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Amendments to the Czech labour code (Part 2)

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Last week we have introduced in part 1 the amendments to the Czech Labour Code. Part 2 continues especially with remarks on changes regarding remuneration, leave and prevention of stress. What exactly are these changes going to be? What do you need to watch out for when planning your company’s budget for next year? And what should you already begin to take into account and slowly start getting ready for?

REMUNERATION FOR BANK HOLIDAYS

Should an employee not work due to a bank holiday falling on a regular working day, the employee’s wage will no longer be reduced. This is applicable, in particular, to cases when the employee is remunerated by a monthly wage. In such cases, the employee will be provided with the regular monthly wage the same way he/she would if he/she were to perform work as per usual. Currently, there are two different approaches to this:

  • the wage is not reduced and the employee is provided with his/her monthly wage in an unchanged amount; or
  • the employee is provided with wage compensation in the amount of his/her average earnings.

Employers will be obliged to provide wage compensation in the amount of average earnings only in those cases, in which the employee would not receive the wage in full due to how remuneration is provided.

RETURNING AFTER THE END OF PARENTAL LEAVE 

The provision on the return of employees after certain impediments at work will now be categorized under common provisions about impediments at work – Sec. 206a (originally, this was under Sec. 47). The obligation to put employeeson the original place of work and workplace (“back in the same seat,” as it is often referred to), will now apply not just to returnees from maternal leave, but also those returning from parental leave.

ANNUAL LEAVE

The amendment to the Labour Code is to set up a completely new method for calculating the entitlement to leave. The minimum amount of 4 week per annum, however, remains unchanged.

  • Calculating leave entitlements 

Leave is now to be calculated in hours, i.e. not in weeks and working days. Due to this change, the whole process will now become easier (as leave will now either be provided as a leave entitlement for the entire year or a proportional part thereof, or additional leave, but no longer leave for days of work performed), the whole system will become more clear, and the provision of leave for employees working in an uneven schedule of working time or in shifts with different durations will now become more fair.

An employee, who performed work for an employer for a period of 52 weeks in the extent of the working hours assigned, will be entitled to leave for a calendar year calculated as the number of his/her assigned weekly working hours, times the number of weeks of leave allocated (e.g., if his/her assigned weekly working time is 40 hours, and his leave allocation is 4 weeks, the employee will be entitled to 4 x 40 = 160 hours of leave).

If the employee performs work for the employer for a shorter period of time, he/she will be entitled to 1/52 of the total leave entitlement for each week in which he/she completed the weekly working hours assigned.

  • Reducing leave 

It will be possible to reduce an employee’s entitlement to leave only if the employee has an unexcused shift (workday) absence, and only by the amount of the unexcused working hours (the 1:1 rules). It will no longer be possible to reduce the leave entitlement by 1 to 3 days for each unexcused day of absence, as it is now.

The rule that shorter periods of individual missed shifts add up remains in effect. It will be possible to reduce leave in this way to 3 weeks at most (formerly, the rules was 2 weeks).

It will no longer be possible to reduce leave entitlements due to missed days due to impediments at work. It will have to be assumed, for up to twenty times of the assigned (shorter) weekly working hours, that this will make up for time during which work was performed. Impediments at work over this extent, however, will no longer create leave entitlement, and, therefore, de facto, there will be reduction of leave in this case. Should the employee not perform at least twenty times of his/her assigned weekly working time, this “tolerance” will not be applied and impediments at work will be considered as a period during which no work was performed in the entire extent. The only exception to this is maternity leave, medical incapacity due to a work injury or occupational disease, and other important impediments according to a special government decree which will be always considered as performance of work.

  • Additional leave 

Employees will be entitled to additional leave only for the period, in which they actually performed work under certain circumstances (such as work underground and extremely demanding work).

  • Taking leave 

Unless the employer and the employee agree otherwise, an employer should now also be obliged to schedule the employee’s working time so that it is to be possible for the employee to take his/her leave in entire weeks.

