Czech Republic: Changes in the draft amendment to the labour code
Last September we informed you of major changes that the Czech employment law is to undergo as a result of the amendment to the Labour Code and related labour regulations.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic dealt with hundreds of comments that were received on the original draft amendment to the Labour Code and submitted a modified draft to the Government at the end of January this year. Below we summarise the main changes brought about by the draft. We suppose that the amendment could come into effect this autumn; some of the proposed changes are scheduled to come into effect from 1 January 2024.
1. TELEWORK (SECTION 317 OF THE LABOUR CODE)
The most significant change in the telework regulation is the deletion of the paragraph on the mandatory elements of the telework agreement. The terms of the agreement may therefore be determined by the parties themselves. In our experience, the agreement should, at a minimum, provide for the agreed place of performance of telework, the manner in which communication between the employee and the employer will take place, how the work will be assigned to the employee and how the work will be supervised, determination of the scope of the work to be performed, and the manner in which working time will be scheduled.
Telework may then only be ordered by the employer, taking into account the mandatory rules and general principles contained in the Labour Code. Under the draft amendment, telework may only be ordered if a measure of a public authority pursuant to another law so stipulates, for a necessary period of time, if the nature of the work to be performed allows so, and on condition that the place of performance of telework is suitable for the performance of work.
However, if telework is ordered, the employer shall not be entitled to unilaterally determine the place of performance of telework but shall be obliged to ask the employee to inform the employer of his/her place of performance of telework.
The notice period for a telework agreement will remain at 15 days, but it will be possible to agree on a different notice period, provided that the length of the notice period is the same for both parties.
With regard to the reimbursement of costs incurred by the employee in connection with the performance of telework, the amendment now provides that the employer shall be obliged to pay employees a lump sum only if this has been agreed in writing or provided for in an internal regulation.
For the period of teleworking for which the employee has been granted this lump sum (i.e. CZK 2.80 per each hour commenced – the starting value of the lump sum will be stipulated by law and further adjusted by decree with regard to the development of the indicators concerned), the employee cannot at the same time be reimbursed for the same types of documented costs.
2. CHANGES IN THE ELECTRONIC DELIVERY OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS (SECTION 334 ET SEQ. OF THE LABOUR CODE)
In the area of electronic delivery of documents, the Ministry was not very keen on further changes, however, the new draft reflects at least some of the reservations raised in the comment procedure.
The stricter delivery regime will apply to the delivery of notices of employment termination, immediate termination, termination within the probationary period and other documents relating to employment termination or legal relationships established under the agreement on performance of work or the agreement on work activity, and the discharge or resignation from a managerial position. Despite numerous comments, both wage and salary statements remain among the important documents.
If a document is delivered by the employee to the employer via an electronic communications network or service, to an electronic address, it will not need to bear a qualified electronic signature.
The employer will only be entitled to deliver a document electronically if the employee grants his/her consent to this in a separate written declaration, also specifying an electronic address for this purpose. Before the employee granting the consent, the employer must inform the employee in writing of the conditions for electronic delivery of the document, including the statutory time limit in connection with the so-called fiction of delivery. The consent may be withdrawn in writing by the employee without giving any reason.
The draft amendment also specifies that documents delivered by the employer to the employee will have to be delivered to an electronic address that is not in the employer’s possession. In practice, this means that delivery of the document to the employee’s work email address or via the employer’s internal system will not be effective.
If the employment contract, the agreement on work activity, the agreement on performance of work or amendments thereto, or agreements on termination thereof are concluded via an electronic communications network or service, the employer shall be obliged to send a copy thereof to the employee’s electronic address which is not in the employer’s possession and which the employee has communicated in writing to the employer for these purposes. The employee shall have the right to withdraw from these documents from the moment of the conclusion thereof, but no later than 7 days from the date of delivery thereof to the employee’s electronic address.
3. INFORMATION ON THE TERMS OF AN EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP (SECTIONS 37 AND 37A OF THE LABOUR CODE)
The employer shall now be obliged to inform the employee about certain facts related to the terms of the employment relationship within 7 days from the date of its commencement, or about changes to its terms no later than on the effective date of such changes.The original draft amendment foresaw a much broader extent of information to be provided, but this has been limited in the light of comments.
The extent of information provided to employees when posted to another Member State or to a third country will also be considerably broadened.
In the case of providing information in electronic form, the information must be accessible to the employee and the employee must be able to save or print it. The employer shall be obliged to document the transmission of the information to the employee.
4. AGREEMENTS ON WORK PERFORMED OUTSIDE THE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP (SECTION 74 ET SEQ. OF THE LABOUR CODE)
The proposed regulation of the working time schedule in the case of agreements on work performed outside the employment relationship has been recast, with the new obligation to inform the employee of the working time schedule at least 3 days before the start of the shift or period for which the schedule is drawn up, unless both parties agree on a different time. However, care will still need to be taken to ensure that the work is sufficiently predictable, also for a reason that Section 37 of the Labour Code, which is to include the anticipated amount of working time per day or week, shall apply mutatis mutandis to the relationships of employees working on the basis of agreements.
As regards the provisions on leave, from the proposed effective date of 1 January 2024, these should also apply to such relationships, with a fictitious working time of 20 hours per week.
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