Changes in social and labour law
The most practical changes are probably to be found in labour and social security law. The minimum wage was CZK 12,200 in 2018 and will increase by CZK 1,150 to CZK 13,350 from January next year. There are several reasons for the increase – rising average wages and a growing economy, but also, and perhaps most importantly, pressure from unions. At the same time, the guaranteed wage is also rising.
On the other hand, the abolition of the withdrawal period is not certain. In fact, the Senate rejected an amendment to the Labour Code that would have required companies to pay employees wage compensation even during the first three days of sickness from July. According to critics, there is no reason to abolish the withdrawal period; it would put too much burden on employers. However, the House is expected to override the Senate.
According to the amendment, employees will receive 60 percent of the assessment base even during the first three days, and employers will pay for it. They, on the other hand, will see their levies reduced by 0.2 percentage points, which amounts to around CZK 3.5 billion.
Traditionally, with the new year comes a new amount of advance payments for health and social insurance. For example, a self-employed person carrying out the main activity must pay minimum advances for pension insurance in the amount of CZK 2,388 in 2019. Monthly advances thus increase by CZK 199. A person carrying out a secondary activity will pay CZK 955 (an increase of CZK 79). In addition, from 2019, the due date for sickness and pension insurance premiums will change. In 2018, advances are payable from the 1st to the 20th of the following month. From January 2019 onwards, advance payments will always be due in the calendar month to which the premium relates. Payment will be possible up to the last day of the calendar month (i.e. the date of credit to the account at the district social security office is decisive).
In the next year or the year after, the so-called job-sharing should also be introduced. This is foreseen in the amendment to the Labour Code. Although a creative employer and employees can already agree on something like this today, the Labour Code does not prohibit it. However, an employer will now be able to agree with two or more employees with shorter working hours and the same type of work that these employees will share one workplace, i.e. that they will take turns at the workplace. The agreement will have to be made in writing and will have to be for both a fixed and an indefinite period. There will also be new leave arrangements. We will deal with that separately.
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Electronic sick leave
Electronic sick leave will not be fully implemented until 2020. The amendment has also made it possible that post-acute doctors will not be subject to the service law and will not have to retire after the age of 70. The one-year delay in the introduction of e-sick leave is necessary because its full launch from January next year is not technically ready. Thus, from January, employers will be able to enquire about sick leave, from July employers will be able to find out whether an employee is on sick leave and from January 2020 the e-sick leave will be fully operational.
Unfair practices by money changers
You may be familiar with Janek Rubes’ programmes highlighting the misdeeds of Prague money changers in particular. Lawmakers have come up with a solution. Clients of money changers will now be able to withdraw from the transaction within three hours of the money exchange. In the case of exchange machines, the withdrawal period will be up to three working days. The measure is intended to protect clients from the unfair practices of some money changers who offer completely absurd rates to gullible foreigners.
However, due to the potential for abuse, the measure is only intended to apply to amounts up to €1,000. The amendment also introduces the rule that if the exchange office provides an additional service in connection with the exchange, the client will be able to withdraw from this service as well.
News on trademarks
The Directive and Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Trademarks Act, the Act on Enforcement of Industrial Property Rights and the Act on Administrative Fees have also been transposed into Czech law. This brings the trademark systems in the Czech Republic into line with the trademark systems in other EU Member States. The amendment also significantly strengthens the legal certainty of trademark owners within the EU internal market.
The proposal also amends the Act on the Enforcement of Industrial Property Rights, introducing the possibility to seek appropriate compensation in court for damages caused to owners by the unauthorised acquisition, use or disclosure of their trade secrets. The administration and handling of administrative fees in trademark proceedings will be newly regulated by the Law on Administrative Fees.
It is also worth noting that the European Parliament has approved a ban on selected single-use plastics from 2021, such as plastic crockery, cutlery, straws, ear sticks and balloon sticks. We may therefore see a gradual move away from these products as early as next year.
At the same time, the EP has set new rules for the behaviour of the state and companies in the area of plastic waste management. Larger volumes will have to be recycled. Environmentalists are logically celebrating what they see as a historic moment.