international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Sweden: Labour Court rules on so-called provoked resignation

The Labour Court initially stated that a resignation by an employee is, as a main rule, binding and results in termination of the employment. However, if the employee´s resignation was prompted by the employer and if the employer thereby acted contrary to good practice on the labour market or otherwise improperly, the resignation may be considered as a dismissal by the employer, a so-called provoked resignation. It is sufficient that the employer realised that the employer’s actions (or lack of actions) resulted in a difficult situation for the employee, and thus in a risk of him or her leaving the employment. Accordingly, it is not required that the employer directly sought to induce the employee to leave the employment.

The trade union of G.R.P. claimed poor working conditions and that G.R.P. had been subject to, inter alia, social exclusion and derogatory and offensive comments by the company’s store management because of her Romani origin. Despite the fact that G.R.P. had repeatedly reported serious deficiencies regarding the work environment, the company had not taken any actions. According to the trade union, the company’s lack of action had caused the resignation of G.R.P. In contradiction, the employer claimed that G.R.P.’s resignation was based on a conflict between her and a co-worker. According the company, G.R.P. had not informed the company of the deficiencies in the work environment and it had therefore not been possible for the company to take any measures to remedy the alleged deficiencies or to realize that they had created a situation that made it difficult for G.R.P. to continue the employment.

The Labour Court stated that the information presented by the parties was contradictory. Although the court considered it to be proven that G.R.P. had experienced the work environment as unsatisfactory, it could not be determined whether it was the actions of the store management or the conflict between G.R.P.’s and the co-worker that had caused the resignation. Nor was it proven that G.R.P. had informed the company of the store management’s behaviour. Against this background, the Labour Court concluded that it had not been proven that the company had acted improperly or in violation of good practice on the labour market. Accordingly, the resignation by G.R.P was not to be considered a provoked resignation.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

A resignation by an employee may be considered a provoked resignation and thus as a dismissal by the employer. This presupposes that the employer realised that the employer had acted in a way that resulted in a difficult situation for the employee and a risk of him or her leaving the employment.