In an April 29 2011 decision the Danish Supreme Court considered whether changes to a number of employees' working conditions were to be regarded as material, where their workplace was moved in connection with reforms to the municipal structure.
If an employer changes an employee's terms of employment, an assessment must be made as to whether the changes are material. If the changes are not material, the employee must accept them and the changes can come into force with immediate effect. However, if the changes are material, they must be notified to the employee along with his or her individual notice period. In such case the employee can choose either to consider this a dismissal or to continue working under the revised terms.
The case in question involved a number of employees whose workplace moved as a result of reforms to the Danish municipal structure. The employee who was most severely affected found that her daily commute was extended by 16 minutes (26 kilometres) in each direction between her home and the new workplace. The employee argued that this change in workplace constituted a material change to her terms of employment, and that consequently it could not come into force until after her notice period had expired. As such, she maintained that the increased commuting time during her notice period constituted working time for which she should be paid, and that she was entitled to receive a mileage allowance during the notice period.
The Danish Supreme Court held that the employee's increased commute did not comprise a material change in the employment relationship and consequently awarded no compensation or mileage allowance for her increased commute.
The judgment illustrates that an increased commute of 16 minutes is insufficient to constitute a material change which must be notified to the employee along with his or her individual notice period. Consequently, the employee must accept such a change without notification, irrespective of any inconvenience involved in this respect.
For further information on this topic please contact Tina Reissmann at Plesner by telephone (+45 33 12 11 33), fax (+45 33 12 00 14) or email ([email protected]).