Year 2019 was a year full of great, but in many ways unfulfilled, expectations for labour law, the government’s amendment to the Czech Act No. 262/2006 Coll., the Labour Code, as amended (hereinafter referred to as the “Labour Code”) has been subject to extensive discussions as its content was supposed to adapt labour law to the current trends and needs of practice (hereinafter the “Amendment”).
Although the original intention of the government was for the Amendment to come into effect on 1 July 2019 and selected provisions regarding holiday on 1 January 2020, the Amendment was not approved by the government until 16 December 2019. The Amendment was delivered to the Chamber of Deputies in early January of this year where it is now waiting to be discussed by members of parliament as part of first reading.
The Amendment essentially merges two proposals to amend the Labour Code into one – a proposal from 2018 consisting of changes to leave, shared job position and other amendments, and a proposal from 2019 reflecting the European Directive concerning posting of workers. However, it is not a fundamental amendment to recast the Labour Code or its scheme, as is called for by specialists from public, especially in relation to the development of employment trends. In this article we will summarize any significant changes that a possible approval of the Amendment could bring for participants in employment relationships.
Holiday and the principle of weekly working time
The main theme of the forthcoming changes of the Labour Code is a new concept of leave. The Amendment fundamentally changes the conditions for the creation of the right to leave and the conditions for its use by an employee. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, as the author of the Amendment, decided to abandon the existing condition of sixty completed working days with the same employer for entitlement to part-time leave, and instead opted for the concept of weekly working hours from which the length of leave would be derived.
It is also worth noting that an employee will be able to transfer part of due leave period to the following calendar year, which has so far been practiced only based on an agreement between the employee and the employer without adequate support in the Act introduced by this Amendment. According to the Amendment, the employee will be able to transfer part of the annual leave for which he / she was entitled in the relevant calendar year and which exceeds 4 weeks (for teachers and academic staff of universities 6 weeks) to the following calendar year.
The author of the Amendment resorted to fundamental changes in the concept of leave period, mainly because the current legislation on leave in the Labour Code has long been subject to criticism by many employees but also by specialists from public. On the other hand, the newly chosen concept of weekly working time is an adequate response to such criticism, since it better reflects the employee’s actual working time and is more attractive to employees with irregularly allocated working hours.
Changes in delivery and obligation to notify any change of delivery address
The response to practical problems with delivery in employment relationships is a change in the hitherto criticized legislation on delivery of documents. The practical problems with delivery today arise especially for those documents that must be delivered to the employee’s own hands.
According to the Amendment, documents should be delivered to employees primarily at the workplace and, if this is not possible, wherever the employee can be reached. Subsequently through a postal service provider, an electronic communications network or service, or a data box. If a delivery to the employee will be via a postal service provider, the employee will himself be the one obliged to report in writing the correct and up-to-date information for delivery and thus bear partial responsibility for the delivery.
Already existing legislation works with fiction of delivery, which is designed so that in the event that the employee will not receive documentation through the postal service and subsequently not even at the postal service operator or the municipal office within 10 days, the document is considered delivered to the employee on the last day of this period. The Amendment only extends the collection time to 15 days.
The Amendment also deals with a problematic situation where the employer refuses to take over the document, fails to assist the employee or otherwise prevents delivery of the document at the place of its registered office or its place of business. In such case, the document shall be deemed to have been delivered on the day on which such event occurred.
The Amendment of Section 335a also comes with an alternative method of delivery via a data box, if the document cannot be delivered to the employee’s own hands at the workplace. However, according to the Amendment, this form of service can be resorted to only if the employee has given his / her written consent. In such a case, the document shall be deemed delivered even if the employee does not log into the data box within 10 days of the delivery of the given document to the data box.
Although the effort can be welcomed with gratitude, there remains some criticism. The Amendment does not work in any way with the fact that a large part of the communication between the employee and the employer is now via electronic means, especially through email communication. Therefore, we believe that if one of the original intentions of the Amendment – the reflection of current trends – is to be fulfilled, the absence of more elaborate modification of electronic communication especially via email, as a means of effective delivery of documents in labour relationships, is a lack thereof, mainly due to the increasing rate of digitalisation.
Shared job position
Sharing is a trend that is currently moving the world, with such a force, that it has also affected labour law. The Amendment seems to support this trend and is responding by enshrining Section 317a into the Labour Code which introduces the concept of a shared job position into the Czech legal order.
According to the Amendment, the concept of a shared job position is designed in such a way so that the employer can conclude agreements with two or more employees with shorter working hours for the same type of work, according to which employees will schedule their working hours themselves as shifts by mutual agreement. The schedule will have to be set up so that each employee, based on a common working time schedule, fulfils an average weekly working time of no more than a four-day adjustment period.
The introduction of a shared job position into the legal system is an effort of the legislator to introduce a flexible working regime which intersects both the employer’s ideas of effective work and the needs of employees to reconcile family and working life.
Other significant changes
In terms of working hours and rest periods, the Amendment envisages the abolition of a so-called additional agreed overtime work in healthcare, i.e. overtime work in continuous operation related to admission, treatment, care or provision of pre-hospital emergency care in hospitals performed by a doctor, dentist or pharmacist or non-medical healthcare professional working in a continuous working mode.
Lastly, the Amendment will also bring a significant change in the amount of lump-sum compensation for survivors in the event of employee’s death as a result of an accident at work. Compensation will be calculated on a basis of the average wage in the national economy for the first to third quarters of the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the survivor’s right to one-off compensation arises. The amount of the average wage will be announced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs by a notice published in the Collection of Laws, whereas the amount of such compensation should be at least twenty times the given average wage. According to the mechanism described above one-off compensation in 2020 (calculated according to the average wage of the first to third quarters of 2019) would rise from the current minimum of CZK 240,000 to CZK 668,580.
Although the planned changes in the Labour Code appear to be clear so far, their further development and modifications in the legislative process. Moreover, there are already some voices from several political parties which consider the current version of the Amendment to be a failure, and it is likely that its final version will be preceded by a long legislative process with number of further amendments. The Amendment can thus be expected to be in effect at best in the middle of this year.
We will inform you in time about any developments of the legislative process and the subsequent entry into force of the Amendment and in thematic articles focusing on the individual major changes above. If you have any questions regarding this Amendment, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
JUDr. Jáchym Stolička, junior lawyer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mgr. Jakub Málek, partner – email@example.com
27. 01. 2020
 More information at: https://www.psp.cz/sqw/text/tiskt.sqw?O=8&CT=689&CT1=0
 HŮRKA, P.: Czech legislation on the origin of the right to leave and the need for its amendment. Soukromé právo, Prague: Wolters Kluwer ČR, a. s., 2018, č. 5, pp. 20-24. ISSN 2533-4239.