1. Obligation to create work regulations and remuneration regulations
As of 1 January 2017, the rules on introducing internal acts, that is, work regulations and remuneration regulations, have changed. Remuneration regulations constitute an internal legal act of the employer and set the rules on remuneration paid to employees, other benefits employees are entitled to, and the rules on granting them. Work regulations too are internal legal acts of employers whereby employers regulate the organisation and order in the work process, as well as related rights and obligations of an employer and employees.
Up until now, each employer employing at least 20 employees was obliged to introduce the abovementioned internal acts, unless covered by a supra-institutional or company collective labour agreement.
As of 1 January 2017, an employer is obliged to create work regulations or remuneration regulations after reaching the limit of employing 50 employees, unless the employer is covered by a supra-institutional or company collective labour agreement.
Where an employer employs 20 to 49 employees, and the trade unions active in the company request that work regulations or remuneration regulations are created, that employer is obliged to create such regulations.
Work and remuneration regulations created before 1 January 2017 at employers employing 20 to 49 employees, remain in force. Nevertheless, an employer is entitled to revoke the abovementioned regulations in a prescribed manner. According to the Interpretation of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy dated 4 January2017, there are no legal provisions that require keeping the above mentioned regulations in force, however, their revocation should be made according to the rules applicable to their adoption.
It means that where there are no trade unions operating at an employer, that employer is entitled to revoke the regulations unilaterally, and may inform employees of this fact, for example on a notice board or through the intranet. Two weeks after the date of informing employees, the regulations cease to have effect. In case, though, there are trade unions operating at an employer, that employer is obliged to consult the relevant trade union regarding its intention to revoke the regulations.
Notwithstanding the possibility to revoke work regulations or remuneration regulations, the previously regulated matters will not always cease to have effect. In case of the remuneration regulations, the provisions concerning for instance bonuses or benefits will become a part of the employment agreements. The existing remuneration rights of employees will not be effectively revoked. Therefore, revoking such provisions requires a notice changing the employment agreement.
For work regulations, all provisions cease to have effect. They will be replaced by generally applicable provisions.
2. Creating a company social benefits fund
Up until 31 December 2016, each employer employing at least 20 employees was obliged to create a company social benefits fund (hereinafter referred to as "the Fund"). Rules on abstaining from creating the Fund were strictly regulated in legal provisions.
As of 1 January 2017, only employers employing at least 50 employees (calculated as full-time equivalent) – as of 1January of the given year – are obliged to create the Fund. In the case where 20 to 49 employees are employed (calculated as full-time equivalent), an employer may create the Fund or pay holiday benefits. Previously, this rule concerned employers employing fewer than 20 employees.
However, when there are trade unions operating at an employer employing 20 to 49 employees, and the unions request that the Fund be created, that employer is obliged to create the Fund.
The entry into force of the new provisions does not result in the existing Fund being automatically dissolved. When an employer intends to abstain from creating the Fund, it is obliged to apply provisions concerning abstaining from creating the Fund.
3. Form of an agreement on financial responsibility
Joint financial responsibility is a special responsibility of several employees for any property entrusted to them jointly, with the obligation to give the property back to the employer, pay the employer back for the items (property) they were entrusted with, or to pay for same in the event that such property was lost etc. According to the previous provisions, property was entrusted jointly on the basis of an agreement on joint financial responsibility concluded in writing between employees and an employer.
Even though previously applicable provisions did not reserve any result for not concluding such agreement in written form, there was no doubt as to the fact that an agreement on joint financial responsibility should be made in writing.
According to the provisions applicable as of 1January 2017, an agreement on joint financial responsibility for the entrusted property must be made in writing under the pain of nullity. Therefore, the lack of a written form results in the nullity of the agreement and lack of responsibility on the side of employees.
The amendment introduced into the regulation constitutes the adjustment of the provision to the position established in case law and the doctrine of law.
According to the transitional provisions, the current wording of the regulations is applicable to the agreements on the joint financial responsibility concluded before 1 January 2017. It means that the assessment of validity of such agreements should be made on the basis of the stare decisis of the Supreme Court.
4. Rules on issuing work certificates
Termination of the employment agreement requires an employer to prepare and issue a work certificate to an employee. The obligation to issue a work certificate does not depend on previous settlement with the employer. Provisions applicable until 31 December 2016, imposed on an employer an obligation to issue a work certificate after 24 months of employment, on the basis of an employment agreement for a trial period or for a fixed period, even if the employee was still employed at the same employer on the basis of an employment agreement for a trial period or for a fixed period.
This regulation was criticised by employers as unnecessary and unjustifiable from the employee's point of view.
As of 1 January 2017 new provisions regulating the employers' obligations regarding issuing work certificates apply. The employer issues work certificates only after a definitive termination of the employment agreement with an employee. There is no obligation to issue a work certificate after 24 months if the employment relationship still lasts.
Moreover, an employer is not obliged to issue a work certificate if it intends to conclude another employment agreement with the same employee within 7 days from the termination of the previous employment agreement. An employer is under an obligation to issue work certificates concerning previous employment periods only upon a request of an employee. An employee can make the request at any time. The request may concern issuing a work certificate for the last employment period or all employment periods for which the employee has not received certificates, jointly. An employer is obliged to issue the work certificate within 7 days after the employee's request.
If an employer did not issue work certificates for employment periods that ended before 1 January 2017, that employer is obliged to issue the due work certificates within 6 months from the date the new provisions entered into force, i.e. until 30 June 2017, unless an employee makes a request to issue the certificate. In such case the employer should issue the work certificate within 7 days after the employee's request.
5. Appeal before the labour court
Pursuant to the Labour Code's provisions, an employer is obliged to include the instruction about the employee's right to appeal to the labour court in the termination of the employment agreement, regardless of whether it is made with or without notice. Such instruction must specify the deadline and name of the court to which the employee may appeal.
As of 1 January 2017, the deadlines for employees for bringing the appeal against the termination of the employment agreement made with or without notice, are unified and extended to 21 days.
The period of 21 days is calculated from the date the termination of the employment agreement is delivered to the employee, whether made with or without notice.
Every employer, while delivering the termination of the employment agreement (made with or without notice) to the employee, must remember to include a correct deadline for appeal in the instruction about the employee's right to appeal to the labour court.
Erroneous instruction does not result in ineffectiveness of the termination, but it does give the employee the right to restore the term for bringing the appeal against the termination of the employment agreement made with or without notice.