. This may mean we will need a retainer payment or charge for an hourly rate.

How to determine your HR outsourcing needs

Before you decide to outsource your HR, it’s vital to determine what type of services you require. It can be overwhelming to discern your needs, but reflecting on and strategizing about specifics can be beneficial.

Answering the following questions may help you to understand what services you require:

  • Do you need an outsourced HR professional who takes the time to know and understand your business, staff, and culture?
  • Do you need HR professionals who are available on a daily basis?
  • Are you in dire need of help with critical talent acquisition?
  • Do you require flexibility and a large scope of HR tasks?
  • Are your needs limited to legal compliance and knowledge?
  • Do you need help developing your workplace culture?
  • Do you need to overcome language barriers?
  • What are your long-term HR needs?

Other benefits of outsourcing your HR

Once you’ve determined when to outsource HR for your small business, you may find that it allows you to streamline your operations and focus on your overall business strategy.

This strategic move reduces your administrative burdens of managing payroll, benefits, and other HR tasks in-house. The cost-effectiveness of outsourcing becomes evident as it eliminates the need for investing in HR infrastructure and ongoing training. 

This newfound flexibility can enable your small business to adapt quickly to market changes and allocate resources more efficiently. Ultimately, an outsourced HR team becomes a strategic partner, and empowers you to prioritize your employees, enhance organizational efficiency, and thrive in the competitive European business landscape.

Contact Europe HR Solutions

Europe HR Solutions understands how crucial HR is to the foundation of any successful business. We can consult with you to determine when it’s best to outsource HR for your small business, and customize innovative solutions with you. 

Your HR needs remain our greatest priority, and we want to support you in ways that promote legal compliance and allow you to see your small business dreams come to fruition. 

Connect with Europe HR Solutions today for a free consultation and be sure to check out our blog for the latest HR insights, tips, and trends. The road to success for your small business is just an HR step away.

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    Inez Vermeulen

    Inez Vermeulen

    Inez Vermeulen is the Founder and CEO of Europe HR Solutions, with over 25 years of successful corporate and entrepreneurial experience in various global industries. She has helped grow and expand the European divisions of global companies such as Coca-Cola Company, Regus, DHL, American Medical Systems, etc. Inez has received several company awards for her entrepreneurial spirit and success.

    She owns a Bachelor’s degree in French, History and Latin, several HR global expert certifications, a Master’s degree in Metaphysical Sciences, ICF Coach Certification and has completed her Doctorate on Transformational Leadership. Inez is fluent in Dutch, English, French, Italian and German. She works in partnership with an extensive international network of independent & professional companies and resides in Belgium near Brussels with her husband Jan.