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HR Legal

Redundancies in the Nordics

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Legal news
calendar 17 December 2023
globus Norway, Denmark, Sweden

Companies must consider several things before completing a termination due to redundancy. The approach and entitlements vary across the Nordics. For example, employee rights vary when it comes to notice periods, statutory severance pay entitlements, and consultation obligations. Therefore, companies must approach the task carefully when handling a redundancy process across Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Companies who consider termination of employment first need to contemplate the legal grounds for the termination. If the termination is due to redundancy, companies must be ready to document the reasons for the redundancy. A position becomes redundant when the termination of one or more employees is necessary due to circumstances that are unrelated to them personally. Reasons for redundancy include economic difficulties, the removal of a specific role, or the decision to close the business.

When termination is due to redundancy, one of the most important questions is often the selection of the affected employees. In Denmark, companies are free to select based on non-discriminatory criteria, assuming that the employees do not enjoy any special protection. In Norway, companies are more restricted because the criteria also must be objective and, in addition, include seniority as a criteria in most cases. Companies are subject to the most restrictions in Sweden, where the so-called “last in, first out” principle defines the affected employees by identifying them on the LIFO list, subject to a few exceptions.  

In addition to the selection process, companies must consider whether there are information and consultation requirements within each country. In Denmark, information and consultation requirements only exist in limited situations. In Norway, individual discussion meetings are always required before a termination can occur. In Sweden, consultation obligations apply towards the unions when an employee is a trade union member, or the company is subject to a collective agreement.

Employee entitlements

Affected employees have a number of statutory and contractual entitlements that are triggered by termination of employment. Such entitlements often vary across the Nordics. Despite such differences, common considerations include:

  • Length of the notice period
  • Procedure until termination date (work as usual, release from duties, etc.)
  • Statutory and/or extraordinary severance pay
  • Vacant positions that could be relevant for affected employees
  • Outplacement entitlements
  • Holiday
  • Certificate of employment
  • Re-employment rights (Sweden and Norway only)
  • Employees in protected groups

It is especially important to identify protected employee groups when selecting between multiple employees. The protected groups are not the same across the Nordics. For example, employees on parental leave are protected in Denmark but not in Sweden and Norway, where they are only entitled to a delayed notice period. 

IUNO’s opinion

IUNO recommends that companies take the necessary time to prepare before completing a redundancy process. Preparations should include an overview of the individual entitlements, the selection criteria, the reasons relating to the redundancy, and the documentation package. Such preparations will usually also lower the risk of delays and claims for compensation.

We have previously written about a case in Sweden, which showed how important LIFO-lists are, here. We have also described the importance of the preferential right in a Norwegian case, here.

This newsletter is the fourth one in part of a series of newsletters explaining restructuring and dismissals in the Nordics. You can read about misconduct here, underperformance here, and changing employment terms here.

Companies who consider termination of employment first need to contemplate the legal grounds for the termination. If the termination is due to redundancy, companies must be ready to document the reasons for the redundancy. A position becomes redundant when the termination of one or more employees is necessary due to circumstances that are unrelated to them personally. Reasons for redundancy include economic difficulties, the removal of a specific role, or the decision to close the business.

When termination is due to redundancy, one of the most important questions is often the selection of the affected employees. In Denmark, companies are free to select based on non-discriminatory criteria, assuming that the employees do not enjoy any special protection. In Norway, companies are more restricted because the criteria also must be objective and, in addition, include seniority as a criteria in most cases. Companies are subject to the most restrictions in Sweden, where the so-called “last in, first out” principle defines the affected employees by identifying them on the LIFO list, subject to a few exceptions.  

In addition to the selection process, companies must consider whether there are information and consultation requirements within each country. In Denmark, information and consultation requirements only exist in limited situations. In Norway, individual discussion meetings are always required before a termination can occur. In Sweden, consultation obligations apply towards the unions when an employee is a trade union member, or the company is subject to a collective agreement.

Employee entitlements

Affected employees have a number of statutory and contractual entitlements that are triggered by termination of employment. Such entitlements often vary across the Nordics. Despite such differences, common considerations include:

  • Length of the notice period
  • Procedure until termination date (work as usual, release from duties, etc.)
  • Statutory and/or extraordinary severance pay
  • Vacant positions that could be relevant for affected employees
  • Outplacement entitlements
  • Holiday
  • Certificate of employment
  • Re-employment rights (Sweden and Norway only)
  • Employees in protected groups

It is especially important to identify protected employee groups when selecting between multiple employees. The protected groups are not the same across the Nordics. For example, employees on parental leave are protected in Denmark but not in Sweden and Norway, where they are only entitled to a delayed notice period. 

IUNO’s opinion

IUNO recommends that companies take the necessary time to prepare before completing a redundancy process. Preparations should include an overview of the individual entitlements, the selection criteria, the reasons relating to the redundancy, and the documentation package. Such preparations will usually also lower the risk of delays and claims for compensation.

We have previously written about a case in Sweden, which showed how important LIFO-lists are, here. We have also described the importance of the preferential right in a Norwegian case, here.

This newsletter is the fourth one in part of a series of newsletters explaining restructuring and dismissals in the Nordics. You can read about misconduct here, underperformance here, and changing employment terms here.

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

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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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Jensen

Legal advisor

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