What changes will the amendment to the Labour Code, expected to take effect from 1 November 2022, bring?

Written by Mgr. Simona Kubišová, Mgr. Peter Neštepný

On 4th October 2022, an amendment to the Labour Code was approved by the National Council of the Slovak Republic, and although it has not yet been signed by the President of the Slovak Republic and thus has not been published in the Collection of Laws, it is necessary to inform about it now, since the changes it introduces will have to be applied in practice as soon as the expected effective date of 01 November 2022.

The primary objective of this amendment to the Labour Code is to transpose two European directives to ensure transparent and predictable working conditions for employees (so that the employee knows the conditions under which he or she will work and when and to what extent he or she will work), while also supplementing and clarifying the provisions relating to work-life balance for parents and persons with caring responsibilities, e.g. The introduction of 'paternity leave' or the possibility for employees caring for children to request flexible forms of work and to move to other forms of employment.

The requirements for transparent and predictable working conditions will be reflected in most of the proposed changes, e.g:

I. by supplementing and amending selected provisions of the Labour Code relating to the content and essential (mandatory) elements of employees' employment contracts (the obligation to include in the employment contract the identification data of the contracting parties and the obligation to list all the employee's places of work, if there are more than one, or to establish the rule that the employee determines the place of work himself). After the amendment comes into force, the following elements of the employment contract will not include (but may be agreed in the contract): other terms and conditions of employment, i.e. pay periods, working hours, the amount of leave and the length of the notice period (in accordance with the current wording of Article 43(2) of the Labour Code); these will become part of the employer's newly introduced so-called information obligation described below.

II. the introduction of the employer's information obligation - specifying and extending the range of information which the employer is obliged to provide to employees within specified time limits and which employees have the right to receive in order to ensure the requirements of transparency and predictability of the work performed if this information is not contained in the employment contract:

  • the method of determining the place of work or the designation of the principal place of work where several places of work are agreed in the contract of employment,
  • the weekly working time laid down, the method and rules for the distribution of working time, including the expected working days and the compensation period pursuant to Sections 86, 87 and 87a, the extent and time of the provision of breaks from work, continuous daily rest and continuous weekly rest, and the rules for overtime work, including overtime remuneration,
  • the amount of leave or the method of determining it,
  • the payment of wages and the cost of wages, including pay periods,
  • the rules on termination of employment, the length of the notice period or the method of determining it if it is not known at the time the information is provided, the time limit for bringing an action for a declaration that the termination of employment is null and void,
  • the right to training provided by the employer, if any, and its scope.

If the employer has a collective agreement, the name of the agreement and the parties to it must also be indicated.

The employer is obliged to provide the above information in writing to the employee if it is not directly contained in the employment contract. The amendment also sets specific time limits (7 days or 4 weeks) within which the employer is obliged to do so.

The employer may also provide this information only by reference to the relevant provision of the Labour Code or collective agreement.

If there is a change in the terms and conditions of employment which are the subject of the information obligation referred to above, the employer shall be obliged to inform the employee without undue delay, but at the latest on the day on which the change takes effect; this does not apply if the change consists only in a change in the legal provision or collective agreement to which the written information refers. It follows from the above that, in order to reduce the administrative burden, it is advisable to use references to the legislation or collective agreement as far as possible.

In the case of employment contracts already concluded, it should be noted that, under the transitional provisions of the amendment, the addition of the information obligation will only be compulsory at the request of the employee, i.e. it will not be necessary to automatically inform all existing employees within one month from the date of the employee's request.

III. by providing for the form of provision of information to employees on working conditions also in electronic form (i.e. when the employer provides information to the employee, the electronic form will be admissible in addition to the paper form, provided that the employee has access to the electronic form of the information, can save and print it, and the employer retains proof of sending or receiving it). This applies equally to the employer's written reply if the employer is obliged to reply to the employee in writing.

IV. providing for the right of employees to request flexible forms of work in the case of carers (e.g. home office) and the right to request a transfer to another form of employment and the employer's obligation to provide a written response to employees. In the case of employees with fixed-term or part-time contracts, they will be entitled to request the employer to switch to permanent or fixed-week employment within specified time limits (after 6 or 12 months of employment), and the employer will be obliged to provide a reasoned written reply within one month of the date of the request (3 months for employers with fewer than 50 employees, and 3 months for employers with a repeated request, such employer may only respond orally if the justification has not changed)

V. the establishment of obligations relating to minimum predictability of work in agreements for work performed outside the employment relationship (i.e. the employer will be obliged to provide the employee when concluding a work performance agreement, a student temporary work agreement or a work activity agreement, with written information on the days and periods of time during which the employee may be required to perform the work and information on the period of time within which the employee is to be informed of the performance of the work prior to the commencement of the work, which period may not be less than 24 hours). At the same time, if the average weekly working time under the agreement for work performed outside the employment relationship exceeds three hours in four consecutive weeks, the employer will also be obliged to comply with certain parts of the information obligation referred to above in those weeks.

Other developments that we consider to be most interesting in terms of the practical issues that employers encounter on a daily basis:

I. A minimum collection period of 10 days has been set for employer delivery (previously this area was unregulated and the standard collection period of 18 days could also be reduced to any minimum permitted by postal conditions under the decision - however, questions have been raised as to whether this calls into question the validity of the delivery if there has been no acceptance of the parcel within such a shorter collection period).

II. The Labour Code explicitly provides that the duration of the employment relationship includes the duration of the previous employment relationship immediately followed by the duration of the employee's new employment relationship with the same employer.

III. In some cases - if the employment relationship is agreed for less than 6 months - the maximum possible length of the probationary period will be shortened: For an employee with a fixed-term employment relationship, the agreed probationary period may not be longer than half of the agreed duration of the employment relationship.

The proposed amendment to the Labour Code, as outlined in the introduction, also brings with it, among other things, the addition and clarification of provisions concerning the work-life balance of parents and persons with caring responsibilities, including in the form of the introduction of paternity leave, to which we will devote more attention in the next article.

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