Strike (other sectors)
Employees are entitled to receive their wages if they are prevented from working for reasons beyond the control of the employer or the employee. If the reason is industrial action by other workers, wages are paid for a maximum of 7 days and otherwise for a maximum of 14 days.
Working is prevented
Working can be prevented for two reasons:
- For example a fire, an exceptional natural event or some other matter that the employer or the employee were unable to influence.
If working is prevented for a reason like this that is beyond the control of the employer or the employee, the employee is entitled to receive his/her wages for a maximum of 14 days.
- Working may be prevented due to industrial action by employees or employers in another sector or company (e.g. a strike or lockout).
If work is prevented by a strike for employees with no direct connection to the strike, the employer is obliged, under chapter 2, section 12 of the Employment Contracts Act, to pay the employees for a maximum of seven days. After this, the employee is entitled to unemployment benefit with no waiting period.
The strike must not be related to the employee’s own terms or conditions of employment. Entitlement to wages is not affected by the way in which the industrial action is taken or whether it is legal.
Impact of a labour dispute on the payment of unemployment benefit
During a labour dispute, unemployment benefits cannot be paid to a jobseeker:
- whose unemployment is the direct result of a strike or lockout, or
- whose unemployment is the indirect result of a strike or lockout when the labour dispute is intended to change the terms of employment for the person in question.
A strike means a collective work stoppage by employees to achieve a specific goal with the intention of returning to work once this goal has been achieved.
A lockout is a complete or partial stoppage of work effected by one or more employers to achieve a specific goal with the intention of continuing the work once this goal has been achieved. A lockout corresponds to a strike as a form of industrial action by the employer.
If the employer takes contingency action
An employer is entitled to lay off an employee for production-related or economic reasons. An example of this is if working is prevented in the way described above. Since a layoff notice must be given 14 days before it is applied, it is rarely used in connection with strikes.
Sometimes an employer may try to anticipate the effects of a strike, for example by changing shift lists. This is not possible without the employee’s consent.
If working is prevented, an employer can in principle move an employee to other duties than his/her normal work. In practice this is rare since the employer must provide sufficient induction into the new job and occupational safety. So it makes no sense for an employer train an employee for other duties whilst working is suspended for a short period. You are entitled to refuse work that is affected by a strike.
If transport is stopped
Sometimes industrial action interferes with journeys to work. Employees are in principled obliged to try to get to work by all reasonable means.
If there is no replacement public transport, you have no car, carpooling or cycling is not possible due to the length of the journey, a strike may be considered a valid reason to stay away from work. In these circumstances, absence cannot be considered unjustified, and therefore cannot lead to a warning or other consequences.
However, it is recommended that you explain the situation to your employer in advance and agree on how to proceed.