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Changing employment terms in the Nordics

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Legal news
calendar 27 August 2023
globus Denmark, Norway, Sweden

If employees' employment terms change as a result of a reorganization, several rules can come into play. If the changes are material, companies must introduce the changes with notice or by consent. The rules in the Nordics are similar in many ways. However, different nuances of the rules must be respected in each country.

Notice or consent is always required when a change is material.

However, it can be difficult to determine when a change is material. Material changes could be changes affecting the:

  • Salary
  • Commission and bonus
  • Job title and tasks
  • Place of work
  • Working time
  • Holiday

Changes affecting benefits such as Christmas parties, coffee, and free fruit are usually not material changes.  Ultimately, it is always a case-by-case assessment whether a change affects employees to the extent that it is a material change.

When consent or notice is required

When the change is not material, companies can introduce the changes instantly or with reasonable notice. When the change is material, companies need to proceed with consent or notice – or a combination of the two.

When combining consent and notice, companies usually start by trying to get consent to implement the change. If the employee does not consent to the change, the company can proceed with a harder approach.

That means that the formal termination process will have to be followed. As a result, the employee’s current position will need to be terminated while at the same time offering a new position that includes the material change.

IUNO’s opinion

To avoid the risk of an unintended termination, companies should consider if changes are material or not on a case-by-case basis. If employees are covered by a collective agreement, there may also be specific procedures to follow.

IUNO recommends companies having internal guidelines in place, and keeping in mind that the definition of material changes may vary within the Nordics. We have previously written about cases where consent and notice were in focus. Here we have written about a company in Denmark that did not give notice before changing the commission plan. Here we covered changed work tasks without consent in Sweden, and here we wrote about a CEOs changed work tasks and demotion in Norway.

This newsletter is part of a series explaining restructuring and terminations in the Nordics. Read about underperformance here and misconduct here.

Notice or consent is always required when a change is material.

However, it can be difficult to determine when a change is material. Material changes could be changes affecting the:

  • Salary
  • Commission and bonus
  • Job title and tasks
  • Place of work
  • Working time
  • Holiday

Changes affecting benefits such as Christmas parties, coffee, and free fruit are usually not material changes.  Ultimately, it is always a case-by-case assessment whether a change affects employees to the extent that it is a material change.

When consent or notice is required

When the change is not material, companies can introduce the changes instantly or with reasonable notice. When the change is material, companies need to proceed with consent or notice – or a combination of the two.

When combining consent and notice, companies usually start by trying to get consent to implement the change. If the employee does not consent to the change, the company can proceed with a harder approach.

That means that the formal termination process will have to be followed. As a result, the employee’s current position will need to be terminated while at the same time offering a new position that includes the material change.

IUNO’s opinion

To avoid the risk of an unintended termination, companies should consider if changes are material or not on a case-by-case basis. If employees are covered by a collective agreement, there may also be specific procedures to follow.

IUNO recommends companies having internal guidelines in place, and keeping in mind that the definition of material changes may vary within the Nordics. We have previously written about cases where consent and notice were in focus. Here we have written about a company in Denmark that did not give notice before changing the commission plan. Here we covered changed work tasks without consent in Sweden, and here we wrote about a CEOs changed work tasks and demotion in Norway.

This newsletter is part of a series explaining restructuring and terminations in the Nordics. Read about underperformance here and misconduct here.

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

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Kirsten

Astrup

Managing associate (on leave)

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Managing associate

Cecillie

Groth Henriksen

Senior associate

Johan

Gustav Dein

Associate

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Alexandra

Jensen

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Anaïs

Kjærgaard Crouzet

Associate

Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Caroline

Thorsen

Junior legal assistant

Cecillie

Groth Henriksen

Senior associate

Johan

Gustav Dein

Associate

Julie

Meyer

Senior legal assistant

Kirsten

Astrup

Managing associate (on leave)

Maria

Kjærsgaard Juhl

Legal advisor

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Managing associate

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

Partner