On August 23, 2013 a long-awaited amendment of Labor Code Act and the Trade Unions Act entered into force. It introduces, among other things, variable working hours and enables the extension of the settlement period to up to 12 months.

12-month settlement period

The new law allows extending settlement periods up to 12 months in any work time system if justified by objective or technical reasons or reasons concerning the organization of work. Any such extension must be made with due regard to employees’ general health and safety protection principles. The amendment, however, does not specify the manner in which the said principles should be taken into account when changing the settlement period.

The extension of a settlement period should be determined in a collective labor agreement or arrangement with the trade union(s) operating at the company or employees’ representatives if there is no trade union there. The employer shall be required to provide a copy of the arrangement concerning the extension of the settlement period to a relevant labor inspector within five days from the date of its execution.

The extension of the settlement period shall allow an employer to manage employees’ work time in a more flexible and reasonable manner, especially if it is connected to a balanced system of working time. Thanks to this solution and the optimum adjustment of employees’ time schedules to their workloads, employers will be able to reduce costs related to overtime work.

Variable working hours

According to the amendment an employee’s work time schedule may provide for:

  • varied work start times on scheduled work days;
  • an optional time range for an employee to decide when to start work on a given day.

With variable working hours, the work performed within the same 24-hour work cycle will not constitute overtime. It will be necessary, however, to take into account an employee’s right to rest when determining variable working hours.

Variable working hours are introduced in the same manner as the settlement period extended up to 12 months. Variable working hours may be additionally applied at the written request of an employee.

Guaranteed minimum pay

The amendment provides that if in a given month worked according to an agreed work time schedule, an employee will not be required to perform work, he/she will be entitled to remuneration not lower than the minimum remuneration for work.

Work time schedule

The Act sets the manner and scope of drawing up a work time schedule for an employee. Pursuant to the amendment, the work time schedule can be drawn up in writing or electronically, and does not have to cover the entire settlement period. The work time schedule, however, should cover at least 1 month. An employer should acquaint an employee with the work time schedule to be set at least one week before its commencement. In some cases an employer will be relieved of the obligation to draw up a work time schedule (for instance if the work time schedule is determined by the labor code, notice or employment contract).

Making up for days off without overtime

The amendment expressly excludes the right to calculate overtime if an employee makes up for a day off granted upon his/her written request for personal reasons. Making up lost hours cannot infringe upon the employee’s right to rest as guaranteed by law.

Irregular work hours

Upon enactment of the amendment, the system of interrupted working time can be introduced not only in collective labor agreements but also by arrangement with trade unions or employees’ representatives if no trade union operates at the company. If it is impossible to agree the arrangement with all trade unions operating at the company, it will be possible for the employer to agree on interrupted working time with representative organizations only