New Labour Code to set out more liberal employer-employee relations

07-04-2004

Just a few weeks after an amendment to the labour code came into force in March, the Labour and Social Affairs Minister announced he was working on a new, more liberal version. Although the latest version was drafted to comply with EU legislation, the new labour code should be revolutionary in some ways.

Photo: European CommissionPhoto: European Commission The changes are in the very concept of the labour code - the current law stipulates precisely what is allowed in employer-employee relations, and everything else is prohibited. That means the two parties cannot agree on something that the law does not address. The new version should be the exact opposite. According to the Labour and Social Affairs minister Zdenek Skromach, the new labour code will define the limits and will leave the rest to be agreed on in collective bargaining between employers and the Trade Unions, something both parties have been calling for quite a long time.

The current law dates back to 1965, and since then, there have been 38 amendments. The basic framework has remained the same since the Communist era and the law no longer matches the needs of the present day labour market, experts say.

Employers and the Trade Unions alike have been pressing for greater liberalisation of labour relations. According to the labour minister, Mr. Skromach, the new law should continue to effectively protect employees at a similar level as it does now, while removing the major stumbling blocks.

Some of the changes in the new law include the length of annual holidays - the new labour code should guarantee a minimal length, and it will be up to the employer and employees to agree on more. It will also define the position of trade unions, their supervisory role and collective bargaining, and will also deal with labour safety and chaining of termed job contracts.

There appears to be a general consensus on the necessity of changes. Talks between the government, and representatives of employers and the Trade Unions are underway. The results should be known within two or three months, and the final version can be expected by the end of this year. In Parliament, the right-wing opposition have always criticised excessive regulation of employment as a brake on the economic development, so if the new law is a step towards more liberty in this area, it should be digestible for them, although they might press for yet less restriction.

07-04-2004