If you unilaterally change a fundamental element of your employee’s employment contract, it may be considered an implied dismissal. The employee can then claim this modification as a contract termination and demand a severance indemnity. However, only substantial changes are taken into account, while minor changes are not considered implied dismissals.
The Court of Cassation recently clarified the criterion to determine whether a modification is significant, based on the extent to which the fundamental element has been altered.
It is essential to note that if an employee stops working in response to a unilateral modification, they risk being accused of a breach of their contractual obligations. If the modification is not deemed significant by the judge, the employee may be held responsible for their work absence. Therefore, it is advisable for employers to carefully consider before altering a fundamental element of the employment contract to avoid undesirable consequences.
Although recent case law has increased the risk of a boomerang effect in case the employee invokes an implied dismissal, it is still recommended to act cautiously in such situations.
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