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Work longer hours or leave

May 2011 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

More articles by this firm.

Discrimination
Dismissing a part-time employee who does not wish to transfer to full-time is okay – as long as the dismissal is objectively justifiable. This was confirmed by the High Court in this case.
Under the Danish Part-Time Employment Act, part-time employees are entitled to be treated in the same way as their full-time colleagues. But that does not mean that part-time employees cannot be dismissed if the employer really needs them to work longer hours.
Two dentists with their own clinic wanted to obtain an ISO certification and perform more surgery. But in order to do so, they would have to either persuade one of their three part-time assistants to work longer hours or hire another part-time assistant.
Since none of the assistants wanted to work longer hours and the two dentists did not believe that the clinic was big enough to employ a fourth assistant, they dismissed one of the assistants and replaced her with a full-time trainee. The assistant’s union was not happy about that and the matter therefore ended up in court.
Justified by operational reasons
The Court agreed with the dentists that there was an operational need to increase staff hours. In addition, there was no doubt from an operational perspective that it would be best if those hours could be obtained by increasing the assistant's hours instead of hiring another part-time assistant.
Accordingly, the dismissal was objectively justified by a reorganisation at the clinic and the assistant was not entitled to compensation under the Danish Part-time Employment Act.
In so holding, the Court overturned the lower court’s judgment from February 2010. Click here to see our commentary on that judgment.
Norrbom Vinding notes:
  • that the case shows that dismissing a part-time employee for not wanting to work longer hours is legal – provided that the employer's wish to increase hours is objectively justified by operational reasons.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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