Age or sickness absence?

HR News
19 Oct 2015

age was not a factor when a 68-year-old social worker was dismissed. her dismissal was based on sickness absence.

Yvonne Frederiksen

Age was not a factor when a 68-year-old social worker was dismissed. Her dismissal was based on sickness absence.

Employers are not allowed to let an employee’s age be a factor in the decision to dismiss. This principle ‎is laid down in the Danish Anti-Discrimination Act. If an employee believes that age was nevertheless a ‎factor in the decision to dismiss, the employee must show facts that give reason to believe that this was ‎the case. Whether or not the employee had shown such facts was the question in this complaint before ‎the Danish Board of Equal Treatment.‎

The complaint concerned a 68-year-old social worker who was dismissed for extensive sickness ‎absence. The social worker believed that her employer, a municipality, had not acted in accordance with ‎the sickness absence policy and had shown less understanding for her than for other and younger social ‎workers with a high sickness absence rate. The reason for this had to be her age.‎

Her employer argued that the social worker’s sickness absence had increased over the years and that it ‎put a strain on the rest of her team. She had been offered the same consultations etc. as other ‎employees on sick leave, but the attempt to reduce her absence by various measures had been ‎unsuccessful, among other things because there were different reasons for her periods of absence.‎

Age was not a factor
The Board decided in favour of the municipality, holding that the social worker had not shown any facts ‎raising a presumption of discrimination. Nothing in the notice of dismissal or in the period leading up to ‎the notice indicated that the social worker’s age had had anything to do with her dismissal.


Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that the Board’s decision is yet another example that the mere fact that an employee who is dismissed ‎is of a certain age is not sufficient to raise a presumption of discrimination.