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DKK 1 million penalty imposed on employer for breach of collective agreement

January 2009 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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(statement of employment particulars) 03-12-2007 - In this case, the Court was asked to determine whether an employer was liable for a penalty under the collective agreement for giving inadequate statements of particulars and also for failing to give any at all.

New decision by the Danish Labour Court

In this case, the Court was asked to determine whether an employer was liable for a penalty under the collective agreement for giving inadequate statements of particulars and also for failing to give any at all. In late 2002, after going through a number of restructurings, the employer provided a statement of particulars to a number of its workers, including workers employed before the advent of the Danish Statement of Employment Particulars Act in 1993. The shop steward found the statements of particulars inadequate and a number of meetings were then held locally and between the organisations. After the issue of whether the workers were entitled to their contractual notices if required to show up for work at an address other than that specified in their contracts had been resolved by industrial arbitration in early 2004, the employer provided all workers with a statement of particulars. Thus, the case before the Court only related to the period up to 2004, when the workers were provided with a statement of particulars.

The trade unions claimed that the employer was obligated under the collective agreement to provide a statement of particulars also to workers employed before 1 July 1993, when the Danish Statement of Employment Particulars Act entered into force, and alleged systematic breach of the collective agreement. In response, the employer submitted that it had indeed given a statement of particulars to workers employed before that date and denied systematic breach.

The Court was satisfied that the statements of particulars given by the employer until 2004 had undisputedly been inadequate and that some of the workers employed before 1 July 1993 had not been provided with a statement of particulars even though the employer had promised them one and so the employer had failed to provide the workers with important information about pay, title and workplace, including the workers employed before 1 July 1993. On those grounds, the employer was ordered to pay a penalty for breach of the collective agreement. But since the breach was held to concern 261 employment relationships and not the 493 workers claimed by the trade union, and having regard to the size of the company, the duration of the breach and the fact that new statements of particulars had been given in early 2004, the Court fixed the aggregate penalty at DKK 1 million.

The case shows that:

  • If an employer has promised to give statements of particulars also to employees employed before the effective date of the Danish Statement of Employment Particulars Act, sanctions are available against the employer for giving inadequate statements of particulars or failing to give any at all.

Christian K. Clasen
ckc@norrbomvinding.com

This information does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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