Act No 89/2012 Coll., promulgating the New Civil Code (NCC) which is scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2014, and which replaces the current Civil Code (Act No. 40/1964 Coll.) in force for the last fifty years, does in significant manner affect also employment relations.

Subsidiary application of the civil code to employment relations

Employment and the attendant rights and obligations of employees and their employers do continue to be mainly regulated by the Labour Code (Act No. 262/2006 Coll.), which has also relatively recently replaced the obsolete legislation. The NCC thus leaves the majority of regulation applicable to creation, changes into and termination of employment within the area of this special regulation. Civil Code, following the principle of subsidiarity, will therefore be applied to employment relations only in instances when the Labour Code does not expressly forbid such application or in instances when it does not contain appropriate regulation. The manner of application of generally applicable regulation contained in the civil code cannot however be contrary with the purpose of employment relations and their fundamental principles (which are defined in Section 1a of the Labour Code as: (a) special statutory protection of employees, (b) satisfactory and safe working conditions for the performance of work, (c) fair remuneration, (d) proper performance of the job by employees in line with legitimate interest of the employer, (e) equal treatment and prohibition of discrimination). Labour Code thus limits application of civil code in instances where such (i) would be contrary to contents and purpose of fundamental tenets of employment, (ii) would result in lower protection of employee, or (iii) would cause interference of third parties into the fundamental tenets of employment. Provisions related to consumer protection (Section 2401 of the NCC) will likewise not apply to the rights and applications of employee and employers.

Legal acts

The new regulation of legal acts contained in the NCC will however also apply to employment relations.  This general civil-code regulation will be, respectively is planned to be supplemented by a new labour-related principle interpreting any general exercise of legal acts within the concept of employment relations in manner ensuring that when a legal act may be interpreted in several ways, the interpretation that is most favourable to an employee will be applied. Similar express formulations will be also supplemented in connection with legal acts that require certain form directly in the Labour Code, where it will not be possible to seek their invalidity (due to their failure to adhere to that specific form) in those cases when they create or change fundamental employment relationship, where performance thereof already commenced (such as in case of a verbal employment contract). On the contrary, failure to observe the requirement that a withdrawal from or termination of employment (whether during trial period or by notice) is made in certain form (in writing) will be considered null and void. Such act will thus no longer be considered to establish a fiction that termination was terminated by agreement, as allowed by present regulation (Cf Section 69 and 70 of the Labour Code which states that should an employer invalidly terminate employment and employee fails to notify the employer that he/she insist on further employment (i.e. in effect contests termination), it shall be deemed that the employment will have been terminated by agreement, either by passage of time specified in such (even if invalid) termination notice or, if the invalid termination was effected during trial period or with immediate effect, on the date when such employment would have terminated by such act.

It should be noted that such nullity of legal act will be argued even in cases when an employee terminates employment with employer for instance by e-mail. According to the Czech law, electronic communication not certified by a qualified electronic signature does not meet requirements for acts made in writing; such (non-) terminated employment would therefore continue to exist.