The Labor Code will ring in far-reaching changes in 2023. Employers in particular should prepare for new obligations which arise for them from the planned amendment to the Labor Code. Major changes have been proposed in particular with respect to work arrangements outside a proper employment relationship, the regulation of work from home, and the communication between employer and employee.
The rationale behind the proposed changes is not just the transposition of EU directives strengthening the rights of employees ; the amendment also seeks to reflect practical requirements of the new reality in employment relations, or the on-going digitalization of human lives. In what follows, we provide a brief overview of the most important new rules, based on the proposed amendment bill.
Fundamental changes await us in the area of work arrangements outside proper employment – known by their acronyms “DPP” and “DPČ”, i.e., the “agreement to perform a job” and the “agreement on work performance”. They will become far less flexible, as they come within the purview of the more rigid rules which previously only applied to “classic” employment. Employers will newly be obliged to set out the working hours in writing also for such “part-time and small-time” workers, in a weekly schedule. The employee will have to be familiarized with the schedule (or changes to the same) at least one week ahead of time (unless they reach an agreement with the employer on a different notification period). Employees under a DPP or DPČ arrangement will also be entitled to the recognition of all forms of obstacles to work and, provided certain requirements are met, to vacation. In addition, the employer must warrant that they are given rest breaks, and an additional allowance (or substitute leave or substitute pay) for work at night, during weekends, on state holidays, or in a particularly taxing work environment.
Remote working has also necessitated a number of new concepts. The amendment stipulates concrete rules for this form of work to provide a regulatory framework as well as legal certainty for both parties. Employees may newly request that they be allowed to work remotely; if the employer does not accommodate their request, they must substantiate the reasons for this decision in writing. “Home office” arrangements always presuppose a written agreement between the employee and the employer which must at the very least set out the contents that are mandatory under the law (such as the place of performance, working hours, manner of communication between employee and employer, or the manner in which work tasks are being assigned). The amendment bill also proposes a straightforward way in which to compensate related expenses, by way of a lump-sum allowance which would include the majority of typical expenses on the part of the employee (by introducing an hourly flat fee for gas, electricity, water, and waste removal). Newly, employers will be required by force of law to allow remote work in the case of specific employee categories, unless urgent operational reasons or the inherent nature of the work that is to be performed make this impossible. This means that, in particular, employees caring for a child aged 15 or younger, as well as pregnant employees, should be entitled to work from home if they ask their employer for making such an arrangement possible. In the case of these employee categories, the employer will not only have to provide written reasons for the denial of a request for working from home, but also for denying a request for reduced daily working hours or for a suitable rescheduling (or shortening) of the work week. The employer should also accommodate a written request by such employees who wish to restore the original working conditions.
One final novelty we’d like to mention in this overview is the introduction of digital service of process in labor-law relations. In this respect, the amendment bill goes beyond what is required by the transposition of the EU directives to answer a practical need. The amendment bill anticipates, among other things, that selected documents may be delivered via e-mail or databox. While the essential principles by which an employment relationship comes into existence are being preserved, the new rules suggest that if an employment contract (or agreement on work performance or agreement to complete a job, or changes to any of them) are concluded electronically, then the employer must send a counterpart to the employee’s own electronic address which the employee communicated to the employer in writing. The employee will then be entitled to walk away from the employment contract thus made, during a specified time period. This withdrawal from contract must be performed in writing, and will only be possible if the employee has not yet begun to perform work. The proposed new rules for electronic signing and service ought to deliver greater flexibility in employment relations and ease the administrative burden associated with the origination, change, or termination of employment, which in practice have so far been carried out in cumbersome physical (paper) form.
Given that the bill for the amendment to the Labor Code has only just embarked on its journey through the legislation procedure, it is still open in what form it will be passed, and when. We will of course keep an eye on any changes that will be adopted along the way, and on the progress of the bill, to inform you on these pages if and when it becomes relevant.
Explanatory memorandum for the bill
Press release by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs