At the close of January 2023, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs published a revised version of the amendment bill to the Labor Code which reflects various comments that were made on the previous language. Before the year is out, the amendment is likely to deliver a number of changes that will make themselves felt e.g. with respect to the working conditions for employees who take care of children.
The amended Labor Code will pose new demands in terms of employers offering more flexible ways in which to perform the work owed to them. This translates into changes e.g. in the area of remote working, but also as regards the working conditions for employees who look after children. The present article summarizes a few legal concepts which will be introduced by the amendment with respect to the latter area.
Even today, employees who take care of children below the age of 15 may ask the employer for a reduced contract or another suitable adjustment of their weekly working hours. And even according to the current wording of the Labor Code, the employer must in such a case accommodate the request unless there exist pressing operational grounds which make this unfeasible.
However, in contrast to the wording currently in force, the amended Labor Code demands that if the employer rejects the request for a reduction or other suitable adjustment of working hours, it must give a written explanation. In other words, employers will have to explain to their employees for what specific reasons their request was turned down. The amendment bill also introduces the concept of (full or partial) restoration of the weekly working hours of employees who previously asked their employer to adjust / modify their working hours, citing their child-rearing obligations. I.e., employees who successfully asked for a reduction of their working hours may ask that the previous state be (fully or partially) restored. If the employer dismisses such a request, it must again give its reasons in writing.
In addition, the amendment anticipates that employees who look after a child under the age of 9 may ask the employer to be allowed to work remotely. The current Labor Code provides no rules for this institution. However, the employer is under no obligation to accommodate such a request, so that it is entirely a matter of employer’s discretion whether or not it will accommodate the request for a remote working arrangement. However, as in the cases described above, so here, the employer must substantiate its reasons for turning down such a request, and must do so in writing.
In summary, 2023 will bring substantial changes in labor law. However, the definite language of the amendment is still unknown, even though the intention is for the bulk of the new provisions to take effect as soon as mid-2023.