Expertise

Elmzell is one of the leading labour and employment law practices in Swden. Highly ranked by independent legal directories, we guarantee comprehensive and high quality assistance for our clients both in Sweden and internationally.

 

Our practice areas:

  • Employment Agreement

    An employment agreement is a contract between an employer and employee. An employment agreement should be in writing, may be brief and simple, but it may sometimes contain a long series of provisions. The primary purpose of an employment agreement is to govern the parties' relationship during the employment, but it also governs its termination, for example notice periods, any benefits upon termination, and restrictions which apply following termination of the employment.

    We have over 20 years of experience in drafting various types of employment agreements. We often serve as advisers and sounding boards for HR and other departments responsible for personnel and recruiting in conjunction with the drafting of employment agreements.

    We assist and advice on a variety of matters, including:

    • Reviewing existing employment agreements
    • Redefining/Modifying employment terms and conditions 
    • Drafting new employment agreements
    • Non-competition clauses
    • Confidentiality clauses
    • Pension terms and conditions
    • Applications for work permits and residency permits
  • Restructuring

    Company restructuring can happen for many reasons, although the most common reasons are commercial, for example increased efficiency, competition, relocation of operations, and insufficient profitability. While an employer has an extensive right to organise and adapt its business, there are employee protection rules that must be taken into consideration.

    Company restructuring often requires careful considerations – both purely legal and strategic.

    We assist large multinational companies with more comprehensive reorganisations and cutbacks as well as smaller and medium-sized companies that are making these changes for various commercial reasons.

    We offer advice and assistance in many areas:

    • Legal considerations in conjunction with a planned reorganisation
    • Strategizing and planning the reorganisation, e.g. reassignment and issues relating to the first-in-first-out principle
    • Information to the employees
    • Conducting consultations with trade unions
    • Modifying employment terms and conditions
    • Drafting termination documents and/or so-called termination/separation agreements 
  • Terminating Employment

    The purpose of the Swedish Employment Protection Act is to protect employees; and it contains a series of rules regarding how, and under what circumstances, an employer may terminate an employee's employment.

    An employer who wishes to terminate an employee's employment may do so in the following three cases:

    • Termination due to redundancy
    • Termination for personal reasons
    • Summary dismissal

    Terminating employment, regardless of the reasons, always requires skilful legal advice and a good knowledge of law and precedent. Wrongful termination of employment or wrongful summary dismissal can become very costly in terms of both time and money. We therefore recommend that such measures never be taken without first obtaining legal advice.

    Nevertheless, an employer and an employee are always entitled to agree that the employment will end.
    We also assist with advice regarding this type of agreements and with drafting necessary documentation.

    Termination for personal reasons and summary dismissal

    In the case of summary dismissal, employment terminates with immediate effect, and in the case of termination for personal reasons, following the relevant notice period. An employer who wishes to summarily dismiss or terminate an employee for personal reasons must show objective grounds. In addition, the Employment Protection Act imposes a number of formal requirements regarding the structuring of the notice of termination/summary dismissal and the deadlines by which an employer must act. It is therefore important that the employer act promptly in this type of matter.

    Wrongful termination of employment or wrongful summary dismissal can become very costly in terms of both time and money. We therefore recommend that such measures never be taken without first obtaining legal advice.

    The services which we offer include the following:

    • Legal assessment before a pending or already implemented termination or summary dismissal
    • Advice prior to a termination or summary dismissal 
    • Drafting of termination or summary dismissal documents
    • Consultations pursuant to the Employment Protection Act
    • Drafting termination/separation agreements as an alternative to termination or summary dismissal
    • Conducting consultations to resolve disputes
    • Litigating before a court or an arbitral tribunal in termination and summary dismissal disputes

    Termination due to redundancy

    An employer in Sweden has an extensive right to make changes to its operations for financial or business-related reasons. Such changes to the organisation may give rise to terminations due to redundancy. The Swedish Co-Determination at Workplace Act and the Swedish Employment Protection Act set out a number of rules, which must be taken into consideration in these situations, such as the employer’s obligation to consult with the employees’ trade unions, and rules regarding reassignment and priority lists.

    We assist with terminations associated with reorganisations and the winding up of lines of business and entire businesses. This includes:

    • Legal assessment of pending or implemented reorganisations and/or terminations
    • Strategizing and planning the reorganisation, for example reassignment and priority lists
    • Consultations with trade unions
    • Preparing necessary risk assessments
    • Drafting termination documents and/or so-called termination/separation agreements
    • Drafting termination/separation agreements as an alternative to termination or summary dismissal
    • Conducting dispute resolution consultations
    • Litigating before a court or an arbitral tribunal in termination disputes
  • Collective Agreements and Trade Union Consultations

    To a great extent, Swedish employment law is governed through collective agreements, entered into by labour market parties, to which an employer is bound if it belongs to an employer’s organisation or has a so-called application agreement directly with a trade union. Even if an employer is not formally bound by a collective agreement, such agreements nevertheless have great significance on the labour market as a whole and set the standard for best practice on the labour market.

    The Swedish Co-Determination at the Workplace Act is the legislation which primarily governs the employer's obligations to inform and consult with employee organisations on important issues. Sound knowledge of the Co-Determination at the Workplace Act is thus a fundamental prerequisite for fulfilling these obligations and successful communicating with the trade unions.

    We have many years of experience working with these issues and offer advice and assistance in areas including the following:

    • Co-Determination consultations, for example in the event of organisational changes or terminations
    • Interpretation and drafting of collective agreements
    • Industrial actions 
  • Transfer of Business

    The Swedish Employment Protection Act and the Swedish Co-Determination at the Work Act contain rules regarding transfers of operations. The rules are a result of adapting Swedish employment law to EU requirements and are applicable in the event of a transfer of all or part of a company's operations from one employer to another. The employees and their employment agreements are also transferred to the new employer when such a transfer takes place. Before a transfer is carried out, the employer is obligated to consult with relevant trade unions.

