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What innovations does the amendment to the Employment Relations Act bring?




On November 16, 2023, the Act on Amendments and Supplements to the Employment Relations Act (amendment ZDR-1D) entered into force. The news relates mainly to the rights of workers, regarding the employment contract, vacation, additional protection of certain categories of workers, agency work, the procedure for regular termination of the employment contract. Special protection for workers who are victims of domestic violence, carer's leave and a new right to disconnect are being introduced. All novelties are briefly summarized below:


CHANGES TO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

The first fundamental change that employers must pay attention to concerns the conclusion of an employment contract, whereby the ZDR-1D amendment adds two new essential components to Article 31, which the contract must on employment to contain, namely, in addition to the already existing components, a provision on the payment of allowances and other components of the employee's salary, the payment period, the payment day and the method of payment of the salary, as well as a provision on training provided by the employer. Where both parties to the employment contract can refer to laws, collective agreements or general acts of the employer. The amended Article 31 of the Employment Relations Act applies to all employment contracts concluded after the entry into force of the amendment ZDR-1D.


Another important change that has come to the regulation of the employment contract allows the employee to propose the conclusion of a new employment contract to the employer in order to improve the employment or working conditions. Such a request can be made after the expiration of 6 months from the conclusion of the employment contract or after the employee's probationary period, , if it lasts 6 months. The employer is obliged to respond to the request within 30 days, in writing or by electronic means to the employee's email address, which is provided and used by the employer. If there are several such requests from the employee and they are the same, the employer must justify his position again in writing, if at least one year has passed since the previously submitted proposal.


AGENCY WORK

ZDR-1D introduces a higher minimum compensation for the time of early termination of work for the user, or for the time when the employer does not provide work for the user in order to provide work for the employee. According to the amendment to the law, the compensation cannot be lower than 80% of the worker's salary, which is 10% higher than the previously valid regulation in the GDR.


THE POSSIBILITY OF SHORTER WORKING HOURS DUE TO THE NEEDS TO BALANCE YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PRIVATE LIFE

The amendment adds a new Article 65a, which stipulates shorter working hours due to the need to balance professional and private life. An employee who cares for a child up to the age of eight, or provides care defined in the fourth paragraph of Article 182 of the ZDR may, during the duration of the employment relationship, propose to conclude a part-time employment contract due to the need to balance professional or private life for a certain period of time. Insofar as the specific worker is already working for the employer on the basis of a full-time employment contract concluded for an indefinite period, the rights and obligations from the latter contract for the duration of the work on the basis of a part-time employment contract for a fixed period shall stand still.

The regulation of the employment contract for working at home is also changing. For the purposes of balancing professional and private life, the worker can propose concluding an employment contract for performing work at home. In such a case, the employer must justify his decision in writing within 15 days at the latest. This justification can also be sent electronically to the employee's email address, which is provided and whose use is mandated by the employer.


SPECIAL PROTECTION OF WORKERS WHO ARE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Protection of workers who are victims of domestic violence is introduced. Workers who are victims of domestic violence have the right to special protection in the employment relationship under the new regulation introduced by the amendment ZDR-1D. 

A worker who is a victim of domestic violence may, during the duration of the employment relationship, propose concluding a part-time employment contract for the period of arranging protection, legal and other procedures and eliminating the consequences of violence in to the family. Such an employee has the right  to be paid for work according to the actual work obligation and other rights and obligations from the employment relationship as an employee who works full-time, while having social security rights as if he worked for full time. For workers who are victims of domestic violence, Article 168a is added, which guarantees them five working days of paid absence from work in an individual calendar year in the case of arranging protection, legal and other procedures and eliminating the consequences of domestic violence. It is possible to order such an employee to perform work beyond the full working time, uneven distribution or temporary redeployment or night work only with his prior written consent.


NEW PROCEDURE FOR REGULAR TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS FOR FAULTY REASON

The period during which the employee may not repeat the violation cited in the warning before regular termination of the employment contract due to fault is changed by law from one year to six months. The maximum permitted term is also shortened if the term is specified in the collective agreement at the activity level, namely from two years to 18 months.


Article 85 changes the regulation of the employer's obligations before termination of the employment contract due to fault. In accordance with the new paragraphs 4, 5, and 6, upon the written request of the employee, which he makes within three working days of receiving the written warning, the employer must provide the opportunity to defend the employee against alleged violations, except when there are circumstances that would make it unreasonable to expect the employer to allow the employee to do so. A trade union or a workers' council, a worker's representative or a person authorized by the worker, if he is not a member of the trade union, may also participate in the defense procedure upon the worker's authorization.

Procedures for terminating an employment contract due to fault, started before the amendment came into effect, are terminated in accordance with the previous regulation.

 

EXTRAORDINARY TERMINATION BY THE EMPLOYEE

The employee can now resign if the employer has not paid him salary or salary compensation for at least two months and if the employer has not paid him salary or salary compensation twice in a row or within a period of six months at legal or the contractually agreed term.


SUBSIDIARY LIABILITY IN THE FRAMEWORK OF CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY

The new Article 141.a introduces subsidiary liability in the context of construction activity. It stipulates that if the employer, who is a subcontractor, does not provide payment to the employee, the contractor, whose direct subcontractor is the employer, is subsidiarily responsible for fulfilling this obligation.


EXPERIMENTAL WORK

Amendment ZDR-1D adds an additional explanation in the regulation of probation in Article 125. Probationary work can still only last for six months, and the amendment additionally emphasizes that if the probationary work is agreed in a fixed-term employment contract, the duration of the probationary work is determined in proportion to the duration of this contract and the nature of the work. If, however, a new consecutive fixed-term employment contract is concluded for the same job, the second one may not include a trial period. Probationary work can only exceptionally be extended in case of temporary absence from work.


NEW RIGHT TO WITHDRAW

One of the more important changes introduced by the amendment is the so-called the right to disconnection, according to which the employer must ensure to the employees that during the exercise of the right to rest or during justified absences, the employee will not be available to the employer. In order to ensure the new right, the employer must take appropriate measures, which the legislator envisages would be specified in the collective agreement at the activity level or insofar as this is not possible with a collective agreement of a narrower level. Regarding the adopted measures, the trade union must give an opinion, and if there is no such opinion, the workers' council or labor trustee. The employer must decide on the opinion.


CARING LEAVE

A new article is added, which allows the worker the so-called care leave. An employee is entitled to carer's leave in the case of the need for significant care for health reasons of certain family members, namely the spouse or other persons with whom he lived in a community of life, who according to family law are equated with marriage or partner in a registered same-sex union, children, adopted children and children of a spouse or common-law partner, parents (father, mother, spouse or common-law partner of a parent, adoptive parent. An employee is entitled to five working days of carer's leave in an individual calendar year in case of care.


SENDING AN EMPLOYEE FOR EDUCATION IS COUNTED AS WORKING TIME

In the case of sending a worker to education, training and training, when the needs of the work process require it  or if it is possible to avoid it through education, training or training termination of the employment contract due to incapacity or business reasons, the time of specific education is counted as working time by the employer.


WORKING TIME OF CHILDREN UNDER 15 YEARS OF AGE

Amendment ZDR-1D shortens the working hours of children under 15 who do light work during school holidays from seven hours a day and 35 hours a week to six hours a day and 30 hours per week. Provide such children with at least two weeks of uninterrupted rest.



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