On 1 January 2023, the amendments to the Employment Act, as well as the brand-new Act on Maternal and Parental benefits and Act on Suppression of Undeclared Work entered into force.
Collectively, they introduce a substantial number of novelties in regulation of individual employment rights and obligations.
The most important amendments to the Employment Act concern the following:
- Definite term employment contracts: with certain exceptions, both the duration (a maximum of three years) and number (a maximum of three) of definite term employment contracts are now limited. Also, an employee is entitled to request an indefinite term contract after six months of definite term employment and the employer will have to consider it. If the request is rejected, the employer must explain why in writing.
- The obligatory content of the employment contract is being amended / expanded.
- The distinction between remote work and work at a separate workplace has been introduced. In the former case, employees can choose from where they work. In the latter case, the place of work is specified (e.g., employee’s home) and the employer must reimburse the associated costs if the work lasts for longer than seven days per calendar month. In case of important personal needs (such as illness, pregnancy, care for a child of up to eight years of age or a sick family member), employees can request to temporarily work from a separate workplace; if the request is rejected, employers must explain why in writing.
- The employer’s consent for the employee to perform additional work with another employer (for up to eight hours a week) is no longer needed.
- New rules for the protection of minors have been introduced.
- New rules and obligations for agencies regarding temporary employment have been introduced.
- The probation period will be prolonged if the employee was absent during the originally agreed notice period (e.g. due to sick leave or maternity leave).
- The employer must respect employees’ work-life balance and not contact them during rest periods (“right to disconnect”), unless there is an emergency or if communication with employees is essential due to the nature of the work.
- The number of employees who can only work overtime or with an uneven working schedule with their explicit consent has been expanded (e.g. to parents of children up to eight years of age).
- Parents who have children under eight or who are taking care of a sick family member can request temporary amendment of the employment contract (transformation from full-time to part-time work) and/or amendment or adjustment of their working time schedule. If the request is rejected, the employer must explain why in writing.
- Employees are entitled to unpaid leave of up to five days a year (to care for a family member) and to paid absence from work of one day a year (due to an important family reason that requires their immediate presence).
- Definition of salary and its components, as well as obligations regarding calculations and payments, have been prescribed. A salary increase in the amount of 50% for working on Sundays was prescribed.
- In case of work interruption due to extraordinary circumstances (such as an epidemic), employees are now entitled to a salary remuneration in the amount of 70% of the average monthly salary earned during the previous three months.
- Amendments regarding notice periods have been introduced (some categories of employees will not be entitled to a notice period at all; previous uncertainties regarding notice periods in case of a garden leave were also resolved).
- There are some novelties regarding the delivery of employer’s decisions to employees.
- Employers with more than 75 employees must appoint two persons responsible for the protection of employees’ dignity, who may not be of the same gender.
- It is now possible to agree higher material rights for employees who are members of unions that participated in negotiations of a collective bargaining agreement.
- Work via digital platforms has been defined and regulated – the respective part of the Act will enter into force on 1 January 2024.
Employers must harmonize their employment by-laws with the new law by 1 July 2023.
As for the Act on Maternal and Parental benefits: besides the novelties introduced a couple of months ago (paternity leave in duration of ten working days and the impossibility of transferring two months of parental leave to the other parent), salary reimbursement during parental leave (i.e. after the child turns 6 months of age) was significantly increased. Also, some novelties regarding entitlement to a part-time work as well as the rights of nursing mothers have been introduced.
The Act on Suppression of Undeclared Work introduced several measures to prevent and sanction undeclared work. If the inspection authority determines undeclared work has been performed, it will be deemed that the respective employee has been employed for full-time with the subject employer for the last six months (unless the evidence shows otherwise). The employer will be ordered to register for social security, as well as to pay the amount of EUR 2,650 for each such employee (the amount will be increased in case of a repeated offence). A couple of registries are being introduced, as well as the joint liability of a contractor for its sub-contractors’ obligations towards their employees (with a couple of exemption possibilities).
There are many uncertainties and ambiguities regarding the mentioned novelties. We will have to wait for the competent authorities and courts to resolve them in practice. In any case, employers are certainly in for a busy and interesting period.