Based on recent surveys among employers, empathy, compromising skills and flexibility are the main advantages of hiring female employees, while pregnancy and child-related parental leave cause the vast majority of labour issues in Hungary. Since expectant female workers and mothers enjoy special protection under the Hungarian Labour Code we sum up the must-knows for employers in this domain.
Employing a pregnant woman
From the time of announcement of pregnancy to employer, the expectant employee is entitled to "extra" protection under labour law.
At first, the employer has to allow her to go the mandatory medical examinations.
In case that a medical opinion confirms that the employee is unable to work in her original position (eg. the work is dangerous for the unborn child), the employer must offer another position, or discharge the employee from work duty if there is no appropriate position.
Furthermore, the employee cannot be ordered to work overtime or to work in another city without her consent during the pregnancy and from the childbirth until the child reaches the age of 3.
The employee is entitled to twenty-four weeks of maternity leave and after that a non-paid parental leave until her child reaches the age of three (3).
It is no doubt that the most important protection for pregnant women and mothers under Hungarian labour law is the prohibition of labour contract termination. Based on the Labour Code, the employer cannot terminate the employment relationship with ordinary notice during the pregnancy and the period of the maternity leave and even during the non-paid parental leave.
In practice that means that female workforce cannot be dismissed until the child reaches the age of three (3).
It is important to mention, that the employee is only entitled to the above protection if she announced the pregnancy to the employer.
The non-respect of the above prohibition makes the contract termination unlawful with serious financial impact for the employer.
Return to the workplace
The employee must go the maternity leave for at least two weeks, but after that she can return to the workplace. Although in Hungary, different from Western European countries, it is not a common practice to go back to work so early.
In Hungary mothers often stay at home until the child becomes three years old, although the number of employees going back to work earlier started to increase recently. In the latter case the employer must employ the employee after a 30 days grace period, and the prohibition of termination ceases to exist.
Also, in case of returning to the workplace, the female employee is entitled to work in a part-time job (daily 4 hours) until the child reaches the age of 3.
In case that after the expiration of maternity leave the employee does not go to parental leave and comes back to work, the employer can terminate the employment relationship but until the employee's child reaches the age of three (3), further protective measures apply.
The employee may be dismissed for reasons in connection with her behaviour only if she seriously breaches her obligations in connection with the employment relationship.
In case of the reason of the termination is in connection with the employee's ability or with the employer's operations, the employer must offer another position to the employee. In this situation the employer can only terminate the employment relationship if there is no other position fitting for the employee or the employee refuses the offer.
The non-respect of the above protective measures makes the termination unlawful which may have serious financial impact for the employer.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.