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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.

James Davies
James Davies is Joint Head of Employment team at Lewis Silkin LLP in London, www.lewissilkin.com.

    The Supreme Court of Lithuania recently affirmed that the courts have no competence to assess the merits of an employer’s decision to restructure and make staff redundant, as the decision was at the employer’s discretion to make.


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

    The employee, a public servant, criticised her employer’s director in an email that she sent all of her co-workers. The email made its way into a newspaper. She was dismissed. She challenged her dismissal successfully: the Supreme Court, weighing the employee’s right to freedom of speech against the employer’s right to protect its reputation and business interests, held the dismissal to be unfounded.


Nives Slemenjak
Nives Slemenjak is an associate at Schoenherr, in Ljubljana: www.schoenherr.eu.
ECtHR Court Watch

ECtHR 12 January 2016, application 61496/08. (Bărbulescu), Fundamental Rights

Bărbulescu –v– Romania, Romanian case

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 1 2016
Keywords Fundamental Rights
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