    We have many years of experience applying the rule regarding transfers of business and the services we can offer include the following:

    • Assessment of whether or not a planned transaction is a transfer of operations
    • Planning and strategic considerations prior to a transfer of operations
    • Consultations with trade unions and individual employees
    • Information to the employees
    • Terms and negotiation of the transfer agreement between the buyer and seller of the operations 
  • Non-Competition Clauses

    Most employers today are highly dependent on their employees' know-how and experience. In order to stay competitive in an increasingly competitive and globalised market, the employer must also protect itself in various ways. Since the departure of key personnel is devastating for many employers, employers have increased their use of non-competition clauses of various types in order to protect their interests.

    A non-competition clause governs the relationship between the employer and the employee following termination of the employment. A traditional non-competition clause usually provides that an employee undertakes not to compete or to participate in competing operations during a limited time following termination of the employment. A non-competition clause may be declared invalid by a court if it is found to extend beyond that which can be deemed reasonable. However, an employer's primary interest is not always in preventing employees from leaving for a competitor. In many cases, the same protection can be obtained using clauses which prohibit former employees from taking clients with them or attempting to recruit the employer's employees into a competing business.

  • Trade Secrets

    In addition to the use of non-competition and confidentiality clauses in employment agreements, the employer's trade secrets are protected by the Swedish Trade Secrets Act. Trade secrets are defined as information concerning the business or operational circumstances of an undertaking's business which the undertaking keeps secret and the disclosure of which is likely to cause damage in respect of competition. These may include financial information, information regarding agreements or pending contract negotiations, pricing information, customer lists, and marketing plans, as well as other matters.

    The Act provides protection only against unauthorised infringement of trade secrets. This means either that someone gains access to or acquires a trade secret (industrial espionage), or that someone intentionally or negligently uses a undertaking's trade secret which he or she learned in conjunction with a business relationship or employment. Industrial espionage is subject to criminal sanctions while a person who uses or discloses trade secrets learned in confidence in conjunction with a business relationship or employment may only incur liability in damages. As a result of the limited protection offered by the Trade Secrets Act, it is important to review the need for confidentiality and non-competition clauses in the employment agreements of key individuals.

    We have significant experience regarding the application of the Trade Secrets Act and can offer advice and assistance in litigation in order to protect the employer's interests. For example, it is common in trade secret litigation to take various security measures through a judicial proceeding.

  • Work Environment and Working Hours

    The Swedish Work Environment Act and the Swedish Work Environment Authority impose extensive responsibility on an employer for the physical and social work environment of the employees. An employer must systematically plan, manage, and monitor the business such that the work environment fulfils the requirements for a good work environment as defined by law.

    We offer advice and training in:

    • Implementation of systematic work environment management
    • Organisational and social work environment
    • Delegation of tasks in respect of work environment issues
    • Working hours issues
    • Drafting a work environment policy, prior to, during, or as a result of an inspection by the Swedish Work Environment Authority
    • Support for the employer in conjunction with illness and rehabilitation 
  • Discrimination

    The purpose of the Swedish Discrimination Act is to combat discrimination and in other ways promote equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other religious belief, disability, sexual orientation, or age. The Act protects both employees and any person who enquires about or applies for work, applies for or carries out a traineeship, or is available to perform work or is performing work as temporary or borrowed labour. There are also rules prohibiting discrimination against individuals on parental leave or part-time employees, as well as individuals on fixed-term employment.

    An employer must be aware of these issues and know what they mean. It is also important that the organisation knows about, and can address, situations where discrimination issues may arise. This applies primarily to recruitment situations.

    We often hold courses, adapted to the specific company, in order to train managers for the purpose of preventing discrimination. We also have comprehensive experience representing employers in contact with the Equality Ombudsman and in conjunction with, for example, lawsuits.

  • HR Policies

    An employer with a competitively advantageous personnel policy creates significant goodwill amongst both its employees and outsiders. A carefully considered personnel policy means that the employer cares about both soft values, such as workplace satisfaction, parental leave policies, and about purely financial benefits for the employees in the form of, for example, incentive programmes, supplementary pension insurance policies, medical care insurance, enhanced parental allowances, and extended holidays. The legislation also imposes requirements for certain policies, including, among others, work environment policies, equal wage action plans, and non-discrimination policies.

    Clear guidelines regarding how the employees may act in the course of their employment is also of paramount importance to an employer. These guidelines may be addressed in an employee handbook and/or separate policies. These include, for example, secrecy and confidentiality policies, use of the employer's property (such as computers and mobile telephones), and social media policies. Clear and well-implemented policies create conditions for employers to take employment law measures in the event of noncompliance. Another advantage of policies is that the employer may change policy, either unilaterally or, in some cases, following discussions with relevant trade unions.

    Elmzell offers, among other things, the following:

    • Advice regarding the policies which an employer must have
    • Drafting necessary policies
    • Reviewing and updating an employer's existing policies 
  • Disputes

    The majority of disputes, which arise between employers and employees, are resolved through negotiations without the matter needing to go before a court or arbitral tribunal. We believe that in order to achieve a favourable result in negotiation, it is crucial that the lawyer who provides advice and handles the negotiations also has the knowledge and experience to bring the matter before a court or arbitral tribunal.

    Employment law litigation is one of our core practice areas and a number of our lawyers have a great many years of experience in courts of general jurisdiction, the Labour Court, and arbitral tribunals. The litigation that we handle often involves termination or summary dismissal disputes, but our long and extensive experience applies to all types of employment disputes.