Unfortunately, 2020 is bringing scenarios where companies have to go through downsizing and lay off people for good. This article is about layoffs, and not about furloughs/permitteringer/temporary layoffs - for this topic, please check the articles here.
So what happens when the company wants to downsize?
After the management of the company has announced downsizing, you might get an invitation to a Discussion Meeting (Drøftelsesmøte) with the Manager and HR.
The invitation should be sent to you 2-3 days in advance. This will give you enough time to find someone who can represent your interests at this meeting. That could be a lawyer, Union Representative or anyone you trust and who can support you. You can also choose to not have a representative.
Always remember that the discussion meeting is simply a discussion, it is NOT a meeting where you are informed that you are laid off. The company must have a discussion with you before concluding this.
At the discussion meeting the company needs to discuss with you the following points. Let’s go through these one-by-one.
1. The company would need to explain the factual reasons for layoffs and what measures were taken to avoid it.
Usually downsizing relates to changes in the financial situation of the company. Ask at the meeting whether these changes are temporary or permanent. Permanent changes give stronger grounds for downsizing. If changes are temporary, the good question could be “why measures like furlough/permittering are not taken instead of downsizing”.
2. The company would need to explain what criteria they used to decide who can be potentially downsized in general and why they chose you in particular.
The factors which are usually considered are:
- seniority - how long one has been working in the company
- competence - both education and experience
- overall individual assessment - how downsizing will affect you socially
The company needs to be consistent and apply the same criteria to all of the employees. It might raise a red flag if people in one team were chosen on the basis of their competence and in another team - on the basis of how long they worked in the company.
3. The company would need to clarify whether there is a possibility of giving you a different position.
If there are any vacant relevant positions, the company would need to offer these to you.
4. The company should ask you for your input during the meeting on how downsizing can affect you personally.
Please, remember that this meeting is a dialogue. The company presents their side of the process and you need to present your side.
Think what impact the potential downsizing may have on you. It can be an economic impact, because you might have a mortgage. Some people could be alone mothers or fathers supporting 2 under-age kids. Some people might undergo medical treatment which costs a lot and causes a difficult time psychologically.
The company might not have any idea of what you are going through and they need to know these things at this point before the decision is taken. The company needs to take this into consideration, because overall individual assessment is one of the criteria which is used for taking the decision (as stated in point 2 above).
5. You can also ask any questions from your side and what would be the way forward.
What the Company can NEVER say at this meeting:
- Any variations of “You are fired” (because this is a discussion meeting and the conclusion has NOT been made. If it was, it is illegal).
- They cannot start offering you leaving packages (because this will imply that they have already taken the decision to proceed with your layoff, and as in the above point - this is illegal). However, you can ask the employer yourself about potential leaving packages or other compensation in case of layoff and the company can answer what the potential scenarios can be.
The company should also send you a copy of the protocol from the meeting. If you disagree with anything in the protocol, you should let your employer know. Do not sign the protocol unless you agree with what is stated there.
Only after the Discussion Meeting took place your Company can take the decision whether to terminate your contract or not. Next time I will talk about termination notice itself and the process further.
Any questions, you can always ask me here.