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What does the extensive amendment to the Labour Code bring?

The Chamber of Deputies has approved a major and extensive amendment to the Labour Code with effect from October 2023. The amendment to the Labour Code increases the rights of employees quite significantly and also seeks to take friendly steps towards reconciling employees’ work and private lives. What does it regulate?

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Chapters of the article

The novel responds to the phenomenon of the post-covid era, which is characterized by working from home, and clarifies some previous ambiguities in this respect. It adapts to current communication in the way documents are delivered at work. It is clear that itwill place a greater burden on employers, at least initially, due to the new set of conditions, the greater extent of their information obligations and also their lesser flexibility in employment relations. However, these are generally positive steps for employees.

More flexibility in teleworking

The trend, or rather the reality nowadays, is remote working, i.e. from the perspective of the home office employee. This is not excluded by the current Labour Code, but it has become clear that the regulations in this respect need to be clarified somewhat.

The existence of a written agreement explicitly allowing for telework will be a prerequisite for telework. The only exception to such a situation responds to a large extent to the recent covid epidemic and allows for an ex officio “forced” home office. This is provided that the nature of the work being done allows for this and the telework location is suitable for the work to be carried out.

The issue of the cost of such work is also important, and a triple regime is allowed:

  • Either the employee registers his costs and proves the amount, which the employer reimburses,
  • or they agree on a lump sum, which may also be set by internal regulation. The basic amount for these purposes is set annually by decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for each hour worked. However, it may be set higher for some private sector employees. Where a lump sum is granted to an employee, it shall include reimbursement of all costs incurred by the employee in performing telework.
  • The third option is that the employee is not entitled to reimbursement of expenses, which is a novelty compared to the original proposal.

The teleworking agreement itself can be terminated by agreement between the employer and the employee on an agreed date, or it can be terminated for any reason (or no reason) with 15 days’ notice, starting on the date on which the notice is served on the other party. Both the agreement and the notice must be in writing. The proposal also allows the parties to agree that the obligation under the agreement cannot be terminated by either party.

Tip: Employment law is governed by a number of legal provisions, but the Labour Code is its “bible”. It regulates both the basic principles and also very specific provisions describing the creation of the employment relationship and the circumstances of its duration. You will also find out what your employer must provide for you and what you are entitled to as an employee. We have therefore selected the five parts of the Labour Code that are most frequently asked.

Electronic delivery of documents

According to the current legislation, employment documents are divided into important documents (so-called documents under the former Section 334 of the Labour Code) and other documents. In order to electronically sign and deliver important documents remotely, it is necessary to meet relatively strict conditions. The scope of documents subject to the special regime has been narrowed and the delivery at the workplace is closer to the current communication without unnecessary formalities.

Documents relating to the creation, modification and termination of employment or agreements on work performed outside the employment relationship, the removal of a manager from his/her post, important documents relating to remuneration, such as pay slips or salary slips and a record of a breach of the temporary incapacity for work scheme of an insured person, must be served in the employee’s own hands (and therefore under a stricter regime).

These documents can be delivered electronically (by regular e-mail) or by data mailbox. It is still possible, of course, to deliver documents to the employee in person at the workplace or wherever he or she is present.

However, delivery by a postal service provider is somewhat restricted and will only be appropriate where delivery at the employer’s place of work is not possible.

The employer may serve a document via an electronic communications network or service provided that the employee has consented to this method of service in a separate written declaration. This is a private address of the employee (for example, on platforms such as gmail, list or hotmail) and not a work email address at the employer’s disposal. A document delivered via an electronic communications network or service is delivered on the date on which the employee acknowledges receipt to the employer by means of a data message. If the employee does not acknowledge receipt of the document within 15 days of the date of delivery, it shall be deemed to have been delivered on the last day of that period.

In the case of service by data mailbox, the so-called fiction of service also applies, i.e. if the employee does not log in to the data mailbox within 10 days from the date of delivery of the document to the data mailbox, the document is deemed to have been served on the last day of that period.

A major change is that it will no longer be necessary to affix the employee’s recognised electronic signature to the electronically delivered document, which in practice disqualified this form of communication from the various communication options.

Employees must be informed

Another area of change focuses on the creation of the employment relationship itself, where the employer already has an extensive information obligation. The amendment further expands and specifies this.

