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Case Reports

2016/55 New Supreme Court decision on the distinction between independent contractors and employees (NO)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 4 2016
Keywords Independent contractors, Employees
Authors Marianne Jenum Hotvedt and Anne-Beth Engan
AbstractAuthor's information

    EU employment protection is usually limited to “employees”, meaning that independent contractors are not covered. However, EU law often leaves it to Member States to determine the meaning of employee. The directives regulating transfers of undertakings, collective redundancies, written working conditions, information and consultation, part-time work, temporary agency workers etc. are all examples of protection covering only ‘employees’ as defined by each Member State.
    Consequently, the interpretation of ‘employee’ at the national level determines whether protection in EU law applies. This case report concerns the distinction between an independent contractor and employee. The question was whether a support worker for a child needing extra care and support should be considered as employed by Ålesund municipality. The majority (4-1) found that the support worker was an employee. The case illustrates how the notion of employee in Norwegian law adapts to new ways of organising work and may be of interest in other jurisdictions.


Marianne Jenum Hotvedt
Marianne Jenum Hotvedt is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Private law, University in Oslo. In 2015, she got her Ph.D. on the thesis ‘The Employer Concept’.

Anne-Beth Engan
Anne-Beth Engan is an associate with Advokatfirmaet Selmer DA in Oslo.

    The Court of Appeal has given guidance on how to determine employment status in discrimination cases where the claimant is engaged on a case-by-case basis. The judgment confirms that the lack of mutual obligations between the putative employer and employee between assignments can be a relevant factor. If an individual is engaged on an assignment-by-assignment basis, with the freedom to turn down work when it is offered, this may imply a lack of subordination during the periods of work. The absence of an overarching ‘umbrella’ contract between assignments may therefore be relevant when determining whether an individual is protected by discrimination law.


Tom McEvoy
Tom McEvoy is a Trainee Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.

    The Industrial Disputes Court considered certain substantive and procedural issues in the context of a claim for sexual harassment and victimisation. This case provides a good illustration of the principles the tribunals apply when examining sexual harassment cases and how these are interpreted by Cypriot employment courts.


Anna Praxitelous
Anna Praxitelous is a lawyer with George Z. Georgiou & Associates LLC, www.gzg.com.cy. This article was originally edited by, and first published on, www.internationallawoffice.com.

    The Austrian Supreme Court has ruled that the general prohibition of Muslim face veils by an employer does not constitute unlawful discrimination. In this landmark decision, Austria’s Supreme Court expresses the view that an uncovered face is a prerequisite to proper communication. Thus, termination of employment by reason of an employee’s refusal to come to work unless she can wear a face veil is not unlawful under the Austrian Equal Treatment Act. Whether this rule also applies to other religious clothing such as headscarves remains to be seen.


Hans Georg Laimer
Hans Georg Laimer is a partner at zeiler.partners Rechtsanwälte GmbH.

Lukas Wieser
Lukas Wieser is an attorney at law at zeiler.partners Rechtsanwälte GmbH.
Case Reports

2016/45 Supreme Court rules on social security legislation applicable to temps posted abroad (PL)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Free movement, social security and temporary agency workers
Authors Marcin Wujczyk PhD
AbstractAuthor's information

    Temporary agency workers employed by a Polish agency and posted temporarily to France to work there under the direction of a French client are entitled to A1 certificates and, therefore, to remain governed by exclusively Polish social security legislation while working in France.


Marcin Wujczyk PhD
Marcin Wujczyk, PhD., is a partner with Ksiazek Bigaj Wujczyk in Krakow, www.ksiazeklegal.pl.

    If a collective agreement grants older employees a higher vacation claim solely because of their age, a younger employee is entitled to the same number of days of leave.


Paul Schreiner
Paul Schreiner and Jana Hunkemöller are, respectively, a partner in Essen and an associate in Düsseldorf with Luther Rechtsanwaltgesellschaft mbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.

Jana Hunkemöller
Case Reports

2016/48 Establishment of the European Work Council (SK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Work Council, establishment of the European Work Council
Authors Gabriel Havrilla and Dominika Šlesárová
AbstractAuthor's information

    Council Directive 94/45/EC (the ‘Directive’) determines the conditions for setting up a European Works Council or other means of providing information to employees in relation to employers that operate in more than one EU Member State. The aim of the Directive is to ensure employees are properly informed about their own employer and the company group operating in the EU, under their right to transnational information. In the case at hand, the courts needed to determine what conditions had to be met to set up a European Work Council and when a European Work Council would be established by operation of law.


Gabriel Havrilla
Gabriel Havrilla is a partner with Legal Counsels s.r.o., www.legalcounsels.sk.

Dominika Šlesárová
Dominika Šlesárová is a junior associate with Legal Counsels s.r.o., www.legalcounsels.sk.
Case Reports

2016/42 Court finds fixed-term employee eligible for contract of indefinite duration (CY)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Dismissal, conversion fixed term contracts
Authors Michalis Hadjigiovanni
AbstractAuthor's information

    Where an employee’s working time exceeds the 30 months prescribed by law, a fixed term contract will be converted into an indefinite term contract.


Michalis Hadjigiovanni
Michalis Hadjigiovanni is a lawyer with George Z. Georgiou & Associates LLC in Nicosia, www.gzg.com.cy.

    The French state was held liable by the Administrative Court of Clermont-Ferrand for failing to transpose Article 7§1 of EU Directive 2003/88/EC on working time.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux and Susan Ekrami are a partner and associate with Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, www.allenovery.com.

