Menu close

Bonus: This is what you're entitled to when leaving

Are you still entitled to a bonus if you resign or are terminated? And how much are you entitled to? Hear what the chief legal adviser of Finansforbundet has to say about that.

13. May 2024
4 min
English / Dansk
Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, Chief Legal Adviser at Finansforbundet, explains the bonus rules that apply when you leave your job. Foto: Johanne Marie Danielsen Hansen

It is wonderful to see extra money being put into your bank account in connection with bonus payments. And for some financial sector employees, bonuses constitute a significant share of their total pay. 

But are you still entitled to your bonus if you resign or your employment contract is terminated? And what amount can you expect to receive? Here is what Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, chief legal adviser of Finansforbundet, has to say about that.

If you are unfortunate enough to have your employment contract terminated or you resign from your job, you may as a general rule expect to still receive your bonus.

"If you work under a bonus agreement, and receiving a bonus has been a regular, foreseeable part of your salary, plus if the criteria of your bonus model have been met, you’re entitled to a bonus regardless of whether you resign or are let go," explains Mette Hjøllund Schousboe. 

This is what you are entitled to 

Of course, the size of your bonus depends on what you have agreed with your employer according to your bonus agreement. But the time of year of your exit also plays a role.

If you leave at the end of the year, you are eligible for a bonus for the entire vesting year. However, if you leave in the middle of the year, you are entitled to a share of the bonus corresponding to the part of the bonus period in which you were employed.

"This means that if you hand in your resignation and leave at the end of August, you will be entitled to a bonus proportionate to 8/12 of the bonus for one year," says the chief legal adviser of Finansforbundet.

If you have been released from the duty to work, you may also be entitled to a bonus for this period. As it is your employer who has terminated your contract, the employer is obliged to treat you as if you had been working. 

(Artiklen fortsætter efter boksen)
"If it's been a terrible year, and no bonus, or a very low bonus, has been awarded internally, then of course leaving the company shouldn't place you in a better position."
- Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, chief legal adviser of Finansforbundet

Not satisfied? Try this

If you are unhappy with the size of your bonus or lack of bonus, the first step is to contact your company and point out that there may be an issue.

"Among other things, your previous bonuses will be considered, and so will what other comparable employees have received provided that you know about it," says Mette Hjøllund Schousboe.

She emphasises that it naturally also depends on how the company has performed in the past year.

"If it's been a terrible year, and no bonus, or a very low bonus, has been awarded internally, then of course leaving the company shouldn't place you in a better position." 

In addition, your job performance may affect the decision.

"If you've been terminated because you performed poorly, you may find it difficult to succeed with your bonus claim," clarifies Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, who also suggests saving any documentation in favour of you receiving a bonus.

"You may, for example, be in possession of email correspondence full of praise for you or in which your employer promises a certain amount of bonus," she says.

Claims may be several years old

It is not often that members submit a claim for a bonus they feel cheated out of while still employed.

"It doesn’t exactly promote cooperation," Mette Hjøllund Schousboe points out and explains that going back a few years may be an option if you want your employer to cough up the money once you have left your position.

"It's not always possible to succeed with a claim dating back more than one financial year owing to potential inactivity but a judge will tend to be sympathetic to the view that you didn't raise the claim for a lack of bonus while you were still employed because you didn't want to damage the employment relationship," says Mette Hjøllund Schousboe, explaining that the submission of the claim will in this way be accepted. 

"However, a bonus claim may be statute-barred after five years. Then, submission of a claim will not be allowed, she says.

Risk of waiting 

You cannot demand to receive your bonus in connection with your exit from the company.

You are only entitled to receive it on the usual date of payment. In many companies, this will be around the time of their financial statements. 

Nonetheless, your employer may have an interest in settling the practicalities of salary and bonus, and it may therefore be possible - typically in connection with the conclusion of a severance agreement - to agree on the payment of bonus outstanding at departure. 

Mette Schousboe encourages you to contact Finansforbundet if you are in doubt about what you are entitled to.

Latest news