Partner Jurgita Venckutė represented Lithuania in an annual EELA (European Employment Law Association) conference, which took place in Prague (Czech Republic) on 19-21th May. Jurgita led the panel discussion of international law firms Squire Patton Boggs (Warsaw office), Roschier (Stokholm office) and Schweibert Leßmann & Partner (Germany). Panel members shared their insights on the topic “Management Employees: Where the Roads of Employment Law and Company Law Cross”. The panel presented results of the international research on regulation and prevailing practices of employment relations of management employees in different European countries.
Management employees, together with the CEO, take the responsibility of main business decisions and have a significant influence on business’ effectiveness. They also are subject to higher ethics and trust standards.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the business change, management employees are protected by the same employment law rules as all the others. The laws and courts in different European countries suggest several approaches on how to solve this problem.
The research has revealed that the law in different European countries does not always define the status of management employees. Therefore important business interests might not be secure.
Germany, Norway or Denmark could be taken as good examples of clarity. In these countries, special rules apply for management employees. Their employment relations are more flexible. For example, in Norway, employment contracts of management employees can include waivers of standard dismissal procedures in exchange with larger severance pay. Other European countries (Estonia, Romania, Germany) allow employment contracts of management employees to be substituted with service agreements.
In countries, where employment law protects all employees without exclusion (usually except the CEO, who is subject to company law) court disputes related to management changes or responsibilities are more likely. In these jurisdictions (e.g. Sweden, Poland, Lithuania), relevant legal rules were developed by case law. In such cases, courts usually recognise more flexible conditions to dismiss employees on disciplinary grounds. The trust of the employer may prevail social guaranties. Courts usually examine if management employees do not abuse protective employment laws.
Research, made for EELA conference and the insights of international law firms’ partners revealed the increasing relevance of legal issues around management changes and management liability in Europe.
European Employment Lawyers Association (EELA) was established in 1996 and unites employment law experts from all over the Europe. Annual European Employment Law Conference started at 1997 and this year attracted more than 400 lawyers. It is the main event of employment law in Europe. During the conference, lawyers exchange the newest tendencies on employment law, insights and experience gained in different jurisdictions.