Co-authored by Barbara Timková of Wolf Theiss
A proposed new amendment to the Czech labor code is uncertain following the outcome of the general election in the Czech Republic in late 2017. The proposed amendment was mainly focused on (1) introducing obligations applicable to telecommuting workers and (2) introducing a new category of "top manager," consisting of individuals who would be partially exempt from working time limits.
The Czech labor code currently lacks any substantial regulations on home workers, despite the increasing popularity of such working arrangements. Such an amendment has been in consideration by the Czech government since 2016. The aim is to set protection for telecommuting workers. However, critics are concerned that increasing the administrative burden on employers will reduce their willingness to allow people to work from home.
The proposals include an obligation on the employer to reimburse costs—such as telephone and Internet costs that employees incur during the performance of work—subject to satisfactory proof of the expense. Employers may instead pay a flat-rate sum estimated to cover these costs if the employee agrees. Employers are required to pay these costs in addition to the employee's salary. Moreover, employers must insure technical equipment that it provides to the employee.
In order to prevent "social isolation," one amendment proposes permitting employees who work from home to request regular personal meetings with other employees at the workplace. Additionally, the amendment entitles employees to participate in teambuilding and other similar events the employer organizes.
The amendments also propose creation of a new category of employee called "top manager." This category would encompass employees earning more that CZK 75,000 (approx. USD 3,700: GBP 2,600: EUR 3,000) per month and who are under the direct authority of the managing body of an employer. The creation of this category would reflect the fact that high-level managers typically work more than 40 hours per week and schedule their work according to their needs, which can conflict with Czech restrictions on working time. According to the proposed change, top managers will be able to schedule their work freely to a maximum of 48 hours per week and will be able to work on bank holidays and weekends. They will also be exempt from the statutory maximum length of daily shifts. However, these exemptions will apply only those qualifying managers who consent. That is, employers would be prohibited from forcing the change on their top managers.
Unfortunately, the legislative process has taken longer than expected. Supporters still hope the changes will be implemented swiftly, although the timeline remains uncertain.
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