New cases from the Danish High Court on relocation of work place

Date 23 maj. 2011

 

A relocation of work place may constitute a material change to the employment conditions, which an employee is not obligated to accept without notice. However, an employee may be obligated to accept the change before expiry of the notice period against economic compensation during the notice period.

 

When assessing whether or not a reloaction is a material change to the employment conditions for the employee, the courts have so far attached importance to the consequences which the relocation in question may have to the employee as regards increase in commute and/or increase of transport costs. Also, the availability of public transportation is considered an important factor.


The High Court has now ruled in three cases within the public sector on relocation of SKAT’s work place in connection with the structural reform. The relocation involved an increase of the distance to the work place in each direction of between 21.2 km. and 26 km. The consequence was an increase in commute of 30 minutes. One employee chose another work place with SKAT which entailed even longer commuting time.


In all the cases, the High Court did not find that the changes could be considered material changes to the employment terms since the changes in relation to the relocation did not exceed what the employees had to accept without compensation. This also applied to the employee who had chosen a work place situated even further away.


The assessment of whether the change is material or not has often been made based on the situation of the individual employee. Factors such as improved/poorer transport options, bringing, caring for and picking up children etc. and also if the location of the work place was an important condition for the employee in connection with the employment. Such special individual matters have lead to even limited increases in commute being considered material.


In its decision, the High Court did not attach special importance to these factors which was probably due to the fact that the relocation of the work place formed part of a large, national change in SKAT’s activities. Under normal circumstances, the abovementioned individual matters will thus probably still be relevant to include in the assessment even though the number of kilometers and indications of time in the high court decisions must be expected to be considered important too.

 

 

If you have any questions or require additional information on work place relocation, please contact Attorney Dan Moalem (dmo@mwblaw.dk) or Assistant Attorney Pinar Gökcen (pgo@mwblaw.dk).

 

The above does not constitute legal counselling and Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen does not warrant the accuracy of the information. With the above text, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen has not assumed responsibility of any kind as a consequence of a reader’s use of the above as a basis of decisions or considerations.