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Are employers required to give notice of termination?

Employees are entitled to a statutory minimum notice period according to the Act Respecting Labourers’ Right to Advance Notice of Termination of Employment and Wages on Account of Absence through Illness and Accidents (19/1979). The act establishes the following minimum rights: 

  • after one year of continuous employment with the same employer – one month's notice;
  • after three years of continuous employment with the same employer – two months' notice; and
  • after five years of continuous employment with the same employer – three months' notice.

An employee who is entitled to one of the above notice periods must give the same notice if he or she wants to terminate his or her employment.

Collective agreements contain provisions on notice periods which are applicable during and after the first year of employment. The length of an employee’s notice period varies between collective agreements, but is usually three months for long-term employment.

Employers must respect the rules on notice of termination, unless the employee has, by intent or gross negligence, seriously violated the employment contract. Serious violations can justify rescission of the employment contract. 

Employees who are deprived of their right to notice of termination can claim damages equivalent to his or her loss during the notice period. 

What are the rules that govern redundancy procedures?

General rules on termination apply to redundancy procedures. Employers and employees can generally end employment contracts without reason.

Employees are generally hired under permanent employment contracts, which means that the contract can be terminated once the applicable notice period ends. Termination notice is mutual and terminations must be executed in writing and in the same language as the employee’s employment contract.

Terminated employees have a right to a final interview with their employer to discuss the reasons for termination. Further, employees can request these reasons to be stated in writing.

Are there particular rules for collective redundancies/mass layoffs?

The Collective Redundancies Act (63/2000) governs collective redundancies and mass layoffs. According to the act, ‘collective dismissals’ are defined as terminations within 30 days for reasons that are unrelated to the employees’ performance and which affect:

  • at least 10 workers in enterprises employing more than 20 but fewer than 100 persons;
  • at least 10% of all workers in enterprises employing more than 100 but fewer than 300 persons; or
  • at least 30 workers in enterprises employing at least 300 workers.

An employer contemplating a collective dismissal must consult with the employees’ representatives and provide them with an opportunity to propose alternative solutions in order to avoid or limit the number of dismissals or minimise their impact. The employer must provide all relevant information to the employees’ representative body. The employer must also notify its regional employment office of the proposed redundancies.

What protections do employees have on dismissal?

Certain categories of employee enjoy protection against termination.

According to the Act on Maternity/Paternity Leave and Parental Leave (95/2000), employers cannot dismiss a worker because he or she has given notice of intended maternity, paternity or parental leave or during maternity, paternity or parental leave without reasonable cause. The same rule applies to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth.

Employees enjoy further protections under the Act on the Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men (96/2000), which prohibits dismissal on the basis of gender.

Under the Prohibition on Termination of Employment due to Family Responsibilities Act (27/2000), an employee may not be dismissed solely due to family responsibilities.

According to the Act on Workers' Rights in the Event of Transfers of Undertakings (72/2002), a transfer of undertakings constitutes valid grounds for dismissal. However, this does not prevent dismissals for economic, technical or organisational reasons entailing changes in the workforce.

According to the Act on Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes (80/1938), trade union members are protected against dismissals which are based on their duties as union representatives.

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