Digital disputation: Anette Pernille Hemmingby
Cand. Jur. Anette Pernille Hemmingby will be defending the thesis Unilateral Change of Economic Benefits in the Employment Relationship for the degree of Ph.D.
Original title: Ensidig endring av økonomiske ytelser i arbeidsavtaleforhold
The disputation will be held in Norwegian
Anette Pernille Hemmingby
Photo: Norwegian Business School BI
The disputation will be digital and streamed directly using Zoom. You can download zoom or use your browser.
- Professor dr. juris Alf Petter Høgberg, University of Oslo (leader)
- Professor dr. juris Rune Sæbø, University of Bergen (1. opponent)
- Professor dr. juris Ann Numhauser-Henning, Lunds university (2. opponent)
Chair of defence
Dean Ragnhild Helene Hennum
- Professor emeritus Stein Evju
- Accociate professor Herman Bruserud
- Professor Johann Mulder
Need for alternations
Within employment relationships, it will occasionally be necessary with changes and alternations with regards to the parties' mutual rights and obligations. The employment relationship itself is typically an ongoing contractual relationship where benefits are not necessarily regulated in detail. It is dynamic and implies an assumption for change during the course of the contract.
The employer's need to make alternations may vary. A business is in constant change and is affected by fluctuations in both internal and external relations. Such changes may involve adjustments in the day-to-day running of the business, but there may also be questions of major or minor changes because the conditions for running the business change. Social conditions are not static. Neither are market conditions or other economic conditions.
The need for, or desire to make changes can be part of a survival strategy triggered by a difficult market, a “rescue operation” due to investments that have failed, or major changes in socio-economic conditions. The financial crisis in 2008–2009 is one example of the latter, the Covid-19 pandemic which hit the world during the spring of 2020, another.
Different types of alternations
The type of changes which is needed, will also vary. The employer’s prerogatives give the employer a number of opportunities to make various changes and adjustments of an operational, production or strategic nature, and to make changes within the organization. Examples are restructuring of a business with reorganization of work tasks or working hours, change of workplace, relocation of a business, or downsizing.
It is clear that the employer may, provided certain circumstances and in accordance with applicable law, dismiss employees. But the employer can also make alternations in the existing employment relationship. This may, for example, involve restructuring of operations, reallocation of personnel or re-training of certain employees.
Adjustment may however also involve a change or revocation of various forms of economical obligations the employer has towards the employees. "Economical obligations" is a broad expression. Salary can be seen as the employer's main benefit under the employment contract and is traditionally a benefit with protection against change. However, working life is constantly changing, and the line between traditional wages and other forms of financial compensation may be blurred. Today, it is not uncommon – at least in some areas of working life – with various forms of bonus arrangements, over-average pension and sick pay arrangements, insurance, and various other forms of economical and salary-like benefits. Occasionally, these benefits may also be more important to the employee than the traditional salary.
A tool in the assessment of margins
The theme of the thesis is related to the question of the ability the employer has when it comes to changes in various types of economic obligations. By examining which mechanisms control and influence the question, the intention has been to create a tool which can be used as a basis for assessing the employer's right to change.
The questions are both practical and relevant, especially as part of a restructuring processes. For many companies, it could be a matter of existing or not if the crisis hits. In times of economic decline – and also otherwise – a company may need to re-allocate resources in order to adapt the company to the market. Hopefully, the thesis will be useful when approaching the questions, although it can probably not be assumed to give the concrete and complete answers desired in such a situation.