Legal
1 April 2020

Parliament approved a long-awaited package of measures in the area of labour law

The package focuses on the proposed amendments to the Labour Code concerning mainly the organization of work, distribution of working time, taking of holiday and obstacles to work on the side of employee and employer.

Milina Schifferdeckerová
Ladislav Šimko

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The purpose of these changes is to enable employers to respond more flexibly to changes resulting from the declaration of exceptional situation, state of crisis or state of emergency (“State of Emergency”). 

Overview of the proposed amendments to the Labour Code

The Parliament approved the proposal to adopt changes in the area of labour law and employment in a fast-tracked legislative procedure. According to the proposed wording, the amendment should become effective following its publication in the Collection of Laws. 

1. Work from home (“Home office”)

If the agreed type of work allows for work from home, the employer will be entitled to order the employee Home office without the employee’s consent, and similarly the employee will have the right to work from home unless there are serious operational reasons on the side of the employer. 

According to the current legislation, the employer cannot unilaterally order the employee to work from home without the employee’s consent. 

2. An order to take a holiday

The period to order the holiday by the employer will be shortened. Under the proposed legislation, the employer shall be entitled to order the employee to take a holiday not less than (7) days in advance (the currently at least 14 days in advance). In case of untaken holiday, the proposed amendments enable the employer to order the employee to take a holiday two (2) days in advance. This period may be also shortened subject to the employee’s consent. 

3. Additional working time – NOT APPROVED BY THE PARLAMENT

If, due to the declaration of the State of Emergency, it is not possible to allocate work to the employee entirely or partially, the employer will be entitled to additionally order the employee to perform work to the extent of time for which the employee was entitled to a wage compensation during the obstacles on the side of the employer (Section 142 of the Labour Code and obstacles on the side of the employer introduced by the amendment to the Labour Code). 

Additional working time may be ordered:
- in the maximum amount of 400 hours per calendar year, and
- at the latest within 12 months as of the day on which the obstacle to work occurred.

Altough the employee is entitled to its wage for this work, this working time will not be counted into the average weekly working time according to Section 85 of the Labour Code, and therefore the employee will not be entitled to claims for overtime work. 

The employer will be obliged to maintain such working time separately in the evidence of working time kept pursuant to Section 99 of the Labour Code. 

4. Distribution of working time

In general, the employer is obliged to announce the distribution of working time to the employee at least one week in advance, and with a validity of at least for one week.
The proposed act foresees a reduction of the period for announcing the distribution of working time as two days in advance, whereas even a shorter period may be agreed with the employee.

5. Obstacles on the side of the employer and reduction of a claim to wage compensation

In case the employee is unable to perform work due to suspension or recstriction of the employer’s activity by the decision of the respective authority or as a result of the declaration of the State of Emergency, this is consireded as an obstancle on the side of the employer. 

During this period, the employee is entitled to a wage compensation, which is automatically reduced to 80 % of the employee’s average earnings (amounting at least to the employee’s minimum wage). Employee approval or prior agreement with the employee representatives is not required to reduce wages.

6. Protection of the employees and prohibition of notice

The employer is obliged to excuse an absence of the employee at work due to quarantine measures and isolation, as this is considered a significant personal obstacle to work on the side of the employee. The employee is not entitled to a wage compensation for such period (unless the act stipulates otherwise).

During a period of the employee’s excused absence from work due to quarantine measures or care for a family member (CFM), the employee is considered as temporarily incapable of work i.e. within the protected period, during which the prohibiton of termination of employment by notice applies (Section 64 of the Labour Code).

According to Section 157 para. 3 of the Labour Code, after the quarantine measures and CFM termination, the employer is obliged to consider the employee’s situation as if he had returned to work after the end of temporary incapability to work and assign the employee to his original work and workplace. Where the assignment to the original work and workplace is not possible, the employer is obliged to assign the employee to different type of work corresponding to the employment contract.
 

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