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Firefighters’ dream to work more got extinguished

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calendar 2 Oktober 2022
globus Sweden

Part-time employees have a priority right to full-time employment. This right was the subject of a recent case where four part-time firefighters had communicated that they wanted to work more. Irrespective of their requests, 16 new full-time employees were employed. The Swedish Labour Court confirmed that the company’s decision not to offer the four more work was wrong

Four on-call firefighters worked at a local fire department in a small city on the Swedish west coast. They all worked part-time and were on duty between 10 to 17 hours every month.

After being employed between 14 and 47 years at the company, all four communicated that they wanted to work more. However, two employees never received an answer, and the two others received wrong explanations. One explanation was that the conditions for requesting more work were not satisfied. The other explanation was that the employee did not have the necessary qualifications.

Soon after, the company hired 16 new full-time firefighters without first offering the positions to the four part-time employees.

Who has the right of priority?

Part-time employees have a priority right to work more when three requirements are satisfied:

  • They have communicated that they wish to work more
  • They can accommodate the company’s need for work by working more
  • They are qualified for the position

In this case, the court found that the three requirements were fulfilled. This was because the employees had notified the company and were qualified for the positions. The company’s need for full-time employees would also be fulfilled by hiring the four employees full-time.

The court noted that the rules applied as the employees were part-time employees. This was despite their titles being “on standby firefighters” or “contingency officers” and not having fixed working hours.

Finally, the court stated that the right of priority was not limited due to the application of two separate collective bargaining agreements. Consequently, although the on-call employees and full-time employees had two different collective bargaining agreements, the right of priority still applied.

IUNO’s opinion

This case shows how to assess whether an employee is working part-time. This is important as there is no definition in the applicable rules. The case is also a good example of what requirements need to be fulfilled in order for the right of priority to apply. In addition, it confirms that collective bargaining agreements do not limit the right of priority.

IUNO recommends that companies first look internally when the need for more workforce arises. Companies should compare the tasks and qualifications expected from a full-time employee to those of the part-time employee asking to work more.

[The Swedish Labour Court’s decision of 11 May 2022 in case 29/229]

Four on-call firefighters worked at a local fire department in a small city on the Swedish west coast. They all worked part-time and were on duty between 10 to 17 hours every month.

After being employed between 14 and 47 years at the company, all four communicated that they wanted to work more. However, two employees never received an answer, and the two others received wrong explanations. One explanation was that the conditions for requesting more work were not satisfied. The other explanation was that the employee did not have the necessary qualifications.

Soon after, the company hired 16 new full-time firefighters without first offering the positions to the four part-time employees.

Who has the right of priority?

Part-time employees have a priority right to work more when three requirements are satisfied:

  • They have communicated that they wish to work more
  • They can accommodate the company’s need for work by working more
  • They are qualified for the position

In this case, the court found that the three requirements were fulfilled. This was because the employees had notified the company and were qualified for the positions. The company’s need for full-time employees would also be fulfilled by hiring the four employees full-time.

The court noted that the rules applied as the employees were part-time employees. This was despite their titles being “on standby firefighters” or “contingency officers” and not having fixed working hours.

Finally, the court stated that the right of priority was not limited due to the application of two separate collective bargaining agreements. Consequently, although the on-call employees and full-time employees had two different collective bargaining agreements, the right of priority still applied.

IUNO’s opinion

This case shows how to assess whether an employee is working part-time. This is important as there is no definition in the applicable rules. The case is also a good example of what requirements need to be fulfilled in order for the right of priority to apply. In addition, it confirms that collective bargaining agreements do not limit the right of priority.

IUNO recommends that companies first look internally when the need for more workforce arises. Companies should compare the tasks and qualifications expected from a full-time employee to those of the part-time employee asking to work more.

[The Swedish Labour Court’s decision of 11 May 2022 in case 29/229]

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

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Kirsten

Astrup

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