New guidelines on comparable working and wage conditions of agency workers

On 2 March 2016, the State Labour Inspection Office issued new guidelines setting out the principles that should be applied when evaluating whether agency workers’ working and wage conditions are no worse than those of the user’s comparable permanent employees.

These guidelines represent the first official statement regarding the definition of “comparable employee” and “comparable working and wage conditions”. They were issued in order to ensure consistency during employment agency inspections performed by the Czech regional labour inspectorates.

The guidelines will also serve as a practical tool for employment agencies and users which are, according to the Czech Labour Code, jointly obliged to ensure that working and wage conditions of temporary agency workers are not worse than conditions of users´ permanent comparable employees. If employment agencies and users fail to comply with this equal treatment requirement they may be penalized by the Czech labour inspectorates and affected workers are entitled to have the default remedied and claim compensation from the agency.

For this purpose, a comparable employee of the user is defined in the guidelines as an employee who:

  • performs the same type of work as an agency worker (i.e. same or comparable complexity, responsibility and difficulty of work which is performed under the same or comparable working conditions and which is of equal or comparable work efficiency and work results);
  • has the same or equivalent qualification for the work; and
  • has the same or equivalent length of professional experience.

The guidelines set out some basic general rules and also a list of specific examples of working and wage conditions of agency workers which must not be explicitly worse than conditions of users´ permanent comparable employees. They also set out a few examples of conditions that are exempted from this equal treatment requirement.

As a general rule, the working conditions of agency workers must not be worse than conditions of permanent comparable employees provided that:

  1. such conditions are regulated by the Czech employment laws (regardless of whether their provision is mandatory or not), and
  2. connected costs are tax-deductible employer’s expenses.

In the case of wage conditions, agency workers are generally entitled to the same basic wage and all other wage conditions which can be directly related to the performance of work.

Among working and wage conditions of agency workers which must not be worse than conditions of permanent employees the guidelines explicitly stipulate, among others:

  • work breaks
  • shorter working time
  • holiday entitlements
  • other relevant personal obstacles to work (including sick days or cafeteria benefits)
  • compensation for travel expenses
  • basic salary
  • bonuses
  • additional pay for overtime, night work or weekend work

On the other hand, the following examples are given of benefits where equality need not be secured:

  • meal contributions (provided they are above limits for tax-deductibility)
  • life and work anniversary allowances/bonuses
  • financial contributions from social funds/employer profits
  • contributions to life and pension insurance, transport or accommodation