Amendment to the labour code: Overview of the most important news
On 19 September 2023, Act No. 281/2023 Coll., amending the Labour Code, was promulgated in the Collection of Laws. Most of the amendment will come into effect on 1 October 2023, while some provisions on the taking of leave by contract workers providing work under an agreement to complete a job ("DPP") or an agreement to perform work ("DPČ") will come into effect on 1 January 2024. Below we summarise the most important changes introduced by the amendment.
CHANGES TO WORK FROM HOME (REMOTE WORK)
- Remote work will now be possible in principle only based on a written agreement on remote work (except for remote work ordered by the employer based on the decision of a public authority). A remote work agreement will also need to be concluded with all employees who already work remotely, by 1 November 2023. Failure to comply with this obligation is an offence for which a fine of up to CZK 300,000 may be imposed.
- The remote work agreement can be terminated for any reason or without giving a reason with a notice period of 15 days, unless the parties agree on a different notice period. The parties can also agree in the agreement that neither of the parties may terminate the obligation arising from this agreement, which can be applied especially if the parties intend for the employee to work remotely for the entire duration of the employment relationship.
- For employees working under an employment contract (for a fixed or indefinite period) ("PP"), a so-called opt-out obligation to cover the costs associated with remote work has been introduced. For employees on a DPP or DPČ, this obligation is only opt-in. If the parties do not agree otherwise, the employer has a general obligation to cover the costs associated with remote work that the employee proves to the employer. Alternatively, it can be agreed in the remote work agreement or stipulated in the internal regulations that the employee will be entitled to a flat-rate amount as compensation for the costs associated with work from home. The minimum amount of the flat rate is set by decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and according to the current draft of the decree, it should be CZK 4.60 per hour.
- The employer and the employee can agree in the remote work agreement that the employee will schedule the work themselves under the agreed conditions. However, the maximum length of a shift may not exceed 12 hours.
- The amendment covers some specifics of remote work in a situation where the employee schedules the work themselves. For example, such an employee will not be entitled to wage or salary compensation in the event of other important personal obstacles to work. However, for the purposes of providing wage or salary compensation or compensation from DPP or DPČ and for employees who schedule their own work to take leave, the distribution of working hours into shifts, which the employer is obliged to determine in advance, will apply.
CHANGES TO DPP/DPČ
- The employer will be obliged to schedule the working hours in a written working hours schedule and to inform the contract worker about it or a change to it no later than three days before the start of the shift or the period for which the working hours are scheduled (unless the employer agrees with the employee on another familiarisation time).
- Contract workers will have the right to cite all obstacles to work and to take vacation leave. Compensation from the agreement for the duration of other important personal obstacles to work and obstacles to work due to the general interest, however, may be granted to these employees only if the agreement or internal regulations so stipulate. For the purposes of calculating vacation time, the length of weekly working hours is 20 hours per week.
- The employer's obligation to inform employees about the content of the legal relationship established by the agreements applies, similarly to what is currently the case in employment relationships.
- Contract workers will have the right to apply in writing for employment in an employment relationship if their legal relationships under a DPP or DPČ have lasted at least 180 days in total with the employer during the previous 12 months. The employer will be obliged to provide the employee with a reasoned written answer within one month at the latest.
- The employer will be obliged to inform the employee in writing without undue delay of the reasons for the termination of the DPP or DPČ, if the employee believes that the termination was due to the exercise of some of their rights arising from the Labour Code and requests a written justification for the termination within one month from the date of delivery of the employer's notice of termination.
- The employer will be obliged to provide contract workers with additional time off for work on a holiday and additional pay for work on Saturdays and Sundays, night work and work in a difficult work environment.
CHANGES TO THE INFORMATION OBLIGATION
- The amendment significantly expands the employer's information obligation towards employees in a PP or a legal relationship established by a DPP or DPČ. The employer is now obliged to inform the employee, for example, about the duration and conditions of the probationary period, the method of allocating working hours and the extent of overtime work, the mandatory procedure of the employer and employee when terminating the employment relationship, and other essentials of the employment relationship. The extended information obligation will also need to be met with respect to an existing employee who requests it.
- The employer is obliged to inform the employee exclusively in writing and document the information provided. The information obligation can also be fulfilled electronically, but in such a way that the employee can save and print it.
- The deadline for complying with the information obligation is shortened from one month to 7 days (including additionally for existing employees). The employer is obliged to notify the employee of the changes without delay, no later than on the effective date, unless the changes are to the collective agreement or internal regulations, for which the existing legal regulation on their changes will be applied (15-day deadline).
- The obligation to inform employees (PP, DPP and DPČ) seconded to perform work abroad will be extended by the conditions of performing work abroad, if the secondment exceeds four consecutive weeks.
CHANGES IN THE AREA OF WORK-LIFE BALANCE
- The employer is obliged to provide the employee with continuous daily rest lasting at least 11 hours during 24 consecutive hours; for a minor employee, at least 12 hours in 24 consecutive hours. It will now be clear from the more detailed legislation that the decisive criterion for the provision of continuous rest is a cycle of 24 consecutive hours, not the total time between shifts.
- The amendment emphasises the employer's obligation to actually provide continuous daily rest and continuous weekly rest, not just to schedule working hours in such a way as to allow the taking of such rest.
- The employer is obliged to justify in writing the rejection of a request to enable remote work submitted in writing by a person who is pregnant, taking care of a child under the age of 9, or is the primary long-term caregiver of a person dependent on the help of another person in degree of dependence II., III. or IV.
- If a person who is pregnant is taking care of a child under the age of 15 or is the primary caregiver of a person dependent on the help of another person in degree of dependence II., III. or IV. requests in writing shorter working hours or other appropriate adjustment of the specified weekly or shorter working hours, the employer is obliged to comply with such a request, unless there are serious operational reasons preventing it from doing so. If such a request is rejected or a written request for (partial) restoration of the scope of the original weekly working hours is rejected, the employer is obliged to justify it in writing.
- A request for parental leave must be in writing, and the employee must submit it at least 30 days before starting parental leave, unless there are serious reasons preventing them from doing so. The request must include the duration of parental leave and can be submitted repeatedly.
CHANGES IN THE AREA OF DELIVERY BETWEEN THE EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE
- The possibility of electronic delivery and delivery to a data box for important one-sided documents is simplified.
- In the case of electronic delivery to employees, the employer must have the employee's written consent to such delivery made in a separate written statement containing the employee's private email address. The fiction of delivery within 15 days is introduced. The employee must be informed in writing of the conditions of delivery before making the statement.
- In the case of delivery to a data box, the employer and the employee are entitled to deliver documents to each other's data box, as long as the other party has not made it inaccessible for such delivery.
- If certain conditions are met, it is also possible to conclude PP, DPP, DPČ or changes to them through means of electronic communication. A recognised electronic signature is not required. The given document must be sent by the employer to the employee's private email address. The employee may withdraw from the document concluded in this way in writing within 7 days of delivery, if they have not already started to carry out or perform the work.
If you require assistance implementing the changes, do not hesitate to contact our expert labour law team.
Author: Martina Šumavská, Tatiana Rabinovich