With regard to the state of emergency the Hungarian Government has passed several employment related laws. According to Government Decree no. 47/2020, the provisions of the Labour Code shall be applied with several modifications during the term of state of emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The purpose of the modifications is to make the employment regulations more flexible and to enable the employers and employees to adapt to the challenges caused by the pandemic.
The most significant modification is that during the term of state of emergency, the employee and employer may deviate from the provisions of the Labour Code with mutual consent, even for the detriment of the employee. Other employment law provisions of the Government Decree shall be applied until 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency. According to the new provisions, the employers may unilaterally require the employees to perform work within the framework of ‘home office’ or ‘teleworking’. Another amendment relates to the working time schedule. Under the original provisions of the Labour Code, the employers had to notify the employees about the working time schedule one week in advance, and it was possible to modify it at least 96 hours before the commencement of the working day. According to the new provisions, the employer may modify the working time schedule without any restrictions. Furthermore, the Government Decree enables the employers to check the health conditions of the employees.
On 10 April 2020, in the framework of Economy Protection Action Plan, the Government published new decrees which also contain relevant employment provisions. According to Government Decree no. 104/2020, the employer may require the employee to perform work within the framework of a work time cycle (‘munkaidőkeret’ in Hungarian), the duration of which may be maximum 2 years. According to the original provisions of the Labour Code, the maximum length of the work time cycle could be 4 months (or 6 months in specific jobs) or 3 years under the provision of collective agreement. The main advantage of the work time cycle is that it allows the employer to schedule the working time irregularly within a longer period. Government Decree no. 105/2020 introduced the state-aided part-time employment scheme, under which if the employer undertakes not to terminate the employees’ employment relationship, but decides to employ them on a part time basis, the state will provide compensation for the employees for the loss of their salaries resulting from the reduced working hours.
By Levente Csengery, Partner, KCG Partners Law Firm