On 1 September 2011, major changes to the Labour Code come into force that will not only significantly strengthen the position for employers but could also pave the way for foreign businesses to enter the Slovak labour market.
The key changes include:
- the ability to agree under collective agreement probation periods of between 6 and 9 months in the employment contracts of senior employees under the direct managing supervision of a statutory body (or for between 3 and 6 months where the period is not extended under the collective agreement)
- the introduction of job-sharing allowing employees to schedule the duties and hours of a full-time position between them. This is to help employees looking after children or undertaking training or moving towards retirement
- new notice periods: one month for employees in employment for less than a year, two months for employment of more than one year and 3 months for employment between one and five years and if termination is given by the employer for organisational reasons
- the introduction of a ‘working hours account’, which can only be used by written agreement with employees’ representatives. This allows an employee’s weekly hours to be increased or reduced according to the employer’s needs. The employee continues to be paid for his contractual (rather than actual) hours and the employer keeps tally of the difference between hours paid and hours worked. On termination of employment, the employer has the right to claim reimbursement from the employee of pay for any unworked hours
- the introduction of a ‘flexi account’ –possible by negotiation and not requiring written agreement from employees’ representatives – which allows employers to give employees days off with pay when it is temporarily and objectively unable to offer them work and then, when it has more work available, make the employees do extra work with no extra pay to work the days off
- changes to severance pay: whenever an employee’s employment is terminated for a reason specified by law by mutual agreement, the employee has the right (before his notice period begins) to have his employment terminated by mutual agreement and receive a severance payment. This stops the employer having to pay salary during the notice period as well as a severance payment and allows the employee to choose which he wants to receive. Employers no longer have to negotiate in advance with employees’ representatives when they want to serve notice or terminate employment with immediate effect
- the ability to make employees subject to a non-competition clause for up to 12 months from termination of employment on payment of 50% of their average monthly earnings during the period. It is also possible to agree the amount payable by the employee if he breaches the obligation (on payment of which the competition ban would cease)
The amended Labour Code also contains a new basic holiday entitlement, which comes into effect on 1 January 2012.