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When are you entitled to paid leave?

Do you need to move, get your dog treated for strep throat, or take your dog to the vet? In all cases, these are situations that usually take place during your working hours. On which occasions are you entitled to paid (or unpaid) time off from your employer? And what if you want time off to travel, for example?

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In the course of our lives, many things happen to us that simply make it impossible for us to come to work. Some situations where paid or unpaid leave can be taken are described directly in the Labour Code, while others are referred to a government regulation that sets out the scope and extent of such leave. Thanks to the legislation protecting employees, you will not only save your leave, but in many cases you will even receive income (wage or salary compensation) as if you were working properly.

Medical treatment and visiting the doctor

You may have a number of reasons for going to the doctor – your employer may send you for an occupational health check, or it may be for a regular preventive check-up or illness. Each of these reasons has a slightly different regime.

Occupational health check-up

In the event of an occupational health check-up or any examination that is related to your work, you are entitled to be given time off work for as long as necessary. You are also entitled to wage compensation.

Tip: Occupational health examinations, their types and frequency were discussed in our article.

Are you dealing with a legal problem related to your entitlement to paid time off?

Is your employer restricting you and not allowing you to take the time off you are entitled to? Contact us and we’ll help you enforce your rights.

A routine visit to the doctor

If you are not ill but still go to the doctor (for example, for a regular preventive check-up with the dentist or your GP), you should go outside your working hours. However, as this is usually not possible (either because of overlapping surgery hours with your working hours or because you are happy that the dentist has at least found you an appointment), your employer should give you time off in this case too.

It is to your advantage if you have chosen the medical centre closest to your home or workplace for the visit or procedure. In this case, you are entitled not only to time off work but also to wage compensation. If your practitioner is two hours away from your home, while the nearest one is only five minutes away, your employer should theoretically only reimburse you for the five-minute journey and the visit itself.

An available solicitor advises: As a rule, no one asks where exactly your doctor is based and whether you spent an hour or two with him or her. In our experience, employers generally allow and fully reimburse such visits on a flat-rate basis. Consistent application of the law would be more likely to occur when you leave work very frequently and abuse the benevolence of the law, or if you had all your doctors in Ostrava, for example, and worked in Prague. But even then the situation would not be black and white – an employee can argue that no specialist closer to his workplace was accepting new patients, there are long waiting times at the doctor’s office, etc. Unless it is an extreme abuse of the system, as a rule no one voluntarily enters into such disputes.

Donating blood or plasma

If you are a regular blood or plasma donor, you are entitled not only to travel to and from the donation, but also to a 24-hour recovery period after the donation. You can donate blood up to four or five times a year. In contrast, plasma can be donated every 14 days, which can theoretically mean 24 free days a year.

Under Czech law, however, employers cannot restrict or prohibit their employees from donating.

Interestingly, the law does not differentiate between free and paid donations, where the donor is entitled to approximately CZK 700 per plasma donation. Together with time off work and wage compensation, this is indeed an unprecedented benefit.

The situation is similar when donating other biological materials. The donation, travel and recovery time should be within 48 hours (the doctor may extend this time to 96 hours for serious reasons).

Disease

In the case of illness, this is incapacity for work, which must be confirmed by your doctor. You are entitled to wage replacement or sick pay (a benefit paid by the state) for the period of time the doctor determines. For the first 14 days of temporary incapacity for work, you will receive wage compensation from your employer. If the temporary incapacity for work (or quarantine) lasts longer than 14 calendar days, the state pays you sick pay. Previously, employees were not entitled to any wage replacement during the first three days of sickness. However, an amendment to the legislation made in 2019 abolished this so-called “withdrawal period” and the employer is now obliged to pay wage compensation from the first day of sickness. The wage replacement is, like sick pay, 60% of the employee’s average wage.

Tip: We have written more about sick employee claims in our article.

Accompanying a family member to the doctor

You are entitled to time off work for a strictly necessary period of time when accompanying a family member to a doctor for an examination or treatment – this can be for a sudden illness or accident, but also for a planned examination. However, you are only entitled if the accompanying is necessary (typically for a young child or an incapacitated parent) and if the tasks could not be carried out outside working hours. The maximum amount of time off can be one day.

