Restructuring, mass layoffs, social plans
Restructuring often involves job cuts on a smaller or larger scale. When 10% of the staff or more than 30 people are laid off in a facility with more than 300 employees, it is called a mass layoff. For this purpose, the law provides for a consultation procedure for employees. The SBEA supports affected bank employees and advises the staff councils.
Consultation procedure and social plan
As an employee association, we cannot prevent job cuts, but we can ensure that the provisions of the law and the industry’s collective labor agreement (the ACEBE ) on timely information and consultation of employees and staff councils are complied with. Under certain conditions, the law also obliges the employer to negotiate a social plan, which is intended to mitigate the social hardships in the event of economically justified layoffs. Irrespective of the statutory obligation, we work together with the affected workforces to ensure that a social plan is negotiated in every case where a mass layoff is announced.
In many cases, we were able to work together with the employees concerned and, where available, their elected representatives to achieve solutions that made life easier for those affected. In some banks there are also permanent social plans, which we support, and which benefit all employees whose jobs are being cut due to restructuring, irrespective of mass layoffs. Social plans usually guarantee outplacement benefits, severance pay or an extension of the notice period, facilitation of internal job placement and generous early retirement provisions.
The affected employees and, where applicable, the staff council, as well as the SBEA as social partner, must be informed at an early stage. The information should be comprehensive and include not only the reasons that led to the decision, but also the future measures, organization and timing. The employees or their staff council must have the opportunity to make suggestions within the framework of the consultation procedure so that layoffs can be avoided or their consequences can be mitigated for those affected.
The banks must conduct negotiations on the social plan with the staff council. If a statutory social plan obligation applies, the employer must also enter into negotiations with the SBEA as the social partner. In any case, the staff council may involve SBEA in the negotiations. This is recommended because we are familiar with the standards for severance pay, outplacement and other social plan benefits that are common in the industry.
If there is no staff council, employees may exercise their participation rights directly. The obligation to involve the SBEA remains unchanged, as does the obligation to negotiate a social plan.
In a bank that is not subject to the ACEBE and that does not have a staff council, employees are consulted individually. There is no obligation for the employer to inform the social partners. In this case, contacting the SBEA is strongly recommended. By mandating the SBEA to represent employees’ interests and, if necessary, to conduct social plan negotiations, pressure can be placed on the employer to improve the conditions for those affected. Experience shows that individual suggestions from employees are rarely taken into account. The time factor is important – the demand for a good social plan should be raised as soon as possible.
Are you affected by a restructuring?
Contact us, we will advise you and treat your request strictly confidential.
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