2023 – A Year of Change for Czech Employers
The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has proposed two draft Bills that will introduce major changes to Czech employment law this year. Although the legislation is currently still in draft form, we recommend that employers start preparing for the changes ahead now, as the new rules will come into force shortly after the legislation has been passed.
The first draft Bill is a proposal for a new Whistleblowing Act. Its main purpose is to implement the EU Whistleblowing Directive, including introducing greater protection from possible retaliation for whistleblowers as well as new, more formal procedures for handling reported breaches. The most important new obligation that will be imposed on employers is to set up an internal reporting system for receiving and processing reports of unlawful conduct. Affected employers will also have to appoint a special officer responsible for receipt and investigation of such reports. The new legislation will cover all employers with at least 50 staff. It has already undergone its first parliamentary reading and should come into force at the start of the second month after being passed.
The second Bill proposes wider changes across multiple areas of Czech employment law which are not limited to larger employers. One of the aims of the new law is to implement the EU Directives on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions, and Work-life Balance. Key changes include:
Broadening an employer’s obligation to provide information to employees upon commencement of work. The new law will introduce a significant increase in the amount of information that employers are required to provide about their working arrangements, as well as extending the category of employee eligible to receive such information. Tighter deadlines for complying with these obligations will also be introduced.
New rights for “on-call” workers. In the Czech Republic these are individuals who work under agreements outside an employment relationship, typically students on work experience and part-time workers. On-call workers will be newly entitled to paid vacation time and premium payments for overtime work, night work and work at weekends and public holidays. They will also have a right to paid maternity, parental and sick leave under the same conditions as regular employees. Furthermore, employers will have to schedule on-call workers’ shifts more predictably, and restrictions will be placed on employers’ ability to freely terminate on-call workers.
Extending the existing right to request flexible working arrangements of certain groups of protected workers, such as pregnant women and employees caring for a child.
The long-awaited introduction of remote working into Czech labour law, something that has been missing so far. A written agreement on remote work containing multiple mandatory requirements, such as setting out health and safety requirements or the right of an employer to enter the employee’s workplace to investigate work injuries, will have to be concluded as a condition of employment. Remote or hybrid working employees will, amongst other things, be entitled to receive equipment and additional compensation, at minimum levels stipulated by a ministerial decree, from their employer. This will bring some new tax implications.
Finally, exchanging employment-related documentation in electronic form will be simplified. This is welcome news since the current regulation effectively prevents employers and employees from serving important documents electronically.
In terms of timings, the second draft Bill has yet to be passed by parliament, but once passed it will come into effect on the first day of the following month, so Czech employers might only get a short period of time in which to adapt. We would therefore recommend that employers make the necessary preparations for these changes sufficiently in advance, to include (i) updating on-boarding and contract-offer processes; (ii) reviewing terms for on-call staff; (iii) training line and HR managers in relation to the new rights for pregnant women and carers; and (iv) developing revised contract templates for remote workers.