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Legal news in 2024 – dozens of changes await us

As every year, we bring you an overview of legal news. In 2024, this applies in particular to family law, taxation, levies, construction proceedings and employment law. A few things might surprise you on the roads too, unless you read our article.

novinky v roce 2024
13 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

The first announced area of news concerns family law. The changes mainly concern those who are about to marry or, on the contrary, divorce and raise children at the same time.

Easier marriages and registered partnerships

Until now, same-sex couples could only marry at fourteen selected registry offices. But that is set to change next year. Gays and lesbians will no longer have to travel to get married, but will be able to get married at any town hall.

But the changes are coming for all couples planning a wedding in the near future. The requirement for civil weddings that at least one of the fiancés must be resident in the place of marriage will be abolished. Currently, if neither of the fiancés is a permanent resident in a given municipality, they must be married by the mayor of the so-called registry municipality. However, this will change. In addition, those planning a wedding in the next year have another advantage. They will not only have to be married by the mayor, but also by a deputy or a senator.

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Even after the marriage, it will be possible to declare jointly with the spouse that the surname of one of the spouses will be the common surname to which the other will add his/her current surname. Until now, this has only been possible before the marriage.

Hint: Marriage for all is so far just a phrase that political parties argue about fulfilling. According to its opponents, registered partnerships for same-sex couples are quite sufficient. How does this proclamation stand up in legal terms? This is the subject of a separate article.

Changes in family law in relation to children

The changes also apply to children, although they may not be fully appreciated. For example, the age at which minors can decide for themselves what surname they want in the event of their parents’ divorce is lowered. From fifteen years of age, the limit drops to twelve. This amendment is based on the idea that a person’s personal name and surname form a distinctive means of identification. A person who has attained a certain degree of intellectual and voluntary maturity should have control over any name changes that may occur as a result of various legal facts. Whether this will be a real advantage for children or whether it will rather put them under greater pressure from their parents is a question that only the future will answer.

It should also be possible to have pet or diminutive names newly entered in the register , which in many cases has so far only been obtained by parents through the courts.

From next year, it should also be easier to establish paternity if a couple is in divorce proceedings and the woman is expecting a child with her new partner. If the couple are divorcing and file for divorce, it will also be possible to declare the paternity of the child’s father before the registry office, which has not been the case until now. Now, a declaration of consent by the mother, her husband who is not the father of the child and the biological father would be sufficient, even for unborn children. Now, the father of the child is automatically considered to be the current husband and paternity must be resolved by the court.

Digitisation of civil registers

However, major changes await registry offices as a result of the planned digitisation. The main novelty brought by the amendment to the Act is the introduction of the central registry information system eMatrika. The registry books in paper form will remain preserved, but in addition, they will also be in the centralised information system. This will make it easier for people to access the registry office, for example, when obtaining a copy of a birth certificate, marriage certificate or death certificate. Until now, this can only be done at the local registry office. Thanks to digitisation, however, any registry office in the Czech Republic could issue a copy. The eMatrika system, which will be linked to other public administration information systems, will be used by all registry offices and designated embassies abroad. It will be possible to arrange electronically for a verbatim extract from the register book, the use of a name in a different form or the issue of a certificate for a church marriage.

Tip: We have discussed in detail the topic of changes in family law and the digitalisation of civil registers in our separate article.

Divorce reform

TheMinistry of Labour and Social Affairs has prepared a number of changes for the area of divorce. They should be reflected in the Civil Code next year, but it is quite possible that they will not come into force until 2025. And what will change for divorcing spouses? Nothing will change in the basic principle of contested and uncontested divorce. However, an uncontested divorce would be referred to as an “amicable” divorce. In the case of an uncontested divorce, there would also be no obligation for the spouses to be heard in court and the presence of their legal representatives would be sufficient. Although at first glance it may surprise some that a person would be divorced in his or her absence, this is not unusual. The condition is that the couple have made all their wishes regarding the divorce and post-divorce arrangements clear in the agreement they have signed. Further presence in court is then usually just a formality in such a case. In contrast to the current situation, the presence of a conflict guardian (OSPOD officer) would not always be strictly necessary and would only be summoned by the judge if he/she considers that the parents are not acting in the best interests of their child.

