6 min read

How to Maintain GDPR Compliance Within Global Teams

Legal & compliance


Jemima Owen-Jones


November 29, 2023

Last Update

July 09, 2024

Table of Contents

Be aware of jurisdictional differences

Effectively manage data transfer across borders

Uphold robust security measures

Deel’s solution to GDPR compliance

Key takeaways
  1. GDPR compliance is a requirement of global teams handling the personal data of EU citizens, yet navigating GDPR compliance is complex, with a high risk of legal repercussions for non-compliance.
  2. Organizations must consider jurisdictional differences, manage cross-border data transfers, and enforce robust data security measures.
  3. By following GDPR requirements and ensuring robust security features, Deel supports its clients in upholding GDPR regulations.

GDPR compliance is crucial for global teams to protect personal data and maintain trust among international stakeholders and customers. Since the regulation was officially applied in 2018, compliance has become compulsory. Failing to comply can cost a company up to 4% of worldwide annual revenue or €20 million (whichever amount is higher). 

But what is GDPR, how does it work, and what do global teams need to comply?

GDPR, or the general data protection regulation, is a comprehensive data privacy and security regulation in the European Union (EU). It is intended to safeguard personal data and provide control over how organizations collect and process information. It applies to organizations in Europe and foreign entities that engage with EU citizens. 

Global companies have a legal obligation to uphold the following key requirements:

  • Lawful, fair, and transparent processing of personal data
  • Limitation of purpose, data, and storage
  • Provide data subject rights (such as the right to object, be informed, and restrict processing)
  • Obtain consent for use beyond legitimate purpose
  • Maintain a personal data breaches Register
  • Uphold privacy by design to protect personal data
  • Conduct data protection impact assessments (DPIA)
  • Uphold data transfer rules depending on data movement
  • Assign a data protection officer (DPO)
  • Awareness and training for staff who handle personal data
  • Maintain records of processing activities

HR and legal professionals representing global companies often grapple with challenges when navigating GDPR compliance. For example, jurisdictional differences, managing cross-border data transfers, obtaining explicit consent, and ensuring robust data security measures.

Deel helps thousands of companies expand globally with speed and flexibility while ensuring GDPR compliance and avoiding costly non-compliance mistakes

Be aware of jurisdictional differences

Global companies work with employees and clients across borders, introducing the challenge of understanding different jurisdictions. Consider that over 100 versions of GDPRs have emerged in jurisdictions worldwide, adding to the complex and high-cost compliance challenge for international businesses. 

Jurisdictional implications for global teams

When workers are located in various jurisdictions, legal differences have implications for global teams, such as the following:

  • Varying data protection laws and regulations
  • Varying degrees of stringent requirements
  • Varying cross-border transfer risks 
  • Varying training procedures and standards 

The legal and reputational risks of non-compliance demand particular attention. The most immediate concern for non-compliance is hefty fines, which can reach €20 million depending on the severity of non-compliance. Even minor infringements can cost up to €10 million when violating articles governing controllers and processors, certification bodies, and monitoring bodies.

Regular investigations and audits can be initiated by various means, including data protection authorities, supervisory authorities, individuals, and self-reporting. For example, affected individuals may take legal action hoping to get compensation for privacy breaches, which costs the company money while introducing the risk of reputational damage as news of GDPR violations erodes trust among customers, partners, and the public.

Deel’s strict GDPR policies

Deel empowers global companies to hire internationally and manage a global team under strict GDPR policies and practices integrated into the platform. 

Deel ensures a legal basis for processing personal data, adhering to the seven principles of data processing as outlined by article 5 of the GDPR:

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency
  • Purpose limitation
  • Data minimization
  • Accuracy
  • Storage limitation
  • Integrity and confidentiality
  • Accountability

To help companies further, Deel offers a comprehensive and globally relevant data processing addendum to help meet the requirements for GDPR (and beyond). The agreement regulates several aspects of the data processing of two parties, including data transfer safeguards and the purposes of processing.

