The draft amendment ↗ to the Labour Code, which is currently in the comment procedure, contains several fundamental changes that respond to European regulations (the so-called work-life balance directive ↗ and the directive ↗ on transparent and predictable working conditions). At the same time, the amendment opens up issues that have been troubling us in labour law for a long time:
- home office
- electronic delivery
What specific changes does the amendment bring? We have summarised the most important ones in this article. At the same time, we would like to point out that this is a proposal that still has a relatively long way to go through the legislative process. It is therefore possible that some of the rules will still undergo further changes.
However, it is already clear that this will be one of the most important amendments in 2023.
We have prepared a free one-hour webinar on the amendment, which will take place on 10 February 2023. You can register here ↗.
The dusk of DPP and DPČ
A topic that has been discussed since the beginning of this year - the convergence of agreements held outside the employment relationship with the employment relationship itself.
Under the current regulations, employees on agreements are not entitled to holiday pay, nor are they entitled to extra pay or the regulation on obstacles to work. It is possible to agree this in favour of the employee, but in practice this is not generally used. It was a flexible tool for employers to terminate relationships quickly, with looser rules on working hours, holidays and overall it was a very benevolent area. The amendment, however, tightens the rules for DPP/DPČs.
What does the amendment bring in the area of DPP and DPČ?
- Employees on DPP and DPČ will be entitled to leave, which will accrue automatically if the specified conditions are met:
- the employment relationship must be continuous for at least 4 weeks, and
- the employee must work at least four times his/her weekly working hours at the same time (the Labour Code will specify what will be considered weekly working hours for these purposes).
Workers will also incur additional entitlements directly under the law, namely:
- Entitlement to nursing allowance
- Entitlement to some extra payments (for night work, holidays...)
- Entitlement to impediments to work on the part of the employee (i.e. visiting a doctor, etc.)
In addition, the amendment also introduces other changes:
- The employer will be required to schedule the employee's weekly working time in writing, similar to that of salaried employees.
- The employee will be entitled to:
- require the employer to provide written justification for the termination of the contract;
- apply for a transfer to an employment relationship (if the legal relationship based on the agreements has lasted for at least 6 months in the previous 12 months), with the employer being obliged to provide a reasoned written reply.
- For DPČs, the compensation period is reduced to 26 weeks (from the current up to 52 weeks), with the proviso that only a collective agreement can extend this period up to 52 weeks
Employees are currently not entitled to have their employer let them work from home. This would change completely with the amendment, including increased protections for parents and other carers working from home.
Currently, the employer does not have to justify its decision not to allow home office, nor is it obliged to give priority to certain groups of employees (however, it is obliged to comply with the prohibition of discrimination and the obligation of equal treatment in relation to these "benefits").
A home office agreement can now be concluded verbally or combined with an internal regulation. There are also currently no rules governing the content of the home office agreement or the exact amount of compensation for related costs.
What does the amendment change in the area of home office?
Obligation to comply with home office requests for certain groups
Employees caring for children under the age of 15 and employees caring for persons dependent on the assistance of others (level II + III dependency) may apply for home office, provided that the employer is obliged to grant the application unless serious operational reasons or the nature of the work to be performed prevent this.
- These employees may then also request in writing that their original terms and conditions of employment be reinstated, with the employer again obliged to comply unless serious operational reasons prevent this.
- If the employer does not comply with such a request, the employer will be obliged to justify such refusal in writing
- If a home office agreement is concluded in these cases, it can only be terminated for serious operational reasons or if the home office nature of the work performed does not allow it.
Home office agreement
The home office agreement between the employer and the employee will have to be concluded in writing (a written amendment to an internal regulation is not sufficient). The home office agreement must include:
- regulation of OSH, including setting the conditions for inspection by the employer (e.g. under which circumstances the employer may enter the employee's residence or place of work, in particular for the purpose of inspection in connection with an accident at work)
- the location(s) from which the employees will work
- the method of communication between the employer and the employee
- the way work is allocated and controlled,
- method of reimbursement of costs,
- the period for which the home office agreement is concluded
- scope of work and distribution of working hours
More home office rules
- The employer will be obliged to reimburse the employee for the costs of working from home at the proposed rate of CZK 2.80 per hour (= hourly flat rate for gas, electricity, water, waste, etc.)
