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HomeCOVID-19: Specific measures for handling the reduced need for manpower

COVID-19: Specific measures for handling the reduced need for manpower

Businesses are currently experiencing a significantly reduced need for manpower. However, which options does the employer have of sending employees home on short or medium term notice?
16 March 2020

Initially, the employer may instruct its employees to take any remaining holidays, which would have to be taken before 30 April anyway, and/or special holidays. Normally, the employer must give one month’s notice of remaining holidays. The same typically applies in respect of special holidays. However, the notice to be given for remaining holidays may be waived, if “special conditions” so dictate. Considering the Danish Prime Minister’s statements in the past few days, special conditions exist that immediately entitle the employer to take certain measures, when a material decline in the workload is experienced.

A quick solution to solving the reduced requirement for manpower here and now would therefore be to instruct employees to take any remaining holidays and special holidays on a shorter notice than 1 month. As for special holidays, the notice rules are the same as for remaining holidays. In this way, the employees contribute to financing part of the costs, if they are sent home without the possibility of working from their homes.

Prior to giving notice of holidays, we recommend that an extraordinary meeting of the works council, if any, be held, at which meeting the council is informed about the shortened notice of remaining holiday/special holidays.

However, businesses may experience that employees have already taken their remaining holidays or have already planned their holidays and/or special holidays, and therefore this model may not necessarily solve the problem here and now.

As for hourly-paid/non-salaried employees, another obvious alternative exists, as employers in the industrial sector may apply the rules on division of labour in the Collective Agreement for Danish Industry. Thereby, the employer will in certain circumstances have the possibility of reducing the employees’ weekly hours and wages.

In addition, on 15 March 2020, the Government announced a new COVID-19 initiative in the form of a tripartite agreement for compensation of wages and salaries, which is particularly relevant for private undertakings.

The rules on compensation of wages and salaries will be reviewed in a newsletter, which Gorrissen Federspiel will issue soon. The newsletter will focus on the background of the tripartite agreement and the conditions for receiving compensation for wages and salaries, including how private undertakings are specifically compensated.

Should you have any questions in respect of the above, please contact attorney Jacob Sand.

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