There is only one Section in the Czech Labour Code (Act No. 262/2006 Coll., as amended, hereinafter the “LC”), that specifically regulates the issue of collective leave-taking (Sec 220 LC). As for the rest, general provisions of the LC about leave apply, where applicable.
Employers may determine the time for collective leave-taking solely at their own discretion only when there is no trade union organization or work council. Otherwise, an agreement with the trade union organization and a consent from the work council will be necessary prior to setting up vacation dates. The decision determining the dates for collective leave must be done in writing and may be taken only where it would be necessary for operational reasons. In other words, collective leave may not be imposed for other than operational reasons, as for example in cases of lack of raw material, lack of orders, equipment breakdown etc.
Collective leave may not last for more than two weeks (four weeks, where artistic ensembles are concerned); such limitation is stipulated by law especially in view of the fact that collective leave is advantageous from the employer´s point of view, however it does not take into account each employee´s individual needs and situation. When determining when collective leave is to be taken, the employer makes only one single decision on leave for all his employees or of only some groups of his/her employees (e.g., only specific operations of the employer may be concerned, etc.).
As indicated above, employers must observe also other general rules stipulated in the LC regarding leave, especially:
- Employers shall inform its employee in writing of the dates determined for leave at least 14 days in advance, unless there is a different agreement between the employer and employees;
- If employee is sent on leave on two or more occasions, at least one of those occasion shall be at least two weeks long, unless there is a different agreement between the employer and employees;
- Employee´s leave shall be, in principle, interrupted in case of obstacles to work listed in Sec 219 Para 1 LC (e.g. maternity or parental leave, employee´s temporary incapacity for work, attending to a sick family member, military exercise etc.).
When deciding to impose a collective leave, there may exist a situation where an employee had already taken all available leave to which he/she may be entitled for that calendar year. In those cases, employers have a legal duty to assign work to such employees in accordance with their employment contracts (cf. Sec 38 Para 1 Letter a) LC). If the employer has no such work and no agreement between the employee and the employer on amendment of the respective employment contract had been concluded, the employee cannot perform work due to obstacles to work on the part of his employer and will be entitled to compensatory wage in the amount of 100 % of average earnings (Sec 208 LC). It is because the said situation cannot be deemed to constitute obstacles to work on the part of the employee, and employers may not impose leave (day off work) taking without compensatory wage (which is in the Czech Republic informally called “unpaid leave”).
Should employers breach their obligations stipulated by law relating to leave (length of the leave, leave taking and determining its start), a fine up to CZK 200 000 (approx. € 7 500) may be imposed under relevant provisions of the Act No. 251/2005 Coll., on Labour Inspection, as amended.