An extensive amendment to the Labor Code currently under discussion in the Czech Parliament is scheduled to become effective on July 1, 2017, although the effective date might be postponed due to certain delays in the legislative process.
The main aim of the amendment is to increase the flexibility of employment relationships and to provide employees with even greater protection than they currently enjoy. Major changes to be brought by the new regulation include, inter alia, the introduction of a new category of top level managerial employees; the requirement of employee consent for transfers to a type of work other than that agreed to in the employment contract; increased guarantees for employees who work based on agreements other than employment contracts (i.e., agreements based on work performance or activity); and a new method of calculating the length of annual leave.
Homeworking and Teleworking Regulations
One of the most frequently-discussed parts of the amendment is the change and clarification of the legal framework of so-called homeworking. Homeworking has become extremely popular in the Czech Republic in the past few years and it is mostly viewed as an advantage for employees as it allows them to successfully combine their professional and family lives.
The current Labor Code allows employees to work not only at the employer’s workplace but also at other places agreed to by the employer. It is also possible to combine work at the employer’s workplace on certain days with work at other places on other days. However, a more extensive regulation of homeworking and teleworking is missing; this deficiency is supposed to be remedied by the amendment (inspired by the 2002 European Framework Agreement on Telework), which will require employers to cover all costs directly incurred by employees for work outside the employers’ workplaces, such as costs of Internet connections or telephone bills. Such compensation, which can be paid as a monthly lump-sum, will in no case be part of employee’s wage or other remuneration for work. Further, employers will be obliged to provide, install, and maintain the equipment necessary to perform the work (unless employees use their own equipment), and to take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of data used and processed by employees for professional purposes. On the other hand, it will be the employee’s responsibility to comply with relevant legislation and company rules concerning data protection. Employees, even when working at home, will be obliged to comply with the employer’s occupational health and safety policies.
An employer will be obliged to ensure that employees who work outside the employer’s premises have the opportunity to meet other employees at the employer’s workplace. This rule is intended to protect the homeworking employees from social isolation and it should also guarantee that these employees have the same opportunity for career progression as employees working at the employer’s premises.
Employees working outside the employer’s workplace will be allowed to decide for themselves when they will work, provided that the work is performed properly and timely according to the employer’s instructions. However, in such cases employees will not be entitled to a premium for overtime work or to a compensatory wage for most personal obstacles to work.
As indicated above, the new regulations for homeworking launched a broad public discussion. Employers are afraid of an increase in administrative and financial burdens in connection with the proposed regulation of homeworking. There are some who suggest that the amendment may lead to a decrease in the number of employers who offer their employees the possibility to work from home. However, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic has pointed out that the current legal framework already indicates that dependent work is performed at the employer’s cost and liability. Thus, the proposed modifications will only state some of the current obligations of employers more explicitly, while maintaining the existing practice. In addition, the possibility of an individual agreement between an employer and its employees has been retained.
By Barbora Rovenska, Partner, and Tereza Suchankova, Junior Associate, Rovenska Partners
This Article was originally published in Issue 4.6 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.