Expats planning to work in Luxembourg will discover that the government looks after its workforce with strict labour laws regarding work hours, leave, taxes and minimum wage. This means expats in Luxembourg will benefit from a good work-life balance and decent salaries, while some expats may even qualify for lower tax rates for their first eight years working in the country.
Luxembourg has a large international community and is highly accommodating of foreigners. While it may prove tricky to land a job at first, expats usually adjust quite easily to the workplace in Luxembourg once they find one, provided they speak one of the local languages.
While French, German and Luxembourgish are all official languages, French is most widely used in business. That said, German and Luxembourgish are sometimes spoken in the workplace, while English is rarely spoken.
Monday to Friday, 8am or 9am to 5pm or 6pm. Many companies have flexible hours, meaning employees can arrange their hours to suit them, provided they work 40 hours a week.
The dress code in Luxembourg is formal and conservative. Luxembourgers generally wear high quality clothes while avoiding bright colours. Men wear suits and ties, while women typically dress in either a suit, dress, or a skirt and blouse.
A firm handshake is the appropriate greeting between business associates. Three light kisses on the cheeks are typical among friends, but not between two men. Expats should continue to address everyone as Monsieur or Madame followed by their surname until told otherwise.
Business cards are exchanged when first meeting a business associate. They generally mention both the person's job title and academic title. We advise that expats in Luxembourg have their business cards printed in both French and German.
Gifts are generally not exchanged in the business world in Luxembourg. When invited to someone's house, however, it is customary to bring a gift of flowers, chocolates or a good bottle of wine.
Luxembourg created the Ministry of Equality between Women and Men in 2015, whose sole purpose is to create a gender-equal society. The government also passed new legislation that enforces equal pay between genders. Despite these improvements, gender equality in Luxembourg is still a work in progress, though it is improving each year as more women join the workforce. Expat women working in Luxembourg shouldn't face any discrimination.
Business culture in Luxembourg
While work culture in Luxembourg is conservative and formal, the labour laws work in favour of employees, and expats will most likely benefit from improved work-life balance and a good salary.
Business in Luxembourg is hierarchical and senior-level employees are highly respected. Decision-making therefore occurs at the top of the organisation. Despite this traditional structure, many businesses are adopting a management approach to increase staff participation.
Workers in Luxembourg generally have a good work-life balance. Full-time employees work eight hours a day, five days a week, totalling 40 hours of work per week. Overtime is generally paid, but employees are legally not allowed to work more than 48 hours a week.
Full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 25 days of leave a year, excluding the 10 annual public holidays. This may differ for fixed-term or part-time employees.
Meetings in Luxembourg are formal and follow protocol. The purpose of a meeting is often to formalise a decision or give instructions, as often the decision-making is done prior to the meeting. Small talk is kept to a minimum and rules of conduct are closely followed.
Punctuality is taken seriously in Luxembourg, both inside and outside of the workplace. If running late, expats should call to inform whomever they are meeting. Schedules are also closely followed, and deadlines adhered to.
Expats will discover Luxembourgers to be rational and pragmatic in the workplace, generally speaking. Strong criticism and assertiveness are not appreciated; rather communicate with courtesy and an element of charm.
Expats should avoid high-pressure tactics when in negotiations and be careful not to rush decisions. Emotional outbursts are also not welcome, neither is boasting about achievements or exaggerating.
Dos and don'ts of business in Luxembourg
- Don't arrive late to meetings or business engagements
- Do dress formally and conservatively
- Do greet people with their surname and honorary title
- Do keep one's personal and work life sperate, and respect one's colleagues' privacy
- Don't organise business meetings in July and August, or around Easter and Christmas, as many people go on leave during these times of the year