Fulfilment of the negotiation obligation
The negotiation obligation is considered to be fulfilled when some of the change negotiations have been carried out according to the procedure provisions set for them.
14-day negotiation period
If negotiations are related to employment contract terminations, lay-offs or reductions of the employment contract to a part-time contract concerning fewer than 10 employees or unilateral changes to essential conditions of the employment contract, the negotiations must be carried out for 14 days.
In addition, this 14-day negotiation period is always applied when the employer is under a restructuring procedure, the employer regularly employs fewer than 30 employees or the negotiations only concern lay-offs for a maximum of 90 days.
In individual cases, the parties may agree on a period shorter than this after the negotiations have started.
Six-week negotiation period
If the change negotiations are not subject to the 14-day negotiation period and nothing is agreed otherwise, a six-week negotiation period is applied.
Negotiations cannot be divided into an actual smaller amount
The duration of the negotiation period (14 days or six weeks) is determined by the temporal connection of the matter at hand. Negotiations may not be divided into smaller parts to apply to a smaller number of employees or a shorter lay-off than what the case is actually about.
Calculation of the negotiation period
The negotiation period is considered as having started from the date when the first negotiation meeting is organised.
For example, if the negotiation period is 14 days and the first negotiation meeting is on, say, 3 April, the negotiation obligation is fulfilled on 16 April. In this case, the employer may make the decision at the earliest on 17 April.
The Act does not contain a requirement on how often negotiations must actually take place during the negotiation period. The number of negotiation meetings depends on the nature of the matter and on practical needs.
However, the fulfilment of the negotiation period requirement alone is not enough; instead, the change negotiations must fulfil the content requirements set for them.