Not 24 hours at a time, contractual holidays. Employers have faced tremendous changes since the 1990s

The Ministry of Labor will be very tough on employers. The Labor Code has undergone many changes since the 1990s, and at some points it goes beyond what European directives require the Czech Republic to do. Employers will thus experience additional complications and costs, while employees, on the other hand, will have to gain more certainty – but according to some experts and entrepreneurs, the consequences of the new rules may be transferred to them as well.

Although the Labor Code amendment was passed by the House of Representatives and withdrawn by the Senate, Labor Minister and People’s Party leader Marion Jureka did not allow further changes. He argues about the transposition of European directives in the Czech legal system, which the Czech Republic already had time after the previous government of Andrzej Babis (ANO). Since September, the Czech Republic has been threatened with higher fines.

However, this does not reassure employers or sectors expected to be hit hard by the changes. The Chamber of Commerce provides public space through surveys, for example, where companies announce the cancellation of employment contracts for work performance contracts or indicate that flexible working hours should be more attractive in the future. For example, there has long been talk of increasing the threshold for insurance contracts that do not need to be deducted from income. However, the government is leaving it in practice for now, only those who share their work between multiple employers will be taxed more. And they will have additional costs and administration, which, according to experts, will especially affect small entrepreneurs, followed by students, mothers on maternity leave or pensioners (we wrote more about this).

Experts and finally the Ministry of Labor have long been talking about the desirability of encouraging employees to extend their working lives due to the demographic curve and the expected significant increase in the senior population. However, according to the Chamber of Commerce, this amendment goes in the opposite direction. For more flexible working hours, it introduces, for example, stricter work scheduling, the right to holiday or the right to additional pay for weekends and holidays. New records and notification obligations must be created. “If the adjustment of contracts planned in the Labor Code amendment and the draft consolidation package is not too restrictive and burdensome for employers, it will help the widespread employment of seniors,” pointed out the Chamber’s vice-president Tomas Brusa. At the same time, three-quarters of companies employ people of retirement age, according to the chamber’s survey.

The amendment is expected to put an end to the practice, which is common in, for example, hospitals with reduced staffing. That is, stacking shifts, either through overtime or multiple contracts, can lead to continuous work for more than 24 hours. The current regulation mandates a mandatory rest interval between shifts, making it relatively easy to pass. But, simply put, the New Testament is supposed to follow the essence. Rest is not ordered between shifts, but within a day, i.e. a 24-hour cycle starting at the beginning of the working day.

“This 24-hour cycle should be reduced to a scheduled shift, possible overtime work, on-call work and at least 11 hours of continuous daily rest, at least 8 hours. Also, it is proposed to specify the regulation so that the employer has the obligation to provide this daily rest, but planning (Table ) not only,” explanatory statement to state the meaning.

Rather, it aims to return to labor law an instrument strongly rejected by medical unions or the Czech Medical Chamber. Due to the shortage of workers in the health sector, the government wants to implement what is known as “voluntary” overtime in addition to the 150 hours of overtime that employers can apply for annually. But according to representatives of the field, on the contrary, it may encourage even more young people to study. Doctors are already working overtime, according to the chamber. While the code offers a 35-hour work week, the average shift length is already 26 hours and doctors work an average of 77 hours per week, according to the chamber. 97 percent of hospitals violate the existing legal norms of overtime provided by the labor law.

“Many doctors disagree with this ‘volunteer’ claim. Often, doctors, especially junior colleagues, do this ‘consensual’ work only because of pressure from hospital management, pressure from superiors or senior colleagues, or out of frustration that it will be theirs if they refuse to work longer hours. .It is colleagues or patients who bear its burden, and there is no one to treat them. However, this approach is completely wrong. On the other hand, limiting the maximum overtime work for doctors helps to protect the safety of patients,” Czech Medical Chamber President Milan Kubek appealed to MPs.

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In addition to the transposition of European directives, the revision of the Labor Code, for example, introduces the legislative anchor of remote work, i.e. the so-called home office. And anchor some changes in communication between employers and employees. The legislative anchoring of the home office, which has already been talked about during the Covid pandemic, comes at a time when companies and employees are already getting used to this flexible working system, or rather, retreating from it. The first proposed rules provoked strong opposition from companies and were eventually relaxed by the government, but some experts warn that, on the contrary, this may mean other difficulties: the law will be practically unnecessary in some cases. In the future it will probably have to be clarified through cases, for example, job security.

The amendment is based on two EU directives – predictable working conditions and reconciliation of work and family. The Czech Republic should have transferred them to the legal system at the beginning of last August. Because of this, the European Commission imposed fines of 45 million crowns for each order in April, and the Czech Republic will realistically start paying from September for not adopting the amendment on time. Because of this, the Cabinet proposed effecting the relevant paragraphs of the amendment from September.

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