Employment law has introduced some interesting changes for employers improving employees’ status towards employers in their employment relationships. These changes relate mainly to maintaining confidentiality on working conditions and implementing compulsory contributions to employees’ recreation. As of 1 January 2019, employers have a new obligation to notify their open positions to the competent Employment Office. In addition, salary allowances for employees working on bank holidays, Saturdays, Sundays or at night will be increased from May.
Non-disclosure and confidential character of working conditions
A key change, following employment trends in European countries, has occurred in relation to non-disclosure and maintaining confidentiality between the employee and his / her employer. The Labour Code amendment restricts the scope of protection under the employee's confidentiality obligation. As of 1 January 2019, employers may not oblige employees to maintain confidentiality about working conditions, including salary conditions and other conditions of employment.
Any employment contract provisions established by the employer against the abovementioned restriction, i.e., obliging employees to maintain confidentiality about working conditions, will be invalid under the law.
Contributions to employees' recreation and recreational vouchers
Further amendment of the Labour Code No. 347/2018 Coll. implements new tools for the support of domestic tourism. Despite objections expressed by the Slovak President, this amendment was approved in its original wording, effective as of 1 January 2019.
New tools to support domestic tourism include contributions to employees' recreation provided by the employer and recreational vouchers.
Employers with 50 employees or more are obliged to make recreation contributions, while contributions remains voluntary for all other employers. An employee is entitled to receive a contribution if his employment relationship exists for at least 24 months consecutively. Upon the request of such an employee, the employer is obliged to compensate 55% of his / her eligible expenses, up to the amount of EUR 275 per calendar year. This maximum amount applies only to employees working on appointed weekly working time (so-called "full-time"), while the amount is adjusted accordingly for a shorter working time.
In order to support domestic Slovak tourism, eligible expenses will be considered provable expenses of the employee for services of domestic tourism or other services related to recreation in Slovakia, including at least two nights' accommodation. This may also include other services specified in more detail in the Labour Code. In practice, however, some problems may arise as the term "tourism services" is not defined.
Employers are obliged to contribute not only to the employee's recreation, but also that of the employee's family members (e.g. camps for children), as well as other persons living with the employee in a common household, specified by the Labour Code.
The form of a contribution remains at the employer's discretion, which may be a so-called recreational voucher or monetary – reimbursing accounting documents upon the employee's request and their submission by the employee on time. The employer can decide which form is more suitable, taking into account the costs and administration.
Recreational vouchers will only be issued by authorised entities, and employers will pay intermediary fees for purchasing them. Vouchers will operate similar to electronic meal cards, where it will be possible to "pay" with vouchers at service provider that are in a contractual relationship with the authority which issued these recreational vouchers. With recreational vouchers, employers will avoid administrative tasks related to checking eligible employee expenses. Vouchers will only be valid for a calendar year and issuance of vouchers for the next year may cause further costs for its provision.
In order to implement these contributions for employees, there has also been an amendment of the Income Tax Act. Employers who had been already providing similar contributions as voluntary employee benefits before the 1 January 2019, are recommended to consider potential tax implications. Moreover, it would be appropriate to review, or adjust the employer's internal policies regarding the provision of so-called benefits to employees, since these must be compliant with the new legislation.
Notification obligation related to open positions
As of 1 January, employers have a new obligation, under the Amendment of the Act on Employment Services they are obliged to notify their open positions to the competent Employment Office. An exception to this obligation applies to open positions, where the employer is obliged to notify through the information system of public administration operated by the Central Portal of Public Administration under the specific law, e.g. Act on State Services. Open positions are to be notified using a special form, which can be sent by mail, email on filled in online.
Increase of salary allowances for work on bank holidays, Saturdays, Sundays and at nights
As of 1 May 2019, there will be an increase in salary allowances for employees, already implemented by the amendment No. 63/2018 Coll., but this amendment has postponed effectiveness until May 2019. For work conducted on bank holidays employee will be entitled to their salary, plus a salary allowance in the amount of at least 100% of their average wage. Employees conducting work on Saturdays, Sundays or at nights will be entitled in addition to their wage to also receive a salary allowance in the amount of at least (counted as of the minimum wage per hour): 50% for work on Saturday, 100% for work on Sunday, 40% for work at nights, and 50% for employees conducting dangerous work at nights.