Can bad personal finances get you fired?
Employees in the financial sector have to keep their personal finances in order. But could it have consequences for your employment if you suddenly can’t pay your next gas bill? Finansforbundet’s Chief Legal Adviser answers this here.
Booming inflation and sky-high electricity and gas prices can make most people worry about their personal finances.
For bank employees, there can be extra pressure, because their employer might require that they have control of their own finances. And it could ultimately have consequences for employment if overdrafts run rampant. This is what lawyer and Chief Legal Adviser at Finansforbundet, Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, explains.
Even though employers are not normally allowed to interfere in what happens in the private sphere, courts have nevertheless ruled that they can require that employees of banks and financial companies have their personal finances in order. They handle money and advise on financial matters, and should therefore be expected to live up to the same requirements that are placed on customers.
“It follows from case law that employers in the financial sector are entitled to set guidelines for the employees’ financial conditions and sanction them under employment law if the employee does not comply with the rules”, says Mette Hjøllund Schousboe.
An unpaid gas bill won’t get you fired tomorrow
But does it mean you have to start looking for a new job if your account balance drops below zero?
No, Mette Hjøllund Schousboe firmly states.
“Most people have an overdraft or something like that. But if you can’t accommodate your expenses within the loan limits you have available, it can become a problem,” she explains.
Finansforbundet’s Chief Legal Adviser Mette Hjøllund Schousboe encourages you to always have a dialogue with your employer if you have problems with your personal finances.
However, she also stresses that a lot has to happen before it has employment law consequences.
“It’s not like you’re going to be fired tomorrow if you have a gas bill you can’t pay”.
The Chief Legal Adviser explains that in most cases, you can make an agreement with your employer where you can borrow money or get a time frame to reduce any debt.
“And if you can’t successfully make ends meet financially, you may risk employment law consequences”, she says.
How can the banks monitor employees’ private finances?
Mette Hjøllund Schousboe explains:
"As an employer, financial institutions are entitled to monitor whether their own employees have overdrafts in their bank accounts. This follows from the internal guidelines you as an employee are asked to accept at the start of employment.
By its very nature, the monitoring only applies to bank accounts with the employer. If you don’t want to be supervised as an employee, you can choose to use another bank for your personal finances.
This must be done with respect to the employer’s guidelines for employees’ personal finances. For example, it might state that you are obliged to have a salary account with the employer."
Have a dialogue with your employer
But if unexpected bills show up in your inbox, or your salary disappears faster than the next one arrives, then Mette Hjøllund Schousboe recommends you have a dialogue with your employer.
“You have to have a conversation with your employer and lay your cards on the table. In the end, you shouldn’t try to hide it. And we then have an expectation that the employer will help find a solution”, she says, while simultaneously making an appeal to bank employees:
“Stay calm. You shouldn’t feel extra exposed because you are employed in a financial company. Most employers would probably want to help find a way they can get a handle on their finances – especially these days, when there is a shortage of labour.”