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Supreme Court of Denmark

Relocating a civil servant’s place of duty did not entitle her to redundancy pay 

Case no. 54/2019

Judgment delivered on 28 January 2020

Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq
Atorfillit Kattuffiat acting for A

Relocating A’s place of duty from Tasiilaq to Nuuk could not be regarded as abolition of her position, and A was thus not entitled to redundancy pay

In 2015, Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq relocated A’s place of duty from Tasiilaq to Nuuk. As she did not wish to work in Nuuk, she was released from duty with three months’ salary. The issue in this case concerned whether A was entitled to three years’ redundancy pay according to the Greenlandic Act on Civil Servants.

The Supreme Court based its decision on the fact that the only change of A’s position was the relocation of the place of duty. Her position was thus not abolished, but merely relocated.  

The Supreme Court stated that a decision on whether a civil servant’s position should be regarded as having been abolished under the Danish Act on Civil Servants requires a specific assessment of whether the content of the position has been changed to such an extent that it corresponds to abolition of the position. It must be assessed whether the changes to the position are so fundamental that it has in actual fact become a completely different position.

The Supreme Court held that, according to the wording of and the legislative history behind the Greenlandic Act on Civil Servants, a similar assessment must be made when considering whether a civil servant’s position has been abolished. In this assessment of whether the position has been abolished, the actual content of the position is the deciding factor, while no regard can be had to whether relocating the place of duty will have a negative impact on the civil servant’s personal life in general. Also, the Supreme Court did not find that regard should be had to the civil servant’s age or seniority in the position.

As the content, scope and nature of A’s position did not change after the relocation, the Supreme Court held that the position could not be regarded as having been abolished, and A was thus not entitled to redundancy pay.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights could not lead to a different outcome.

The High Court had reached a different conclusion.

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