By Martina Čeligová, Firm: Nitschneider
Slovakia has introduced an entitlement to five weeks of paid holiday for employees who have not yet reached the age of 33 and who are also taking care of a child on a permanent basis, but who is entitled and in what circumstances is not entirely clear. This article sets out details and some of the unresolved issues.
Recently, some employees have been excited about the extension of their basic holiday entitlement to five weeks, which will apply from 1 January 2020. This change was brought by an amendment to the Labour Code, which was approved by the Slovak Parliament on 18 October 2019. Under the approved draft of the act, holiday for employees who are 33 years old or over at the end of the applicable calendar year and for employees under 33 who permanently take care of a child must be at least five weeks. In the opinion of the Member of Parliament who submitted the draft legislation, this change has a positive effect on marriage, parenthood, raising children and tourism.
However, the approved amendment of the Labour Code has also brought several negative reactions, especially among employers. In the employers’ opinion, the implementation of five weeks’ holiday will have a significant negative impact on the business environment. In addition, several employers have made a complaint that within the benefits system, employees are entitled to compensated absences above the statutory basic holiday entitlement. This is in addition to 15 days of Slovakian public holidays.
Regardless of the contradictory opinions of employees and employers, it is already clear that this amendment to the Labour Code will cause a number of problems in practice. Neither the Labour Code nor the approved amendment gives any further definition of what the term ‘permanent childcare’ means. Besides the missing legal definition, the approved amendment to the Labour Code does not regulate whether this change of holiday entitlement will also apply to employees who have a child in joint custody or to divorced employees whose child has been placed into the custody of the other parent by a court decision. There is also an unresolved question whether this entitlement to five weeks of holiday also applies to employees taking care of an adopted child or employees who work in the public sector. Are these employees entitled to five weeks' holiday?
The shortcomings of the approved amendment to the Labour Code described above already indicate that in practice there will be a number of problems where an employee will mistakenly believe that he or she is entitled to five weeks’ paid leave, where this may not in fact be the case.