Chief executive officers

The Supreme Court has taken the view that chief executive officers of limited companies and cooperatives cannot have an employment relationship with the corporation for which they work based on a contract and in return for payment, as the CEOs of these corporations have to be regarded as the corporation's statutory body.

By contrast, in organisations where there are no regulations in law regarding the chief executive officer (e.g. a registered association), the Supreme Court has assessed the situation of chief executive officers according to the characteristics of an employment relationship, which means that the CEO of such an organisation can be in an employment relationship with the organisation when the characteristics of employment are met.

The wording of the definition of an employee in the Equality Act does not rule out applying the definition to the chief executive officer of a limited company or cooperation who is not in an employment relationship or any equivalent relationship with the organisation. The definition cannot however be applied on a chief executive officer who is the owner of a limited company and therefore also acts as an entrepreneur.

The working life regulations in the Equality Act are also applied "as applicable" to those in other legal relationships which are equivalent to employment relationships. Therefore the regulations in the Equality Act relating to e.g. supervision of work will not necessarily be applicable as they are to CEOs or self-employed workers who can organise their own work.

Regarding the CEO of a limited company it also needs to be noted in situations regarding e.g. recruitment and dismissals that limited companies have a fairly extended right to choose their CEO. However, the European Court of Justice has adopted the clear principle that actions taken towards women because of pregnancy constitute direct discrimination which give the woman the right to compensation. So if the contract of a CEO of a limited company is not concluded because of pregnancy or motherhood, or if a contract is cancelled because of pregnancy or motherhood, the company can be sentenced to compensate the injured party.