If you are accompanying your spouse, partner, child, your parents or grandparents, or your spouse’s parents or grandparents, you are entitled to full pay. For other close people, your employer should give you time off, but without pay. If there is any doubt as to whether an escort is necessary, a doctor can confirm this.

An available solicitor advises: If you are accompanying a sick child or other family member to the doctor’s office and are receiving sick pay, then you will not receive wage replacement from your employer, but a sick pay of 60% of your average wage.

Weddings, funerals and other family events

If you are getting married, from an employment law point of view it is worth setting the date of the ceremony for a working day. In this case, you are entitled to two days off. One day always falls on the actual attendance at the ceremony. If the ceremony is on a weekend or public holiday, you are only entitled to one day off. Only one day’s pay is ever due.

The wedding of certain other relatives also merits time off. If your child is getting married, you are entitled to one day of paid time off. If, for example, your parent has planned a second wedding, you will only get one day’s leave without pay.

Death in the family

A death in the family may entitle you to up to three days of paid leave (in the case of a husband, wife, partner or child). Two days are for the death itself and one day for attending the funeral.

You are entitled to one day’s paid leave if the funeral is for your parent, sibling, your spouse’s parent or sibling, or your child’s spouse. You may add one day to this if you are arranging a funeral.

For more distant relatives, such as your or your spouse’s grandparent, grandchild, or other close person who was living in the household with you at the time of the death, you are entitled to paid leave for as long as necessary, but not more than one day. The same conditions apply to the funeral of a fellow employee. The employer determines the persons attending the funeral.

For the funeral of more distant relatives such as an uncle, aunt, cousin, you must take leave or make individual arrangements with your employer. However, the law no longer guarantees you anything in this case.

The death is also linked to the probate process. If you are summoned to see a notary for this reason, you are entitled to leave without pay.

Birth of a child

When a child is born, the father is entitled to paid leave, but only for as long as necessary:

  • to transport the child’s mother to and from a medical facility (with pay),
  • to attend the birth (without pay).

Study leave and job search leave

If you are on notice, you are entitled to unpaid leave to look for a new job for one half-day a week during this period. It is irrelevant whether your employer or you have terminated your employment.

If you are studying at work, you must first agree with your employer whether he agrees with your studies and sees them as an improvement in the qualifications necessary for your position. If this is the case, you are entitled to time off work with pay equal to your average earnings:

  • to the extent necessary to attend classes, teaching or training,
  • 2 working days to prepare for and take each examination as part of a programme of study at a university or college,
  • 5 working days to prepare for and take the final examination, the matriculation examination or the graduation examination,
  • 10 working days for the preparation and defence of a graduation thesis, bachelor’s thesis, diploma thesis, dissertation or written thesis which culminates studies in a lifelong learning programme run by a higher education institution,
  • 40 working days to prepare for and take the state final examination, the state rigorosum examination in medicine, veterinary medicine and hygiene and the state doctoral examination.

By contrast, further training means, for example, some additional training or course that your employer may order. In such a case, it will also provide you with the cost of the training and the attendance itself is considered as work performance.

Moving

Moving house can be another reason for taking time off. Here, a distinction is made as to whether the move is in the employer’s interest, then the employer will grant time off with pay. If this is not the case, unpaid leave may be granted for a maximum of one day for a move within the same municipality and for a maximum of two days for a move to another municipality.

Compensatory leave for overtime or work on public holidays

In certain situations, your employer may require you to work on public holidays or order you to work overtime. Your employer has two options for compensation: extra pay or compensatory time off. In the case of compensatory time off, the math is simple: as much extra work as you have worked, you can take that much time off.

Sick day

Sick leave for employees is a type of paid time off that is not regulated by the Labour Code. It is only a benefit that your employer may or may not give you. If you have it in your employment contract, you can of course also request and claim it.

Entitlement to unpaid leave

If you are interested in unpaid leave for reasons other than those mentioned above, such as travel or your own projects, it depends on your relationship with your employer and the extent to which you are dispensable. However, you are not entitled to leave in this case.

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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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