In line with the economic environment and provisions of Act I of 2012 of the Hungarian Labour Code, Act XCIII of 1993 on Labour Safety changed the regulation on electing representatives for occupational safety.
The new regulation became effective as of 8 July 2016, however, a six-month grace period was granted for the implementation, and this period expires shortly, on 8 January 2017.
The main change widens the circle of those employers where a workers’ representative for occupational safety must be elected: the limit of employees has decreased from 50 to 20, meaning that after the effective date of the legislative change, all employers employing at least 20 employees must have a workers’ representative for occupational safety elected.
Employees have the right to elect a representative – or representatives – from among themselves to represent their rights and interests related to occupational health and safety, while the employers are responsible for the provision of the conditions for the election, for conducting the election itself and for consulting the elected representative(s) for occupational safety in connection with all measures concerning occupational health and safety, prior to the implementation of such measures by the employer.
The election of a representative for occupational safety may be initiated by the labour safety committee or, where there is a lack of such committee, by the other representatives for occupational safety if there are some. Should there be no representatives for occupational safety, the election may be initiated by the local branch of the trade union, the shop steward or by the majority of workers.
In the case of lack of initiative from the employees’ side, the employer is obliged to inform the employees about the regulations concerning the election of representatives for occupational safety.
Employees nominated as representative for occupational safety shall have legal capacity, and:
- shall have been employed by the employer – except for newly incorporated employers – for a period of at least six months
- shall have been employed for definite or indefinite period of time
- shall work at the given fixed establishment of the employer.
At the same time, an employee may not be elected to be representative for occupational safety, if that employee:
- is exercising employer’s right
- is a relative of an executive officer of the employer
- is a member of the election committee
- carries out occupational safety functions on the employer’s behalf as his/her principal activity, on the basis of their employment contract.
Should there be no elected representative for occupational safety by 8 January 2017, the Hungarian authorities may impose a fine on the employer. The amount of the fine may fall within the range of HUF 50,000 (fifty-thousand Hungarian forints) and HUF 10,000,000 (ten million Hungarian forints).