On 19 September 2023, the amendment to the Czech Labour Code was published in the Collection of Laws as the Act No. 281/2023 Coll.
In addition to the mandatory transposition of two EU directives, the amendment to the Labour Code also introduces other elements of the digitisation of labour law and responds to some practical requirements, such as the regulation of telework, as well as to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
In addition to the Labour Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Labour Inspection Act and the Income Tax Act are also being amended.
Effectiveness of the amendment
Most of the provisions of the act are to come into force on the first day of the month following the month in which the act is published in the Collection of Laws.
Considering the publication in the Collection of Laws already in September, i.e. on 19 September 2023, the act will enter into force on 1 October 2023. The provisions on leave for workers with agreement outside the employment relationship they will come into force on 1 January 2024.
Overview of changes
We have prepared a two-part article about the amendment and the changes it brings, the first part of which you are reading now. The aim of our article is to present a final overview of the fundamental changes that will affect the existing, long-established employment relations and procedures.
We present the first four changes below, with more to follow in the second part of our article, which you can read here: https://www.peytonlegal.cz/en/approved-amendment-labour-code-2nd-part/
- Electronic conclusion of contracts and agreements
A significant breakthrough is occurring in the area of basic HR agenda management, which is slowly but surely moving more into the digital environment, which should help to automate and make more effective work with employment documentation.
As a consequence, bilateral legal acts involving the creation, modification or termination of an employment relationship (typically employment contracts, agreements or amendments thereto or agreements on their termination) are now subject to a more liberal regime of service.
The first major change is the introduction of the possibility of electronic conclusion of bilateral labour negotiations. These may be concluded between the parties by means of a data mailbox or e-mail or other means of electronic communication, in this case a private electronic address provided by the employee to the employer for this purpose.
The employee is also entitled to withdraw from the documents so concluded, but not later than 7 days from the date of receipt. However, this is not possible in the case of agreements terminating the employment relationship or if the performance of work has already begun.
- Broader and modified employer information obligation
The existing information obligation of employers in relation to employees is significantly expanded, not only in terms of content, but also in terms of the range of persons to whom employers must comply with this obligation.
First of all, employers are obliged to provide their employees with much more information than has been the case to date. According to the amended wording of Section 37 of the Labour Code, employees must now be provided with information on, for example:
- the period and conditions of probation,
- the extent of overtime work, or also
- regarding the procedure to be followed when terminating employment relationship.
The employer must also provide all this information to the employee within a much shorter period of time, within 7 days from the date of employment.
However, existing staff should also be informed of the additional information within 7 days of their request.
However, the employer’s obligation to inform also applies to any other changes that occur during the employment relationship, which must also be communicated to all employees no later than the day they take effect.
As regards the scope of persons subject to mandatory information, this is extended under Section 37a of the Labour Code to include employees who are sent out to the territory of another state, the nature of the information provided differing depending on whether such an employee is posted to a third state or an EU state.
A special regulation of the information obligation is also established in relation to persons working under agreements for work performed outside the employment relationship, i.e. “contingent workers”, while the scope of information to be provided in this way is set out in the new § 77a and § 77b of the Labour Code, to a similar extent as for employees under an employment contract.
The Labour Code allows for mandatory information to be provided electronically. In such a case, the method of transmission itself plays a role in the information process, during which the employer must ensure that employees are always able to save and print out the information communicated.
The employer must have proof of the knowledge of the mandatory disclosures, confirming that the information was actually given to the employee.
- Fundamental changes to agreements outside the employment relationship
The amendment to the Labour Code introduces a number of significant changes in the area of agreements on work performed outside the employment relationship. This reduces their existing flexibility, which is driven by the intention to increase their predictability and protection of workers.
One of the main changes is the introduction of entitlement to paid leave, which will depend on the continuous duration of the agreement (minimum 4 weeks) and the number of hours worked (minimum 80 hours), similarly to the normal employment relationship. For the purposes of calculating the leave itself, the Labour Code introduces the fiction of a weekly working time of 20 hours per week. However, no special system for determining leave for contract workers is introduced; the existing leave legislation applies.
Another novelty is switching to another more predictable form of employment. This allows agreement workers to apply for a changeover to an employment contract provided that their employment relationship based on an agreement has lasted for at least 180 days in the previous 12 months. Although the employer is not obliged to comply with such a request, it must always provide the employee with a duly reasoned reply within 1 month of receiving it.
In addition, the aforementioned obligation to provide information must be fulfilled vis-à-vis the contracting parties. The list of information that must be communicated to them is set out in the newly added Section 77a of the Labour Code, or Section 77b if they are sent to perform work in the territory of another state.
The obligation to provide information is also closely linked to the mandatory working time. Employers must, without exception, draw up a working time schedule, which must be communicated to the employee in writing at least 3 days before the start of the shift, or at another time if agreed with the employee in advance.
Finally, it should be noted that contract workers are also entitled to written justification of the employer’s termination, especially if they believe that they received the termination in order to exercise certain rights under the Labour Code.
In the case of court proceedings, the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code introduces the institution of the reversed burden of proof for such cases, where this also applies to the termination of the employment of an employee with an employment contract.
Other newly established requirements include:
- entitlement to minimum scheme allowances (e.g. for weekend, night or public holiday work),
- entitlement to statutory rest periods and breaks from work, or
- the right to protection against obstacles to work on the part of the employer with wage compensation.
- Uninterrupted rest
Other changes introduced by the amendment include changes to the rules on the provision of uninterrupted daily rest and uninterrupted weekly rest.
The amendment changes the terminology, replacing the original “continuous rest between shifts” with “continuous daily rest”. Employers must now provide continuous daily rest of at least 11 hours over 24 consecutive hours (at least 12 hours for minors). This rest must then be actually given to the employee, not merely scheduled.
There has also been an amendment regarding uninterrupted weekly rest, in response to the CJEU judgment in Case C-477/21 (MÁV-START), which held that the European Directive had been incorrectly transposed and formulated fundamental conclusions regarding the provision of uninterrupted weekly rest and uninterrupted daily rest.
According to the new wording of Section 92 of the Labour Code, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with at least 24 hours of uninterrupted rest per week, together with at least 11 hours of uninterrupted daily rest – see above – for a total of at least 35 hours.
The amendment also lays down some special rules for technological processes and agriculture, where in certain circumstances and under certain conditions the period of continuous rest in the week can be reduced.
As the amendment represents major changes to the existing employment law, we are preparing a series of articles focusing on specific topics and the major changes generally described above. We will not only highlight the potential risks, but also offer practical advice and recommendations on how to set up the adaptation process correctly and efficiently internally.
Should you have any questions about the amendment to the Labour Code or need assistance with updating your existing employment documentation, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
Mgr. Jakub Málek, managing partner – email@example.com
Mgr. Kateřina Lansdorfová, junior lawyer – firstname.lastname@example.org
19. 09. 2023