Directive of the Hungarian Ministry for National Economy on the annual supervisory activities of the occupational health and safety authority and the inspection plan for 2017.
I. Scope of the inspections
In the last few days the Hungarian Ministry for National Economy has published its Directive on the official supervisory activities of the Hungarian occupational health and safety authority and the authority’s annual inspection plan for 2017 serving to examine compliance with occupational health and safety and other labour regulations. The directive defines the key areas that will have priority in the authority’s annual supervisory activities and the major activities, trades and sectors to be focused on by the authority in 2017.
According to the directive, dangerous work places and jobs involving dangerous technological processes will be subject to intense scrutiny in 2017 regarding the fulfilment of occupational health and safety requirements. The building industry, agriculture, processing industry, mining industry and health sector will in particular be closely inspected by the authority. Other unspecified workplaces with dangerous activities are also expected to be subjected to special inspections by the authority.
In addition to the sectors with dangerous workplaces, construction and commercial activities will also be the subject of special scrutiny in 2017 with respect to compliance with occupational health and safety requirements.
Monitoring the employment of workers with some degree of incapacity also has top priority in 2017, which includes inspecting the employees’ working conditions to check whether occupational safety rules are being observed and also in order to determine whether employees’ special needs have been duly taken into account by the design of the workplace.
The scheduled time of the inspections of business in the construction sector is the second quarter of 2017, regarding workers with some degree of incapacity the third and fourth calendar quarters of 2017 and for commercial activities the fourth quarter of 2017.
The directive also emphasises that in the event of failure to comply with occupational health and safety or other labour requirements, the obligatory training for employees will also be the subject of specific supervision by the authority.
Where compliance with Hungarian labour law regulations is concerned, supervisory activities will focus on the following three key areas:
- where employment relationships are terminated, issuing of statements and certificates and the payment of wages and other remuneration by the employer, as prescribed by relevant legislation (the scheduled time of the inspection is April-May 2017);
- compliance with the relevant legislation regarding the employment of workers especially in “simplified” employment relationships (the scheduled time of the inspection is June-July of 2017);
- employment relationships involving the employers engaged in personal and asset security activities (the scheduled time of the inspection is October-November 2017).
In addition to the above, the authority’s investigation will also focus on compliance with the rules on employment contracts, notification of the relevant authorities about the employment relationship and the conditions implemented regarding remuneration of work, working time, rest periods and holidays.
II. Preparing for the inspections
Preparing for the investigations is strongly recommended, in particular since the inspections are carried out without prior announcement, at the authority’s own initiative. Preparatory measures for a possible inspection are of great importance, especially in the light of the fines that might be imposed by the authority (work safety fines amounting from HUF 50,000 to 10,000,000 and other labour fines amounting from HUF 30,000 to 10,000,000).
The most effective measures to prepare for an inspection by the authority are the following:
1. Conducting a labour law audit involving legal experts
During such a legal audit the labour practices applied and the employer’s documents are examined by the commissioned legal expert to establish their compliance with the relevant legal rules. The legal expert also provides the employers with suitable recommendations to eliminate any non-compliance discovered in order to be fully compliant with the relevant rules. The subjects set out below can be important topics for such a self-audit:
- employment contracts used and informational obligations of the employer;
- fulfilment of the obligation to report the employment relationship and its termination;
- requirements regarding the employment of women, young workers and employees with some degree of incapacity;
- conditions regarding working hours and rest periods;
- conditions of collective agreements;
- obligations upon termination of the employment relationship.
2. Training employees
One of the most effective ways to prevent any infringements of the rules is to continuously educate employees by commissioning a legal expert to carrying out suitable training seminars. It is advisable to organise complex training for the employees that covers all the areas inspected by the authorities, therefore including regulations on occupational health and safety requirements and industry-specific compliance rules and also to specially prepare employees for possible dawn raids by the authority.
3. Preparing and implementing internal regulations
In the event of an inspection, the employer’s internal regulations for the relevant area are also subject to examination by the authority. Since the employer’s liability is fundamentally objective and it is the employer’s obligation to implement occupational safety and occupational health requirements, it is extremely difficult for the employer to escape liability where any damage arises. By using adequate internal regulations the employer can prove that it has taken all relevant measures to prevent the damage because the employees’ obligations in connection with the prevention of any damage have been defined in the relevant internal regulation, and that the damage was therefore caused solely by the employee’s conduct as a result of breaching internal regulations.