Topics within the scope of the change negotiation obligation
The topics on which the employer must hold change negotiations with the personnel are laid down in section 16, subsections 1 and 2 of the Act on Co-operation.
Pursuant to subsection 1, employment contract terminations, lay-offs or reductions of the em-ployment contract to a part-time contract concerning one or more employees and unilateral changes to essential conditions of the employment contract, as considered by the employer, fall within the scope of the negotiation obligation. In all these measures, it is a question of reducing the use of the personnel due to financial or production reasons.
In addition, pursuant to subsection 2, change negotiations must be held when the employer is con-sidering making major changes, within the scope of the employer’s power of management and influencing the position of one or more employees, to duties or work methods or arrangements of work, work premises or regular working hours.
Such major changes may be caused by the following:
- The closure of the company or the organisation or any part thereof, its transfer to another place or expansion or reduction of its operations. If the closure of the company or any part thereof or its transfer to another place creates a need to terminate employees’ employ-ment contracts or to change their essential terms, the matter falls within the negotiation obligation laid down in section 16, subsection 1.
- Acquisitions of machinery and equipment or the deployment of new technology. This may be, for example, an information system or programme to be generally deployed at the workplace or otherwise needed by employees in their work.
- Changes made to the organisation of work or work arrangements. If the re-arrangement of work causes major changes in the duties of individual employees, such personnel impacts should be discussed in change negotiations.
- Changes in the service production or the product range. A change, even a partial one, to the company’s product range may create a need to change the arrangements of regular working hours, for example.
- Use of external labour and changes made to it. For the deployment of external labour and related changes to fall within the scope of the negotiation obligation, they must influence the work of employees who already work for the company or the organisation.
- Other changes comparable to the above.
A change must be considered major if its effect on duties, work arrangements or other similar matters can be considered to be larger than ordinary. A change that has only a minor effect on the position of employees do not require change negotiations. What qualifies as essential is assessed individually and from the perspective of the employee affected by the change, but is nevertheless on the basis of objective criteria.