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From driver to customer manager to driver again

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

More articles by this firm.

A change in work responsibilities may constitute a dismissal if it means that the employee loses his or her white-collar status

If an employee's work responsibilities are changed, the change may be so significant that the employee is entitled to consider him-/herself dismissed. So the Western High Court establishes in a recent judgment.

An employee was summarily dismissed because she refused to work as a driver. Originally, she had been employed as a driver for disabled people. After a number of years, the employee became customer manager, and the new position gave her white-collar status. However, after 18 months the employee was asked to return to being a driver, which meant that she was no longer a white-collar worker.

Notice of change

The employee was not happy with the change. She refused to drive and instead offered to continue her work as customer manager. Her employer was of the opinion that she had refused to perform her contractual obligations and summarily dismissed her.

The Court agreed with the lower court that the employee was entitled to refuse to work as a driver. The loss of her white-collar status constituted a material change which could only be implemented subject to her notice of termination. The summary dismissal was therefore unjustified, entitling the employee to three months' minimum compensation. In addition, the employer would not have been justified in dismissing the employee in that situation, and she was therefore entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal under section 2 b of the Danish Salaried Employees Act.

Finally, the employee was awarded compensation of DKK 25 000 because the employer had failed to provide a statement of employment particulars, amounting to three weeks' pay.

 

Norrbom Vinding notes: 

  • that the judgment illustrates that a change in work responsibilities involving a loss of white-collar status will often be material

 

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