Czech Republic: Employer Restraints on Termination of Employment during Protection Period
Author: Klára Sleglova
The Czech Labour Code provides for several cases wherein it is prohibited to give notice of termination of employment to an employee. In these cases, the employee is in the so-called protection period. In practice, a challenge quite often arises when employees exploit this protection with the intention of shielding themselves from potential termination of employment.
An employer is generally barred from issuing a notice of termination under the following circumstances:
- When an employee is temporarily unable to work (unless intentionally caused by or under the influence of drugs);
- During the employee’s military exercises or service;
- When the employee is on extended full leave to hold a public office;
- If the employee is pregnant or on maternity, paternity, or parental leave;
- When the employee provides care to another person as specified by a special law; and
- Throughout the period wherein a night worker is declared temporarily incapable of night work.
However, there are several comprehensive exceptions to this ban. Therefore, consulting with Czech legal advisors is advisable.
Should an employee receive notice during a protection period, the notice is deemed void. Importantly, the decisive factor is not the issuance date but the date on which the notice is properly served to the employee. Regrettably, there are instances where an employee, having just received a notice, promptly consults their physician and obtains a sick leave certificate on the same day. However, the case law of the Czech courts implies that even in such a case, the notice will be void as the law does not consider the precise time of the certificate of issuance; only the date holds significance. In such circumstances, the employer is compelled to wait until the employee exits the protection period, signifying their ability to work again according to medical evaluation, before serving a new notice.
It is important to highlight that the ban on notice of termination described above solely pertains to unilateral actions by the employer. Consequently, negotiating and concluding a termination agreement with the employee remains an option.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-House Counsel
- The Czech Labour Code restricts termination notices during the so-called protection period.
- The protection period covers employees when e.g., pregnant, sick or on maternity/parental leave.
- If an employee receives a termination notice during the protection period, it is void.