Sports employment contract termination and trade unions

The Latvian Labor Law has a very specific rule that a trade union must be involved if its member (a coach, an athlete, or administrative personnel of a sports club) is being terminated from employment.

Jugdment in case SKC-171/2022

On 06 October 2022 the Latvian Supreme Court Department of Civil Cases delivered a Judgment in case Nr. SKC-171/2022.

The title line of the case reads as follows:

  • Social dialogue in labour law;
  • Determining the membership of an employee to a trade union and the duration of it;
  • Basis for requesting data on a person’s trade union membership

Current Labor Law requirement

(1) An employer is prohibited from giving a notice of termination of an employment contract to an employee – member of a trade union – without prior consent of the relevant trade union if the employee has been a member of the trade union for more than six months, except for the cases laid down in Section 47, Paragraph one and Section 101, Paragraph one, Clauses 4, 8, and 10 of this Law. If it is intended to give a notice of termination of an employment contract in the case referred to in Section 101, Paragraph one, Clauses 7 and 11 of this Law, the employer shall inform the trade union in advance and shall consult it.

(2) The employee trade union has the obligation to inform the employer of its decision in good time, but not later than within seven working days from the receipt of a request from the employer. If the employee trade union does not inform the employer of its decision within seven working days, it shall be deemed that the employee trade union consents to the notice of termination by the employer.

(3) An employer may give a notice of termination of an employment contract not later than within one month from the day of receipt of the consent of the employee trade union.

(4) If the employee trade union does not agree with the notice of termination of an employment contract, the employer may, within one month from the day of receipt of the reply, bring an action in court for termination of the employment contract.

[21 September 2006; 1 November 2018]

Section 110 of the Latvian Labor Law. Notice of Termination of an Employment Contract to a Member of an Employee Trade Union

New developments in case law

Judgment in case Nr. SKC-171/2022 of 06 October 2022 offered a significant change not only in defining the obligatinos of a trade union in such situation.

The judgment also overturns principle that trade unions do not disclose any personal data to external requestors as to their member lists, in general or in specific.

Specifially, this case SKC-171/2022 explicitly decalares that judgment of Senate, delivered on 22 June 2011 in case Nr. SKC-933/2011 (C29512010) is obsolete and outdated, and no court should ever quote it.

What Trade unions must do?

Judgment in case Nr. SKC-171/2022 of 06 October 2022 has explained that a trade union must disclose the data to an employer seeking information, based on the Labor Law, as far as the information is requested under the specific section of the Law.

Could the employers ask for general list of its athletes or coaches being contained in a trade union, just in case? Most likely not, and on the other hand it would be useless.

The Law does not specify limitations as to the industry in which the trade union must operate. For example, in the case SKC-171/2022 the municipality attempted to terminate an employee contained in “Apvienotā daudznozaru arodbiedrība” which stands for “United multi-industry trade union”.

There is no such Law as “sports trade union” requirement or even a more specific field of sports requirement. To terminate a basketball or volleyball player, the athlete can be part of a general sportsmen union, or even the same multi-industry union which covers sports as just one of its many directions of work.

Same is true for sports coaches and trainers, as well as all other personnel in sports clubs.

Disclaimer for sports specifics

The complex sports dispute resolution world does not give a clear answer, whether any specific sport would be allowed not to respect the Law, through their executive bodies living in their own universe, while in reality there is certain multiverse indications in some sports.

Therefore, it is always recommended to consult the sports-specific regulations, especially in major sports, such as basketball, football, volleyballl, etc.



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