The Hungarian Parliament recently adopted Act LXVII of 2016, which amends parts of Act I of 2012 of the Labour Code (the "Labour Code"). Most of these changes came into force on 18 June 2016. The amendments changed and clarified certain rules on working time, pregnancy protection and posting of workers:
- Under the previous law, pregnant employees and employees participating in fertility treatment received dismissal protection provided that the employee notified the employer about these circumstances. This protection was made even broader in a 2014 Hungarian Constitutional Court decision that protected employees even if they did not notify the employer of the pregnancy or fertility treatment before the communication of the regular notice. In practice this meant that if the employee informed the employer that she was protected at the time the notice was communicated, the termination was automatically unfair irrespective of the reasons. It was, however, not clear how the employer could remedy the situation since the unfairness of the notice was not its fault. Based on the amendment, in such cases, the employer has 15 days to withdraw its regular notice in writing. If the notice is withdrawn, the employment will be continuous and the employer must reimburse the employee's lost salary for the period between the withdrawal of the notice and the expiry of the notice period.
- The amendment provides that if both parents are on unpaid leave for taking care of the child, then both parents are entitled to redundancy protection.
- In cases of senior manager-level employees, the amendment provides that parties cannot contract out from the rules regarding unpaid leave for taking care of a child. This it true despite the general rule that parties are free to contract away statutory rules in this type of contract.
- The amendment deleted the prohibition against allocating regular working time for on-call employees for the Saturday directly prior to a Sunday on which the employee had to work. At the same time, the amendment increased the daily resting time to 11 hours for on-call duty positions (used to be 8 hours). Furthermore, regarding all types of positions, when the daily resting time can be reduced to 8 hours (like in a continuous work order or multiple shifts), the total duration of the daily rest period over two consecutive days must reach 22 hours. This change will come into force on 1 January 2017.
- The amendment harmonised the Labour Code with EU Directive 2014/67/EU regarding cross-border postings. The changes provide that in the case of a cross-border posting, the entity receiving the services will be jointly and severally liable for unpaid salaries if it was aware/should have been aware that the posting entity failed to pay. Also, the posting employer will be required to keep the posted employees' employment contracts, working time registers and documents related to salary payments at the place of work during the posting and at the registered seat or premises of the posting employer for 3 years after in order for the authority to verify compliance. The employer posting employees abroad must also appoint a contact person to liaise with the competent authority and a contact person to liaise with local social partners at the place of the posting.