Working on a multi cultural environment, one of the problems that's haunting some projects we have are the differences between two countries' laws. I know that there are as much laws as there are countries, but I'd like to know if someone has already seen a kind of 'quick guide on law differences' somewhere on the Internet.

Being more specific inside labor laws, there are some differences between the laws related to vacations that I'd need to clarify. In case there's no material available (at least to use as a template) I'll need to write down mine from scratch.

Alternatively, a guide not explaining differences, but giving an overview of each country's law would be great.

Edit: What I'd expect to find would be something like a 'guide' explaining the differences in different labor aspects for each country, like working hours, vacation processes, overnight payments and so on.

Ultimately, the objective is to proper plan and estimate the costs for projects split in different countries by the same managers.

Edit #2 (Problem background): When working for a multinational company, the manager needs to be capable of proper planning the project in despite of the different rules applied to each country. Turn out that sometimes, it's quite complex to do any planning when you're not sure about the different labor laws.

Example #1: Vacations

There are some countries (A) where the vacations can be taken one day at a time, let's say 30 different Mondays in a year. There are other countries (B), however, where vacations can be taken enclosing at least 10 days straight (that's how vacations works here in Brazil). It means that, eventually, this person will be taken 'vacations' including weekends (since it's not possible to take 10 days straight without including a weekend on it). Therefore, practically speaking, this person might have 2 days less of vacations (and two days more to work, yey!).

Beyond that, there's another problem related to vacations that's the way you get eligible to take them: Some countries count them based on a (A) calendar-year basis, other countries (B) based on the day the employee joined the company. This means that, if one joins a company in (A) in 30/Nov/2012, this person will have (total days vacations in a year / months * months actively worked) (30/12 * 1) = 2 days to take off. However, when another one joins a company in (B) in the same day (30/Nov/2012), this another employee will only be eligible to take vacations after a full year after the hire date (i.e., 30/Nov/2013).

What I'd expect, when asking for 'labour laws', in this sense?

Somewhere, briefly stating how vacations are taken in each country. It would be something like (apologies if this is wrong, I'm just making up some data):

  • US: 20 days vacations, taken all at once, days counted per calendar-year
  • UK: 30 days vacations taken whenever wanted, days counted per calendar-year
  • BR: 30 days vacations taken in slices of at least 10 days, max 2 slices, days counted by hiring date
  • CH: 10 days vacations, only weekends, days counted by hiring date

Example #2: Working Hours

There are some countries where there's no much labour restrictions. The bottomline is to make things work, having the freedom to arrive to the office 6AM and leaving 6PM, with 30 min lunch time. No in-out controls.

There are some other countries (B), however, where the laws demands everyone to have at least 1h lunch time and 40h week journeys. Anything beyond that will need to be payed off as extra-hours. Check-in / check-out controls in place to know how many hours one 'worked'.

I'd expect a similar mapping as the one presented for vacations, containing how many week hours each country has and what are the restrictions in each country.

Example #3: Overnight work

The rules applied to pay an employee working during overnight also changes from country to country. I believe I don't need to enter in details here, I'm just raising this as another topic that for sure has different laws across each country.

I believe there might be other examples that would be valid to have clear, but I'd say that these listed above are the most important for a PM working with overseas teams.

  • Changed the question subject as I'm not interested in 'international laws' (that are applied to all countries) but rather in a comparison between specific laws in each country. – Tiago Cardoso Dec 5 '12 at 12:50
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    There are more than 193 countries in the world. Within the United States, each state has different labor laws, so multiplly that 193 x the number of states. Then update the reference every time the labor laws change. I'm very skeptical that such a reference exists, or that it would be useful. Might be something that could be part of an Organizational Process Asset, but I wouldn't want to use it unless legal had signed off. – Mark C. Wallace Dec 5 '12 at 14:27
  • I was thinking that if we can focus on a specific problem you faced it might work a bit better. If you can imagine an entire book being written on the subject, the question might be too broad, such as a book written about 193 different countries, or even half of that. Instead, you're in Brazil, so that's one country. What other country is involved in your problem? Maybe focusing just on you and the country where you had a problem might be better? Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Dec 5 '12 at 15:15
  • Hi @jmort253, what I was expecting was potentially too broad, as an information repository containing differences between several countries (to help PMs from other countries) could easily become a book. On the other hand, I believe that if we restrict this question to only two countries, then it should be close as too-localized. – Tiago Cardoso Dec 5 '12 at 15:55
  • Let's move the discussion the our chat... chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/7140733#7140733 – Tiago Cardoso Dec 5 '12 at 16:02


Consult your Human Resources department or your Legal Department about how resources can be allocated.

This is an HR/Legal Issue

While the answers to your questions may impact resource planning and project schedules, determining the answer to labor-related questions is ultimately not the job of a Project Manager under any methodology of which I'm personally aware.

As a PM, your job is to manage constraints. Labor laws are certainly a constraint, but those constraints should be inputs to your project management process, rather than part of the process itself.

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    I guess you nailed down the question, Code. It's not part of the PM job to gather this information, he should receive it as input. – Tiago Cardoso Dec 6 '12 at 10:48

I use International Labour Law of Prof Blanpain. http://www.ielaws.com/blanpain.htm and


He was also my Prof in International Labour Law.

  • It seems to be far beyond the understanding of a PM who wants to correctly manage projects across different countries and laws... – Tiago Cardoso Dec 3 '12 at 15:24

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