- these costs will not be part of the wages, salary or remuneration of the agreement.
- The amount will be adjusted annually by ministerial decree (similar to travel allowances).
- The employer will be required to ensure that the employee is not denied contact with other employees.
- The employer will be required to provide the hardware and software necessary for the employee to perform the work if the remote work is performed using electronic communications networks and software to protect data and data that are processed by remote transmission.
- The employee will have an obligation to act in such a way as to protect data and information related to the performance of work.
- The length of working time may not exceed 12 hours (unless the parties agree that the employee will schedule his/her own working time). Such an employee shall not be entitled to wage/salary compensation in the event of other important personal constraints, unless the implementing rules provide otherwise, nor to wage/salary or compensatory time off for overtime work or compensatory time off/pay for working on public holidays.
- The employee will be able to request the conclusion of a home office agreement with the understanding that if the employer does not comply, the employee will have to justify such refusal in writing.
- In special cases, the employer will be able to order the employee to work from home.
- Previously concluded home office agreements will have to be supplemented with new mandatory elements according to the new rules within 3 months after the amendment comes into force.
We are ready for the amendment and will be happy to modify your current home office agreements or prepare completely new ones for you. Contact us ↗.
Electronic delivery and information
The electronic conclusion of basic documents was not practicable at the time, especially in view of the strict rules for delivery (even of a draft employment contract). We also recently discussed the issue of electronic service in our podcast Právo v kostce ↗.
The new rules completely change this situation. In the current form of delivery, the employer is obliged to try to deliver at the workplace first, and if this is not possible, only then can he proceed to other methods. However, this procedure is being completely abandoned. The problematic aspect of confirming delivery (when communicating by e-mail) is also removed. The employer will thus be able to deliver electronically (by e-mail) even to those employees who do not themselves have a recognised electronic signature (or a data box).
What changes does the amendment bring in the area of electronicisation?
Conclusion of the employment contract/DPP/DPČ electronically
It will be possible to conclude contracts of employment/DPP/DPČ (+ their amendments) electronically, by agreement of both parties, with the possibility for the employee to withdraw within 7 days if work has not started.
Extended information obligation
The employer will have to inform the employee of his/her rights and obligations within 7 days of the start of the employment relationship. This information obligation is extended to include:
- information on the professional development of an employee in a specific position,
- the weekly working time and the expected weekly working time for DPP/DPČ and how it is to be distributed, including the extent of overtime,
- the conditions and duration of the probationary period,
- the procedure to be followed by the parties in the event of termination, including details of working hours and the procedure for invalid termination,
- details of the extent of minimum continuous daily and weekly rest periods, meal and rest breaks or reasonable rest and meal periods,
- details of the social security bodies to which the employer pays the employee's social security contributions,
- a new § 37a concerning the information of employees posted to the territory of another State,
- if the information is to be provided electronically, the employee must be able to save or print the information and the employer must document the transmission of the information.
It will also be possible to deliver other important documents electronically, e.g. a notice of termination - so it will not have to be delivered in person at the workplace in the first place if:
- The employer signs the document with a recognised electronic signature and sends it to the employee. The employee will no longer have to acknowledge receipt of the document within 3 days using his/her recognised electronic signature, as the document will be delivered after 10 days, even if the employee does not acknowledge receipt (fiction of delivery).
- Employees will be able to deliver electronically to their employer without the employer's consent (also fiction of delivery after 10 days of delivery)
However, for electronic service, the employee's written consent will be required and the employee will need to provide his or her own electronic address for service.
Taking parental leave
At present, there is no mandatory written form for requesting parental leave (although this is the standard practice). Nor is there a time limit within which the request should be made.
A written request for parental leave will now be required, stating the planned duration (start and end), usually at least 14 days before the start date.
The information contained in the request should then be binding on both parties, which should make it easier for the employer to plan for departures/replacements, although employees may make this request repeatedly (e.g. to extend their parental leave beyond one year).
The changes that await us are many. In case you want to prepare for them in advance, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form below.
Or take a look at the labour law ↗ services we offer.