The new guardianship proceedings would also not precede the divorce proceedings themselves, but would be merged into one, for which only one court fee would also be paid.

The amendment also includes the abolition of the obligation for the court to determine the causes of the breakdown of the marriage. In this way, the state wants to limit its interference in the private lives of citizens.

The law also calls for an increase in interest on arrears for non-payment of maintenance, but on the other hand it limits the prison sentence in the same case. The penalty should continue to apply only to the most serious situations of non-payment of maintenance.

The law also wants to emphasize the upbringing of children by means other than corporal punishment. However, it does not introduce any sanctions for parents in this respect.

Changes that will be felt on the roads

The legislators have also prepared an amendment to the Road Traffic Act with the main aim of improving road safety.

The points system will be modified. For the most serious offences rated at 6 points (e.g. driving under the influence, driving in the opposite direction on the motorway, etc.), two and enough will now apply, while for moderate offences rated at 4 points (e.g. speeding 30 km/h outside a village), three and enough will apply. The point assessment will be made more severe for some offences, while for others it will be more lenient.

From next year, it will be possible to obtain a Group B licence from the age of 17. However, such drivers (under 18) may only drive under the supervision of an experienced driver (mentor). The mentor must meet the qualification requirements, sit in the passenger seat and not be under the influence of alcohol or other addictive substances.

Tip: Do you ever drive faster than the speed limit? Do the police stop you from time to time and deal with you for an offence? Of course, our basic advice is: obey the traffic rules and take the appropriate punishment if you break them. But what if you don’t agree with the charge of a traffic offence or if the penalty is clearly disproportionate? In our next article, we’ll tell you how to defend yourself.

What is in store for us in 2024 in the area of taxes and levies?

The government has prepared the so-called consolidation package for next year, which was signed by the President in November. As a result, a number of significant changes are expected from January, including in the area of taxes.

Personal income tax

The personal income tax rates will remain the same, i.e. 15% and 23%, but the threshold for the progressive 23% tax rate will move from the current 48 times the average wage to 36 times the average wage.

From next year, the tax credit for spouses will also be limited to cases of childcare up to three years of age.

The student tax credit will also be abolished completely and the so-called education allowance will be abolished.

Changes for the self-employed

For the self-employed, the sickness insurance rate will increase from 2.1% to 2.7%. For social security contributions, the assessment base will increase from 50% to 55%. In the following years, the minimum assessment base is to be gradually increased by 5% per year.

Employee benefits

Support for employee non-monetary benefits (typically contributions to sports and cultural events, multisport cards, etc.) will be limited to half of the average annual salary – in 2024 they will be exempt up to CZK 21,983. Should employees exceed the amount of benefits, everything above this amount will have to be taxed and health and social insurance will have to be paid on the amount.

Tip: How is the wage correctly determined, what are the legal obligations regarding remuneration, which benefits are beneficial for the employee and the employer and what can the employer deduct from the wage? We have addressed this in a separate article.

Solutions Tailored for You

Our team of experienced attorneys will help you solve any legal issue. Within 24 hours we’ll evaluate your situation and suggest a step-by-step solution, including all costs. The price for this proposal is only CZK 690, and this is refunded to you when you order service from us.

Insurance premiums related to a work performance agreement

In future, income from work performance agreements for a single employee will be treated as a single unit, even if it comes from agreements from more than one employer.

From 2024, two thresholds will be set for the need to make contributions:

  • The first threshold will be set for single-employer PPAs at 25 per cent of average wages.
  • The second threshold will be set for triggering participation in insurance when multiple FTEs with multiple employers are combined, at 40 per cent of average wages.

If the employee exceeds either threshold, he or she will have to pay the premium.

Corporation tax

Corporation tax increases from the current 19% to 21%.

