Czech Republic:The Supreme Court of the Czech Republic has ruled on the issue of multiple employment relationships of between an employee andto a single employer, contrary to previous case law of the European Court of Justice
Author: Klára Sleglova
The Czech Supreme Court has addressed the issue of the extent to which types of work can be considered distinct if one merely complements the other. In the same judgement, it also interpreted the conditions for assessing compliance with the Labour Code in the case of two employment relationships with the same employer.
(File number: 21 Cdo 1929/2021-288)
In this case, the employee worked as a medical specialist in the urology department of a hospital. In addition to his regular employment contract, in which the type of work agreed was “medical specialist not providing emergency inpatient care,” the physician had also concluded a so-called agreement to perform work* with the same employer. Under this agreement, he undertook to carry out “emergency inpatient care duties.”
The employee brought forth a claim seeking overtime pay, arguing that the agreement to perform work was void since he was essentially fulfilling the same tasks as a medical specialist in the urology department under both the agreement and the employment contract. Consequently, he claimed that the work performed under the agreement to perform work should be classified as overtime work.
In a judgement favouring the employee, the Supreme Court emphasized that, as per the provisions of the Labour Code, an individual can engage in work for the same employer under an additional employment relationship only if the nature of the work significantly differs. In this case, the inpatient emergency care work was found to be merely a complement to the primary responsibilities.
Additionally, in its reasoning, the Supreme Court noted that the condition of a different type of work is the only one that needs to be considered in relation to multiple employment relationships with the same employer. It further clarified that in cases of multiple employment relationships with the same employer, all rights and entitlements will be assessed independently for each employment relationship.
However, such a conclusion is contrary to the case law of the European Court of Justice, which ruled in Case C-585/19 (Academia) that if an employee concludes several employment contracts or agreements with one employer, the length of the minimum daily rest period applies to these employment relationships as a whole. Thus, an employee’s overall working hours must not exceed the limit set forth by the national law or the European Directive, respectively, even if they undertake work on a given day based on multiple contracts or agreements.
*An agreement to perform work establishes a special form of employment with shorter working hours (a maximum of ½ of the stipulated weekly working hours), a shorter notice period, and other specifics.
- This decision creates uncertainty for employers when scheduling the working time of an employee who works in multiple employment relationships for them. However, given the primacy of European law, we recommend following the ECJ’s interpretation.
- Employment relationships with one employer must always be for fundamentally different types of work; one cannot complement the other.