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calendar 28 January 2024
globus Sweden

A department store hired a part-time employee to work 20 hours a week. At the time, all the company's other part-time employees had notified the company that they wanted to work more. A trade union argued that the company should have negotiated with the union before hiring the new part-time employee. The Labour Court found that the company did not need to negotiate with the union.

In the spring, a department store in southern Sweden hired an employee to work part-time. Due to its organization, the company only wanted part-time employees working in the store. When the new employee was hired, the company had eight part-time employees, all of whom had reported that they wanted to work more.

The company was not required to change its structure and organization to accommodate the requests for a higher employment rate. For that reason, none of the existing employees were offered the new position. Therefore, the company and the union agreed that none of the existing employees had a preferential right.

The question in the Labour Court was if the company needed to negotiate with the union before hiring the new employee.

No preferential right, no negotiation

The court found that the company did not need to negotiate with the union as the preferential right had not come into play. This was because the company did not have to change its structure.

The court emphasized that the obligation to negotiate only applies when there is a preferential right. Nothing obligated the company to negotiate with the union before hiring the new employee.

IUNO’s opinion

As this case shows, unions may argue that negotiation obligations apply although that is not the case. The conclusion of the case is not surprising but shows that companies must know what their obligations to the union are.

IUNO recommends that companies carefully consider if part-time employees have a preferential right before hiring new employees and if this calls for negotiations. We have previously written about a case on the importance of respecting preferential rights, here.

[The Swedish Labour Court of 4 October 2023 in case 53/2023]

In the spring, a department store in southern Sweden hired an employee to work part-time. Due to its organization, the company only wanted part-time employees working in the store. When the new employee was hired, the company had eight part-time employees, all of whom had reported that they wanted to work more.

The company was not required to change its structure and organization to accommodate the requests for a higher employment rate. For that reason, none of the existing employees were offered the new position. Therefore, the company and the union agreed that none of the existing employees had a preferential right.

The question in the Labour Court was if the company needed to negotiate with the union before hiring the new employee.

No preferential right, no negotiation

The court found that the company did not need to negotiate with the union as the preferential right had not come into play. This was because the company did not have to change its structure.

The court emphasized that the obligation to negotiate only applies when there is a preferential right. Nothing obligated the company to negotiate with the union before hiring the new employee.

IUNO’s opinion

As this case shows, unions may argue that negotiation obligations apply although that is not the case. The conclusion of the case is not surprising but shows that companies must know what their obligations to the union are.

IUNO recommends that companies carefully consider if part-time employees have a preferential right before hiring new employees and if this calls for negotiations. We have previously written about a case on the importance of respecting preferential rights, here.

[The Swedish Labour Court of 4 October 2023 in case 53/2023]

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Etgen Reitz

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