Value added tax

The rates for value added tax are also changing. The current reduced rates of 10% and 15% will be abolished and there will now be a single reduced rate of 12% (food, magazines, accommodation and catering). The basic rate will remain the same at 21%. There will now be zero tax on books. However, even audiobooks are considered books.

Real estate tax

Property owners will also pay extra, with the tax increasing to 1.8 times from 2024.

Changes to employment law

Most of the major changes to employment law came into force in October 2023. But some are not due until next year. For example, it will not be until January 2024 that so-called contingent workers (workers working on a temporary or permanent contract) will be entitled to holiday pay.

For the purposes of calculating leave, the law works with a notional working week of 20 hours per week.

Tip: The Chamber of Deputies has approved a major and extensive amendment to the Labour Code, effective from October 2023. The amendment to the Labour Code increases employees’ rights quite significantly and also seeks to take friendly steps towards reconciling employees’ work and private lives. What does it regulate? This is the focus of a separate article.

Changes also apply to rest periods. The amendment provides for the obligation to give an employee a continuous daily rest of at least 11 hours within 24 consecutive hours and a juvenile employee a rest of at least 12 hours within 24 consecutive hours. At the same time, as of 1 January 2024, employees must have at least 24 hours of continuous rest per week, and minors must have 48 hours.

Are you planning to build? Then pay attention!

The construction law has recently undergone a series of very substantial changes, which will be particularly evident in the coming year. From January, a new Transport and Energy Construction Authority (DESU) will be established to authorise key transport and energy infrastructure (roads, railways, aeronautical structures, nuclear installations).

However, a revolutionary change awaits us in July, when a substantial part of the new Construction Act will come into force, including the announced digitalisation of construction procedures. What will change for ordinary builders?

The number of building authorities should be reduced. However, the Ministry of Regional Development has announced that the change will be rather cosmetic, so there is no need to worry about commuting tens of kilometres to the construction office.

Tip: Dealing with all the permits and approvals needed for construction can be a nightmare. What needs to be done and where? And what are the risks if I don’t get the proper permits and build in the dark? We have addressed this in a separate article.

Simplifying the procedure

Instead of the current zoning and building procedures, we will have one basic building permit procedure in the future. There is also a variant in the form of a fast-track procedure, designed for simpler cases. If everything necessary is provided with the application (especially the consent of neighbours and other parties), then a decision can be expected quickly. If there is an appeal during the procedure, then the appeal office must decide straight away. This avoids the matter being referred back to the first instance authority and the proceedings being unduly prolonged.

The new Building Act introduces a single environmental statement (SEA). This should integrate the existing binding opinions issued e.g. under the Water Act, the Forest Act, the Air Protection Act, etc.). It may also include an environmental impact assessment (EIA) if the project requires it and the developer requests it.

Further integration of the issuance of opinions concerns situations where the project requires the issuance of several binding opinions from the same authority. Thus, a single coordinated binding opinion must now be issued, which may include the aforementioned JES.

Another change, which according to the explanatory memorandum of the Act should contribute to the streamlining of the procedure, is the institute of joint negotiations between the construction authority and other authorities concerned. The builder and other parties to the proceedings may also participate. This meeting should coordinate the individual opinions of the authorities, which could speed up the entire procedure. How this will manifest itself in practice is, however, still a question.

The often exaggerated requirement for direct daylighting of the living room has been abandoned. In the future, the details of this issue will be reflected in the implementing regulations.

Strictness in permitting black buildings

It will be possible to retrospectively permit a black building under stricter conditions than before. The builder must comply with the building requirements, pay a fine for the offence and the building will not require a decision to grant an exemption from the prohibition under another regulation. In such a case, the building authority may permit the building by a new decision

Participation of environmental associations and the public

A major issue in the adoption of the new Building Act and its first major amendment was the active participation and possibility of intervention in building procedures by environmental associations. In the end, the Building Act grants them certain possibilities of participation, but only in very specific cases, which are:

  • tree felling cases,
  • exemptions from the prohibitions on monumental trees,
  • exceptions to the prohibitions on specially protected species of plants and animals.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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