As a US citizen, you probably understand your rights as an employee within the United States. But, what happens if an interesting opportunity arises to work abroad? It can be very tempting to take on a new challenge alongside a big move. This could be great for your CV and your future employment potential. So, what do you need to know about your rights as an employee whilst working abroad? We’ve spoken to legal teams here in the US to get you all you need to know about your rights as an employee whilst working abroad.
TALK TO AN ATTORNEY
Consider a young professional from Tennessee who has been offered a job in London, England. This could be a very attractive and exciting prospect for them. But, they have no idea how to deal with the offer, look over the contract, or understand English employment laws. Our first advice would be to talk to a top attorney to get advice and knowledge regarding the offer and laws overseas, Tennessee employment and consumer law attorneys will be knowledgeable in both USA law and able to properly look at a foreign contract to ensure it sounds reasonable, legal, and safe to accept the offer. They will be able to look for any loopholes or mistakes in the contract as well as advise you on any changes you may wish to ask for. Speak to an attorney first, it will make a huge difference later.
WAGES AND HOURS
So, once you’ve spoken to an attorney and the offer looks reasonable. Let’s consider your other rights, queries, or things you may wish to understand, starting with wages and hours. Different countries around the world have different minimum wages, salary caps, and expected working hours. You must ensure you understand the country or region’s working hours rules and have not been asked to work beyond those.
For example, in the EU they implement the Working Time Directive which states you should not work more than 48 hours in a week or have less than 11 hours rest in each 24-hour period. This is to protect workers from undue stress, tiredness, or illness. If your new job appears to break those rules, you should lodge a complaint or reach out to your local health & safety office.
There are also huge variations in how different countries deal with minimum wages. For example, in the UK, the minimum wage is set at £8.72 per hour – or £15,269 per year. In Germany, it is set monthly at €1584 per month – €19,008 per year. These are quite similar examples, but there can be much more variation depending on where you travel to. Either way, make sure that your employer is not trying to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of their country by trying to pay you less or work you harder than allowed.
VISAS AND IMMIGRATION
Different countries have a different work visa and immigration rules, which can be tricky to navigate. Many job offers from abroad will come with the promise of assistance in this matter. Many employers will even cover the cost of visas and reimburse you for any other immigration costs. It is important to understand the visa laws, even if your employer is taking care of the application process for you, as you wouldn’t want to be caught working on an incorrect visa and risk fines or deportation. Moving can be stressful, but ensuring you are on top of the visa paperwork can help ease those stresses.
Again, depending on where you travel to, healthcare systems can differ. In some countries, your new visa will automatically entitle you to healthcare. Whereas in others, it may not. It is worth speaking to your new employer directly about this as well as examining your job offer or contract, as many employers will actually have offers for private healthcare or insurance. This could take away any worry for you and your family regarding receiving healthcare abroad.
As with working hours and salaries, different countries have different minimum holiday requirements. Some as little as 10 days, some upwards of four weeks. If your contract does not mention vacation days or seems to have an incorrect amount of available vacation, ensure you ask about this before signing the contract.
These are some of the key things to keep in mind when looking at job offers from abroad. As you can see, variations from country to country make things quite confusing, but with the help of a lawyer and some research, you will know you are signing a good contract. If you do choose to work abroad, we wish you all the luck.