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The most important changes that the upcoming amendment to the Labour Code may bring

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Last September, we informed you about the upcoming amendment to the Labour Code. In particular, it should transpose the European directives on work-life balance for parents and on transparent and predictable working conditions, but also specify the conditions for teleworking and electronic delivery and signing.

There were a number of comments on the original draft amendment that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had to deal with. The draft amendment to the Labour Code, which has currently passed through the comment procedure, is now heading to the government for discussion.

When the amendment will take effect will depend on the course of the legislative process, but a split effect is already envisaged. It is expected that the amendment could, for the most part, be effective this autumn and selected passages from 1 January 2024. Below, you will find a brief summary of the most important changes introduced in this draft amendment to the Labour Code.

Proposed changes to teleworking

The broadly worded mandatory essentials of a telework agreement were abandoned during the comment procedure, leaving only the requirement that the agreement be made in written form, its content being left to the discretion of the employee and the employer.

In the case of telework ordered by the employer, the employer is not entitled to unilaterally determine the place of telework, according to the proposal. The employer will only be obliged to ask the employee to tell him what location he/she has chosen for the ordered telework, provided that such location is suitable for telework.

An employee may request telework. Under the original proposal, the employer was obliged to grant telework requests for employees caring for a child under the age of 9, pregnant employees or employees caring for dependants, unless serious operational reasons or the nature of the work prevented them from doing so. For this category of employees, the employer will now only be obliged to give reasons for refusing their request. In the case of other employees, the employer will not have to respond at all.

The original draft of the amendment also provided for the reimbursement of costs associated with working from home with a lump sum of CZK 2.80 per hour worked remotely. Such an option remains in the current draft amendment, provided, however, that the parties to the employment relationship agree on a lump sum reimbursement of costs or it is encoded in the employer’s internal regulations.

The employer’s obligation to cover the costs of telework is still valid, but unlike the original proposal, the lump sum reimbursement of costs is voluntary. In the event that it is not negotiated or determined by the employer, the employer will only reimburse the employee for costs that the employee has actually incurred and the actual amount of which has been proven to the employer.

Proposed changes to agreements and work outside an employment relationship

The previous version of the draft amendment to the Labour Code already presented a number of changes in the area of agreements to perform work and agreements to complete a job. This area has not eluded comments either, so the current version of the draft amendment has shortened the deadline for familiarising employees with the written working time schedule from the original seven days to three days. This shortening meets the needs of employers, for whom a 7-day period would be too restrictive.

Furthermore, as a result of the comment procedure, the weekly working time for the purposes of calculating leave for employees working on the basis of agreements to perform work or to complete a job has been changed, unifying working time for both types of agreements to 20 hours per week.

Other proposed changes

The current wording of the draft amendment to the Labour Code also extends the time limit, within which an employee must submit a request for parental leave from the original 14 to 30 days before taking parental leave.

Even the originally proposed deadline of 10 days, after the expiration of which the fiction of delivery occurs, did not withstand the comment procedure. According to the current wording of the proposal, a document delivered via an electronic communications network or service is deemed to have been delivered, if the employee does not acknowledge receipt of the document within 15 days from the date of delivery, on the last day of that period. The time limit has thus been extended in favour of the employee.

The employer will now be able to deliver a document electronically only if the employee agrees to this in a separate written declaration, where he will also state an electronic address for this purpose. Before the consent is granted, the employer is obliged to inform the employee in writing of the conditions for electronic delivery of the document, including the above-mentioned statutory time limit, after the expiration of which the fiction of delivery occurs.

It is therefore clear that the originally proposed text of the amendment underwent a number of changes during the comment procedure. However, it is not yet final and we need to wait and see, which version of the draft amendment to the Labour Code will eventually makes it through the entire legislative process.

Author: Veronika Odrobinová, Jessica Vaculíková