It will continue to be possible, just as it is now, to take leave in the minimum duration of one half of a shift. The only exception is leave left over at the end of a calendar year, or at the end of the employment relationship, which is shorter than one half of a shift. It will be possible to order such leave also in a shorter duration.

Cases in which employees ask employers to take leave on a bank holiday, during which the employee would have normally performed work, will now also be considered as taking leave.

  • Transferring leave 

On the employee’s request, it will be possible to transfer any portion of leave exceeding 4 weeks into the following calendar year (with the exception of employees working in the field of education and academia, where this limit is set at 6 weeks). In essence, therefore, this is only applicable to leave which is provided to employees over the legal minimum. Should employees not be provided with leave over 4 weeks, it will continue to not be possible to transfer leave based on the employee’s request.

  • Transferring leave to a new employer 

For the possibility to transfer leave between employers it will not be obligatory any more that the new employment relationship immediately follows the former.

THE OBLIGATION TO PREVENT STRESS, VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT 

All employers, within the framework of creating suitable working conditions for their employees, will now have the obligation to prevent stress connected to work and the risk of violence or harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, this obligation is not further specified, and so it will be up to each individual employer to prove that appropriate measures have taken place.

MODIFYING WORKING HOURS ON THE BASIS OF THE EMPLOYEE’S REQUEST 

If the employer will not be able to assist certain employees (such as those taking care of a child under 15 years of age, pregnant employees, or those providing another person with long-term care) in finding an alternative modification of working hours, the employer will be obliged to inform the employee of why this request was not fulfilled in writing. 

CONFIRMATION OF EMPLOYMENT 

It will no longer be necessary to issue confirmations of employment for those employees working under agreements to complete job, unless sickness insurance was based off this agreement, or in cases where execution of judgement based off this agreement was performed.

WORK PERFORMED FROM HOME – HOME OFFICE 

An entirely new concept is the option to agree upon the employee performing work outside of the employer’s workplace. The Labour Code is thus attempting to give rules to what has already been used in practice for some time, but without any legal backing.

The employer will be obliged to reimburse the employee for any expenses linked to communication, as well as other expenses, which the employee will incur during the performance of such work. It will not be possible to include these expenses in the wage, but an agreement to pay them out as a lump sum may be made.

The employer will continue to be obliged to take measures to ensure that the employee won’t become isolated, enable the employee to get together with other employees, and provide the employee with technical equipment and software. The employee will, on the other hand, be obliged to take every measure to protect the data and information related to the performance of work.

The current treatment of work from home, when the employee schedules his/her working hours by himself, will be expanded to include an obligation of the employer to use fictional scheduling of the working hours into shifts also for the purposes of providing wage compensation for bank holidays, on which the employee did not work, despite the bank holiday falling on the employee’s usual workday.

The above treatment, however, will not apply for work which is performed outside of the employer’s workplace only in rare circumstances.

TRANSFER OF RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS 

The amendment clarifies and specifies the conditions, under which rights and obligations transfer in employment relationships. In order for a transfer to occur, the following conditions will need to be fulfilled:

  • after the transfer, activities must be performed in the same, or in a similar manner and to a similar extent;
  • activities do not lie entirely or predominantly in the delivery of goods;
  • immediately before the transfer of activities, there has to be an organized group of employees, which was put together by the employer for the purpose of exclusive or predominant performance of activities;
  • these activities are not meant to be short-term or lie in a one-time task; and
  • any material assets, or the option to use these assets, should they not be in the ownership of the company, must also be transferred, should this property be of high importance in relation to the performance of the activities.

The transfer of rights and obligations should therefore not have to take place as often, and especially not in those cases, in which it appears to be without grounds.

THE PROHIBITION OF BILLS OF EXCHANGE 

It will no longer be possible to ensure the payment of debt in an employment-law relationship via bills of exchange. Some employers had employees sign these bills which they then used to cover damages caused by the employee. This practice will now be expressly prohibited.

First published by our Ius Laboris partner firm Randl Partners from Czech Republic.

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