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Effectively manage data transfer across borders

The GDPR imposes strict restrictions on transferring personal data outside the EU, demanding careful consideration and compliance. Organizations must employ specific legal mechanisms and ensure personal data protection when conducting international business or hiring internationally

Legal mechanisms to transfer personal data

Companies have options of legal mechanisms available to facilitate the GDPR-compliant transfer of personal data outside of the EU, such as the following:

  • Standard contractual clauses (SCCs): Issued by the European Commission, SCCs can be incorporated into data processing agreements, providing a legal framework for both data exporters and importers
  • Binding corporate rules (BCRs): Internal data protection policies, procedures, and GDPR rules that guide multinational organizations to govern lawful transfers within the corporate group
  • Derogations or exceptions: Allow for data transfers without additional safeguards under certain circumstances, such as obtaining explicit consent from data subjects
  • Codes of conduct and certification mechanisms: Align with GDPR principles that serve as additional safeguards when transferring data

The choice of the legal mechanism depends on the specific circumstances of the data transfer and the countries involved, so organizations should carefully assess their data transfer needs and consult legal experts to determine the best option.

Learn more: How to Navigate Data Protection and Privacy Across Borders.

Data transfer legal risks

Transferring personal data outside the EU without a valid legal reason opens the organization to significant legal risks. For example, hefty GDPR fines imposed by data protection authorities may cripple the enterprise financially. There is also the risk of affected individuals taking legal action against the company, seeking financial compensation for privacy breaches or damages incurred by unauthorized data transfers.

Data protection authorities have the ability to investigate and enforce GDPR compliance. An investigation can lead to reputational damage, regulatory sanctions, and a loss of trust from customers, partners, and the public.

Deel’s expertise in global data transfer

Deel offers a convenient solution to manage data transfer compliantly, incorporating legal mechanisms to ensure that organizations follow the necessary procedure for legal data movement.

By ensuring that the appropriate safeguards are in place for personal data transfer out of the EU, Deel aligns organizations with GDPR requirements. 

The platform is designed to protect personal data privacy. It supports the exercise of data subject rights, including the rights to access, rectify, erase, and restrict processing personal data, the right to data portability, and the right to object to processing.

Uphold robust security measures

The GDPR strives to protect personal data against unauthorized access, use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. Robust security measures and proactive data protection strategies are required by organizations to align with this requirement.

Security measures for GDPR compliance

Security measures should be implemented comprehensively and in conjunction with each other to create a strong defense against data breaches and maintain privacy according to data privacy laws in Europe (and beyond).

Common security measures to protect personal data include:

  • Encryption: Converting personal data into an unreadable format by using cryptographic algorithms
  • Access control mechanisms: Mechanisms that ensure only authorized individuals or systems can access personal data, such as usernames and passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and biometrics
  • Data backup and recovery: Protecting personal data from loss due to accidental erasure, hardware failures, and cyberattacks due to flawed cybersecurity
  • Intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS): Monitor network traffic and systems for suspicious or malicious activities
  • Security patch management: Ensuring the security of software, operating systems, and applications are up-to-date to mitigate risks of exploitation
  • Data masking and anonymization: Disguising sensitive information to allow the use of data for non-sensitive purposes while protecting confidentiality

Security legal and reputational risks

Failing to implement adequate security measures can lead to repercussions for both the enterprise and the individual. 
For example, data breaches due to inadequate safeguards can expose sensitive personal information about an individual and lead to financial losses or harm. Enterprises may receive regulatory penalties that impact the organization’s financial health and receive a public record of non-compliance, tarnishing the business’s reputation.

Reputational damage stemming from data breaches also erodes trust among customers, partners, and the public, potentially leading to a loss of business, decreased shareholder confidence, and long-lasting harm to an organization’s brand.

Deel’s commitment to data security

As a platform, Deel employs technical and organizational measures for data processing, including encryption, two-factor authentication, ISO 27001 certification, and SOC 2 compliance

Deel also incorporates a rigid data breach procedure, which ensures a quick response and notification in the event of a data breach, ensuring that data transfer is intentional and by the book.

These features, combined with Deel’s legal expertise in global GDPR compliance, demonstrate a commitment to ensuring all personal data is protected and processed compliantly.

All of Deel’s internal staff undergo regular mandatory data privacy training.

Deel’s solution to GDPR compliance

Expanding a global company demands precision regarding legal requirements and GDPR compliance. Navigating jurisdictional differences, managing cross-border data transfers, and implementing reliable security measures are all details that global teams must prioritize.

As a global third-party data processor, Deel operates by example and upholds GDPR requirements. For instance, Deel complies with the obligations of data controllers and processors as outlined in the data processing addendums and implements transparent data processing according to GDPR transparency obligations so that any data you process through Deel is upheld to the same robust standards.

Learn more about Deel’s global GDPR compliance and how it can help you uphold data protection and privacy, or book 30 minutes with a product expert to get started.

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