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 second 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.
Below we present four more changes, the first four changes were presented in the first part of our article, which you can read here: https://www.peytonlegal.cz/en/amendment-czech-labour-code/.
- Introducing rules for teleworking
The amendment stipulates that the performance of telework may be agreed upon in principle by means of a written agreement, the content of which is not specified in the Labour Code. Although it is left to the will of the contracting parties what they agree on in this agreement, it is recommended that it should at least regulate the basic conditions of performance, which include in particular the location(s) of the work, the method of communication, the scheduling of working hours, including the scope of work, or the equally important area of occupational health and safety.
The agreement can be terminated by giving 15 days’ notice, however, it is possible for the parties to agree not only on a different length of notice but even on the impossibility of termination of the agreement. Of course, it is possible to terminate the agreement by agreement of the parties.
Beyond the contractual arrangement, the employer will be able to order the employee to perform telework, but only if the special conditions set out by law are cumulatively met. Thus, telework may only be ordered (i) if a measure of a public authority so provides, (ii) if the nature of the work to be performed permits remote performance, (iii) if the designated place is suitable for telework, and (iv) if it is ordered for the period of time strictly necessary.
However, the actual choice of the place of work is no longer up to the employer, but to the employee, who must do so without undue delay at the written request of the employer or inform the employer that he or she does not have such a suitable place.
There are costs inherent in teleworking. In order to compensate for them, a new Section 190a has been added to the Labour Code, which provides for three possible ways in which the costs associated with telework can be resolved.
- The first, but also administratively demanding, way is that the employee proves the costs incurred and is reimbursed in the amount so proved.
- Another way is the payment of a lump sum, the amount of which will be determined by a decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs according to data published by the CSO on a regular (i.e. as of 1 January of the new year) or other extraordinary date.However, payment of the lump sum must be agreed in advance in writing or set out in an internal regulation – such reimbursement up to the legal minimum amount will not be subject to taxation or levies, but higher amounts will.
- A final possible way of dealing with reimbursement is the completely opposite approach of agreeing in writing with the employee that he or she is not entitled to reimbursement.
However, the choice of any of the above mentioned methods of reimbursement of costs related to the performance of remote work does not affect the employee’s right to claim compensation for wear and tear of his/her own tools, equipment and objects necessary for the performance of work pursuant to Section 190 of the Labour Code, which the employer is still obliged to pay according to the documents submitted by the employee.
If a pregnant employee, an employee caring for a child under the age of 9, or an employee caring mainly for a dependent person (at least level II) requests in writing to be allowed to telework and the employer does not comply with the request, the employer must give reasons in writing for its refusal.
- Applications for parental leave more accurately
Until now, the Labour Code has not required a mandatory written form for the purpose of applying for parental leave, although in practice this has been the standard procedure in most cases. However, this has been changed by the amendment, and employees who wish to request parental leave from their employer may do so only by means of a written request.
Employees must submit their application at least 30 days in advance, stating not only the date of commencement of parental leave, but also the period of parental leave.
On the other hand, there is no limit on the frequency of applications, allowing employees to apply repeatedly, especially for the purpose of extending existing parental leave.
- Flexible working time options
The employer is still obliged to take into account the needs of employees caring for a child when planning shifts, as was the case under the previous legislation.
The act establishes a range of persons, known as caring employees, who may request in writing to their employer a shorter working time or other appropriate adjustment of the fixed weekly working time or shorter working hours. These are pregnant employees, employees caring for a child under 15 years of age or employees who are mainly caring for a dependent person (minimum II degree of dependence).
The employer is obliged to comply with their request unless serious operational reasons prevent it. If it does not comply with the request, it must give reasons in writing.
Related to the above is also the institution of restoration or partial restoration of the original scope of working time, whereby an employee whose request for shorter working hours or other appropriate adjustment of the fixed weekly working time or shorter working time has been granted may request in writing to the employer to restore or partially restore the scope of the original weekly working time.
The employer is not obliged to grant the request for renewal, but it is obliged to give reasons for such refusal in writing.
- Changes in electronic delivery of employment documentation
First of all, it is necessary to draw attention to a change concerning the so-called important employment documents, i.e. documents delivered under a stricter regime (according to Section 334 of the Labour Code “in own hands”), the scope of which has been narrowed down by the amendment compared to the previous wording – in the amendment to the Labour Code these are referred to as “documents” and are as follows:
- unilateral documents relating to the termination of employment/legal relationships based on agreements on work outside the employment relationship
- g. dismissal, immediate or probationary termination
- removal from or resignation from a senior staff position
- letter of reproach (according to case law)
The amendment abandons the current hierarchical method of delivery, thus allowing the employer to choose the way in which the employment documentation will be delivered to the employee. An exception is the delivery by postal services, which the employer may only resort to if delivery at the employer’s workplace is not possible.
Another major change is the further availability of electronic delivery of important employment law documents.
For delivering by means of electronic communication, usually by e-mail, the amendment sets the following conditions, namely:
- the employee’s prior (revocable) consent by means of a separate written declaration, together with the designation of a private electronic address, and
- the employer’s obligation to affix a recognised electronic signature to the document.
However, if the document is delivered by an employee, an electronic signature will no longer be required.
However, the employer must always inform the employee in writing about the electronic delivery method before the employee’s consent is given by means of a written declaration.
As regards the process itself, the law provides for a fiction of service of 15 days from the date of delivery, after which the message is deemed to have been duly delivered. However, it will only apply if the delivery of the message is not acknowledged by the employee or the message sent is returned as undeliverable.
Prior consent is now not required only in the case of delivery to the employee’s data box. The only obstacle in this respect may be if the employee makes the data box unavailable for delivery of documents from the data box of a natural person, a natural person conducting business or a legal entity pursuant to Section 18a of the Act on Electronic Acts and Authorised Conversion of Documents. In the case of delivery to a data box, the fiction of delivery shall apply if the message is not opened within 10 days of its delivery.
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
21. 09. 2023