New Czech Labour Code amendment approved by the government—is it a breakthrough in remote working and the rules of electronic delivery?

Czech Republic

The Czech government has recently submitted a new amendment to the Labour Code to parliament. The amendment aims to transpose two EU directives on the work-life balance of parents and carers, and on transparent and predictable working conditions. As the legislative process continues, the amendment might be subject to further modifications. However, the law’s key points are likely to remain unchanged. We anticipate the new rules will take effect in the second half of this year.

First, precise and explicit rules for remote working could finally resolve issues with the current lack of legislation. The Covid-19 pandemic showed that the lack of remote working regulation needed to be addressed, and a comprehensive regulation on this topic was required. However, there had been little progress until now. The new bill finally introduces new remote working rules. The bill anticipates that employee will be able to work remotely based only on a written agreement with the employer. The employer will be entitled to unilaterally order employees to work remotely only when the public authorities or applicable laws make remote working mandatory (typically, pandemics). It will be possible to agree that an agreement on remote working cannot be terminated.  

Generally, all remote-working employees will be entitled to the reimbursement of costs incurred in remote working. The bill contains rules on calculating these costs. A breakthrough in the current employment rules is the possibility not to provide expenses for remote working at all if the employee agrees.

The second major topic is the long-awaited regulation of the electronic execution and delivery of certain employment documents. Under the new rules, it will be possible to execute all mutual agreements (employment agreement, termination agreement, and agreements to perform work outside the employment relationship) electronically using a simple electronic signature. Until now, the paper form with wet-ink signatures was necessary to conclude these agreements. The employer will have to send one copy of such an agreement to the employee’s private electronic address. The employee will be able to withdraw from the agreements (except for termination agreements) within seven days from such delivery provided that they have not yet started to perform work.

Furthermore, it will be possible—with the employee’s consent, which must meet certain statutory requirements – to deliver to employees unilateral termination documents (such as a termination notice) by email. If an employee does not confirm receipt of the email, the termination document will be deemed delivered 15 days after its delivery. Until now, it has been extremely difficult (if not impossible) to correctly deliver a termination document electronically to an employee given the strict legal rules. These new changes will make employers’ lives much easier, but they will have to educate their employees about the conditions of electronic delivery.

Another significant change is the extension of the employer’s information obligation regarding the employment terms. In addition to already existing information, the employer will also have to inform employee e.g. of the conditions of a probation period, the process of employment termination, the professional development provided by the employer, and the social security office that administers their contributions to the social security system, within seven days from the commencement of employment (currently the deadline is 30 days).

Among other changes, the amendment also grants extensive rights to employees working under agreements to perform work outside an employment relationship, e.g., they will be newly entitled to annual leave, and tightens the rules for parental leave requests.

In conclusion, we expect the amendment to lead to major changes in employment law later this year. Employers may want to review their current remote working agreements as well as their practice regarding executing and delivering certain employment documents. CMS Prague will monitor the situation and we will update you once the amendment is finally adopted.

For more information, please contact the authors of this article: Tomas Matejovsky, Jakub Kabat, Daniel Szpyrc and Jana Tureckova