Amendment to the Slovak Act on collective bargaining under scrutiny

The Slovak Ministry of Labour Social Affairs and Family submitted an amendment to the Act on Collective Bargaining, which removed the requirement for an employer to consent to the extension of a higher grade collective bargaining agreement (industry level agreement). The issue of the extension of industry level agreements – making them binding on companies that operate in the same industry but do not belong to an employers’ association and therefore would not otherwise be covered – has been politically controversial in Slovakia. Previously, industry level agreements could only be extended if employers agreed. The Amendment shall not apply to employers with less than 20 employees who have been operating for less than 24 months.

Employers may only object to the extension of a higher level collective agreement by submitting a petition for exemption to be assessed by a committee comprising of persons representing the employer, its employees, the Ministry and the Slovak Statistical Office.

The Slovak Parliament approved the Amendment on 29 October 2013 and it was due to come into force on 1 January 2014. However, due to substantial criticism from employers, the President vetoed the Amendment and submitted it back to Parliament. The President claimed that the exemption to the extension of a higher level collective agreement should have been granted to employers who employed fewer than 50 employees. On 27 November 2013, the Slovak Parliament rejected all of the President’s objections and reapproved the Amendment in its original form. The opposition members of the Slovak Parliament have declared that they would request that the Constitutional Court strike down the Amendment due to its violation of the Slovak Constitution.