Workforce reductions: a brief explanation
- The employer must discuss the matter with each employee before making a decision regarding dismissal.
- You may request an employee representative to attend the consultation meeting, and minutes must be kept of the meeting.
- A dismissal must be objectively justified. If you feel that it is not, you may request negotiations with your employer. The time limit for this is 14 days.
- In a workforce reduction, the selection process for deciding who will be dismissed must be sound and must be based on objective selection criteria.
- As a NITO member you can receive legal assistance if you are dismissed. This assistance is provided free of charge to members.
Consultation meeting prior to dismissal
Before a decision regarding dismissal is made, the employer is obliged to discuss the matter with each employee. You have the right to have an union representative accompany you to the consultation meeting.
At this meeting, it is important that you inform the employer of all circumstances that may have a bearing on the final selection of redundant employees; for example, any competencies or social circumstances of which your employer may not be aware.
Minutes of this consultation meeting must be kept. It is important to check that the minutes present an accurate record of what was said at the meeting. Remember that your employer may use the minutes as evidence in a subsequent dispute concerning your dismissal.
What constitutes objective grounds for dismissal?
The Working Environment Act affords the individual employee protection against dismissal unless it is objectively justified by circumstances pertaining to the enterprise, the employer or the employee.
A dismissal made in connection with a workforce reduction process constitutes a dismissal based on the enterprise's circumstances. A concrete assessment of what constitutes objective grounds in such situations must be made on a case-by-case basis.
When an enterprise decides to dismiss multiple employees, the selection process must be sound. In addition to making individual assessments, the selection process must be objective.
The generally accepted objective selection criteria can be divided into three groups:
If you feel that your dismissal is not objectively justified or if you lack enough information to make an assessment, you may request negotiations with your employer. A request for negotiations must be submitted in writing within two weeks of receiving a notice of dismissal; see the Working Environment Act, section 17-3 .
Contact NITO for advice and assistance
If you feel that your dismissal was not objectively justified, you will receive assistance from NITO's secretariat at the negotiation meeting with your employer. At such a meeting we can assess whether or not your dismissal was objectively justified.
If no agreement is reached in the negotiations, NITO can consider further assistance in the legal system. If we find that there is legal basis for instituting legal proceedings, and if the employee desires this, all the costs of the process will be covered by NITO.