Susan Ekrami

    The Danish Supreme Court has ruled that a provision in a collective agreement allowing employers to pay reduced allowances for working in the evenings, on nights and at weekends to employees under the age of 25 in full-time education and working no more than 15 hours a week was not in conflict with the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act since it was justified by a legitimate aim.


Mariann Norrbom
Mariann Norrbom is a partner of Norrbom Vinding, Copenhagen, www.norrbomvinding.com.

    Article 60(1)(g) of the Romanian Labour Code does not allow an employer to dismiss trade union leaders for reasons other than disciplinary misconduct or judicial reorganisation, dissolution or bankruptcy of the employer. The Constitutional Court has recently ruled that Article 60(1)(g) is unconstitutional.


Andreea Suciu
Andreea Suciu is Head of Employment & Pensions with Noerr in Bucharest, www.noerr.com.

    A decision issued by the Constitutional Court on 3 March 2016 upholds a High Court decision on whether evidence obtained through video surveillance at the work place without previously informing the employee or the works council of the recording infringes employees’ privacy. The existence of cameras in the workplace was only made known via a sticker on the shop window, but the Constitutional Court found that it provided sufficient information to employees. The Court found that, as there was a prior suspicion of theft by the employee, temporary recording of the cashier area was lawful and did not require prior consent. The judgment sets out the criteria to be used to determine a fair balance between the competing interests of employee privacy and the employer’s right to compliance.


Sonia Cortes
Sonia Cortes is a partner with Abdón Pedrajas & Molero in Barcelona, www.abdonpedrajas.com. Special thanks to Isabel Ruano and Carla Baussa for their help in preparing this case report.

    For the fourth time in seven years, an Austrian court has asked the ECJ for guidance on the subject of age discrimination in pay scales. In this latest case, the period required to progress from step 1 to step 2 on the pay scale was longer than the period needed to progress from step 2 to step 3 and beyond. Does that constitute age discrimination? The author argues that it does, and that the arguments advanced to justify it are not valid.


Dr. Marta J. Glowacka
Dr. Marta J. Glowacka, LL.M. is an assistant professor at the Institute for Austrian and European Labour Law and Social Security Law at Vienna University of Economics and Business, www.wu.ac.at.

    Following the latest case law of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, it is not enough to state that an employee cannot work for a competitor during their employment. It is necessary to pay compensation in order for the non-compete obligation to be legally enforceable, because of the onerous nature of the obligation.


Inga Klimašauskienė
Inga Klimašauskienė is an Associate Partner at GLIMSTEDT in Vilnius, www.glimstedt.lt.

    In businesses employing fewer than ten employees, the rules on unfair dismissal do not apply. However, those on discrimination do. This fact made it possible for the 63 year-old employee in this case to claim damages, effectively for unfair dismissal. She had been dismissed following a reduction in the available work. She was selected for redundancy because she was less qualified than her colleagues. However, her termination letter mentioned that she had become “eligible for retirement”. This remark created a presumption of age discrimination, which the employer was not able to rebut.


Paul Schreiner

Dagmar Hellenkemper
Paul Schreiner and Dagmar Hellenkemper are lawyers with Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, www.luther-lawfirm.com.

    The Supreme Court in this case establishes conditions to be met in order for the member of a Board of Directors to qualify as a self-employed “entrepreneur”. In light of these conditions, Directors must be considered to have the status of “individual contractor”, obligating them to pay increased social security contributions.


Marcin Wujczyk Ph.D.
Marcin Wujczyk, Ph.D., is a partner with Ksiazek & Bigaj in Krakow, www.ksiazeklegal.pl.

    The Belgian Labour Court decided in this case that the attitude/behaviour of an employer towards an employee constitutes harassment and discrimination, as the behaviour was such that the employee could have had the impression that he could lose his job because of his state of health. The employee resumed work after long-term incapacity owing to heart disease, but only on a part-time basis.
    The Court considered that the successive actions of the employer towards his employee were aimed at ending his employment rather than actively promoting reintegration. Such behaviour, on the facts, could be considered as harassment and discrimination.
    Moreover, the Court specified that the health of the employee, who had partially resumed work after being off sick for heart disease, could be regarded as a disability in accordance with EU Directive 2000/78. The Court explicitly referred to the ECJ HK Danmark case.


Isabel Plets

Karl Goethals
Isabel Plets and Karl Goethals are lawyers with Lydian in Brussels, www.lydian.be.

    An employer that fails to comply with an occupational doctor’s recommendation regarding an employee’s health, as it relates to his job, is in breach of its health and safety obligations.


Delphine Levy Karcenty
Delphine Levy Karcenty is an avocat with Jeantet in Paris, www.jeantet.fr.
Case Reports

2016/33 Supreme Court clarifies rules on redundancy selection methods (NO)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Redundancy selection
Authors Tore Lerheim and Ole Kristian Olsby
AbstractAuthor's information

    The basic rule in Norwegian law is that an employer planning to reduce headcount must apply the rules for selecting those to be dismissed (based on seniority, qualifications, personal circumstances, etc.) to the entire workforce within the relevant legal entity. However, there are circumstances under which the employer may limit the pool of employees within which to apply those rules. In this case, the employer was justified in limiting that pool to one employee, thereby avoiding the need to make a selection.


Tore Lerheim
Tore Lerheim and Ole Kristian Olsby are partners with Homble Olsby advokatfirma in Oslo, www.Homble-olsby.no.

Ole Kristian Olsby

    An ‘independent contractor’ working for a company in a subordinate relationship should be considered as a de facto employee. In such a situation, the company and its legal representatives can be held liable for ‘concealed work’ and be subject to criminal penalties.


Charles Mathieu
Charles Mathieu is a lawyer with Jeantet in Paris, www.jeantet.fr.
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