The employer must inform employees of:

  • the name and registered office of the employer if it is a legal person, or the name, surname and address of the employer if it is a natural person,
  • the details of the type and place of work,
  • the amount of leave and the method of determining the length of leave,
  • the duration and conditions of the probationary period, if any,
  • the procedure to be followed by the employer and the employee in terminating the employment relationship, and the duration and length of the notice period,
  • professional development, if provided by the employer,
  • the weekly working time, the method of staggering working time, including the length of the compensatory period if unequal staggering is applied, and the extent of overtime,
  • the extent of the minimum continuous daily rest and continuous weekly rest periods and the provision of meal and rest breaks or reasonable rest and meal periods,
  • the wage or salary and the method of remuneration, the due date for payment of the wage or salary, the date of payment of the wage or salary, the place and method of payment of the wage or salary,
  • the collective agreements governing the terms and conditions of employment of the employee and the designation of the parties to those collective agreements,
  • the social security body to which the employer pays social security contributions in connection with the employee’s employment.

The employer must provide this information within seven days of the commencement of the employment relationship. This significantly increases the legal certainty of the employee, who can still consider whether or not the conditions offered suit him or her during the probationary period.

The information can be provided directly in the employment contract or in an internal regulation to which reference is made and there is no need to burden the parties with additional paperwork.

The extended information obligation also covers the information that must be provided to employees posted to another Member State or to a third country, such as the expected duration of the posting, the financial or in-kind benefits resulting from the work, the conditions of return, etc.

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Review of agreements on work outside the employment relationship

Also in the area of agreements on work outside the employment relationship, the rights of workers are being increased, the situation clarified and the scope of the employer’s obligations increased. The changes in this area are quite significant and bring the agreements closer to the traditional employment relationship.

Employers will be subject to greater demands, inter alia, in that they must set out the working time schedule for employees in advance (at least 3 days). This should lead to greater predictability of work for employees. In practice, however, this is likely to result in administrative burdens and reduced flexibility in a variety of less formal relationships.

Agreement employees are now legally entitled to holiday pay. For an employee working under a performance or employment agreement, the weekly working time for the purposes of leave is 20 hours per week. This change will apply from January 2024.

Where an employer has offered an employee work under an agreement for at least six months in the previous year, the question arises whether to allow such an employee to work under an employment contract. The amendment addresses this by giving such an employee the right to ask the employer for employment under an employment relationship. While this does not give rise to a direct legal entitlement, the employer is obliged to respond to such a request with a written and reasoned reply.

Employees working under one of the agreements will also now be subject to all the provisions relating to obstacles to work. They will be entitled to time off, but the pay provisions will not apply to them. Employers will also be obliged to comply with the legislation on night work, on-call time and recording working time. Employers will thus no longer find it so profitable to fill weekend and night jobs with “contract workers”, or in many respects their working conditions will be comparable to those of employees in regular employment.

There will also be a greater alignment between the two groups of employees when the employment relationship is terminated. This will continue to be considerably easier for employers in the case of agreements, but they will now have to give reasons for termination of such a legal relationship at the written request of an employee employed under an agreement. This must occur in a situation where the employee believes that the employer has terminated his/her employment because he/she has asserted the rights enshrined in the amendment in a lawful manner.

Overtime in the healthcare sector

The most discussed change, which has caused heated debates in recent days, is the extended overtime in the healthcare sector. For professions providing inpatient health care, additional agreed overtime work can be performed above the current maximum limit set by the Labour Code. Such agreed work may not exceed 8 hours per week (or 12 hours for emergency service workers) in a period of no more than 26 consecutive weeks (unless a longer period is provided for in the collective agreement, but no more than 52 weeks).

The employer must keep a record of all such agreed work and notify the competent labour inspection authority of the application of the institute of additional agreed overtime work.

Clarification of the concept of continuous weekly rest

In response to certain uncertainties that have existed so far regarding this institute or its calculation, the amendment clarifies the concept of uninterrupted weekly rest.

The basic rule is thatthe employer is obliged to provide at least 24 hours of uninterrupted rest within a week, together with at least 11 hours of uninterrupted daily rest. The total duration of these rest periods is the continuous rest period of the week. Thus, a minimum of 35 hours of continuous rest per week is to be achieved. Modifications then apply, for example, to juvenile workers.

Reporting parental leave

The employee must now submit a written request for parental leave at least 30 days before the start of the leave. Such a request must also include information on the duration of the parental leave. This change responds to the inconvenience that employers may have experienced in the past if the employee did not notify the start of parental leave well in advance.

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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.

  • 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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