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Working hours and their variations

Working hours may not be the first thing employees look at when choosing a job. However, it plays a very important role and every employee should find out in advance how the employer envisages working hours.

Lékařský personál se baví na chodbě nemocnice
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Fixed or flexible working hours?

Having a clear idea of working hours is important for employees. Are overtime, weekends off and how long are shifts expected? However, for employers in particular, there are rules to follow when setting working hours to keep the operation running while giving employees time to relax.

First, let’s be clear about what exactly is considered working time. It is both the time when an employee is required to perform work for the employer and the time when he or she must be at the workplace ready to perform that work. Therefore, as it begins, the employee needs to be present at the workplace but also ready to perform his or her work.

Therefore, if he needs to change into his work clothes, for example, the time spent changing does not count as working time. An employer may require employees to come to work early just to be ready to work at the appointed time.

Employee responsibilities

The basic working time is 40 hours per week. There are exceptions where the hours set are shorter, for example for workers in mines, but also in two-shift, three-shift or continuous operation. The employer is obliged to schedule the working time into certain shifts within the week. The difference between working time and a shift is that working time includes overtime, whereas a shift is only what was originally scheduled, so overtime is not included. However, the rule for employers remains that the length of a shift must not exceed 12 hours.

The working time is normally spread over a five-day working week. When scheduling working time, the employer must take into account that the scheduling does not conflict with the considerations of safe and healthy work.

If the working time is fixed, the employee must arrive for his shift at a fixed time and the employer shall also fix the end of the working time. In the case of flexible working hours, it can be said with some exaggeration that the employee can come and go as and when he or she wishes. The employer usually sets certain basic periods of time (e.g. 10am – 2pm) when the employee must be available at the workplace and then optional periods when it is up to the employee to work. However, on average, even a flexible worker should work 40 hours per week (unless they have reduced hours). The weekly working time must be completed within a compensatory period to be determined by the employer (no longer than 52 weeks).

One way to deal with uneven working time is the so-called working time account, which can be introduced by the employer by internal regulation or collective agreement. This is a rather complex institution and therefore not many employers make use of it. However, if used correctly, it can help employers in situations where they have seasonal fluctuations in demand for their goods or services and therefore need more flexibility.

Working time arrangements vary widely: shorter or longer hours, fixed hours, irregular hours. In our next article, we will advise you on what you are entitled to under each option and what to choose if you have a choice.

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Shared workplace

Probably one of the most interesting innovations in employment law is the introduction of the so-called shared workplace. In a nutshell, this works by two or more employees taking turns in one position to fill a work schedule that does not exceed the weekly work pool.

Thus, one job can be shared by those employees who have an agreed employment relationship with the same type of work and agreed shorter working hours. In this case, however, an individual agreement must be negotiated between the employer and each employee. Such an agreement can then be terminated bilaterally or only unilaterally without giving any reason and with 15 days’ notice. If the agreement is terminated with only one employee, this has no effect on the existence of the employment relationship.

This legislation also provides for fixed working time allocation between employees in the form of a schedule submitted to the employer in advance in writing, without the possibility of substitution between employees. Any substitution is then possible only with the employee’s consent. This measure is intended to avoid a situation where both employees are constantly on call.

Theminimum and guaranteed wage in the case of a job-sharing arrangement will in principle correspond to a proportion (i.e. usually half) of the minimum wage, since the minimum wage applies to the job as such.

The key to success for the proper functioning of a job share is the selection of a colleague with whom the other employee will be able to communicate well. It is also important to ensure that tasks are divided precisely. It is not enough to simply define working hours, but it is also necessary to agree on the assumption of responsibility for individual tasks. It may therefore be standard practice to overlap the working hours of employees so that tasks are handed over and other organisational matters are dealt with during this time.

The main reason for introducing job sharing is to allow some freedom in employment relations. Because of the record low unemployment rate and the fact that young people in particular tend to favour lifestyle over career, employers are forced to resort to various atypical forms of employment. Although this is rather new for us, it is becoming increasingly popular in countries to the west of the Czech Republic. At present, about 7% of employers in the Czech Republic use a form of agreement that is very similar to job sharing, whereas in neighbouring Germany, for example, half of all companies use job sharing.

A shared workplace brings with it many benefits for both parties. It is calculated to increase the efficiency of employees and is a more creative solution to a factual situation. Since it is said that more heads know more, it can also eliminate possible mistakes. For the employees, it is then a great opportunity to develop in other directions or spend more time with family during the rest of the week.

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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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