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New emergency rules in labor law

2020. April 25.

In connection with the emergency situation related to the coronavirus epidemic, the Government has introduced some extraordinary labor law measures at first in Government Decree 47/2020 (III.18.). These provisions were supplemented and clarified by the Government by Government Decree 104/2020 (IV.10.) promulgated on 10 April 2020 as follows:
 
1.   Daily working time, daily / weekly rest period and weekly rest day
 
Government Decree 47/2020 stated that during an emergency the employer and the employee may deviate from the provisions of the Labor Code by agreement. This previous regulation did not contain any restrictions.
 
However, the most recent decree stipulates that the parties may not deviate - even in case of identical will - from the provisions of the Labor Code regarding daily working hours and daily / weekly rest periods or weekly rest days. In addition to that the collective bargaining provisions other than those contained in the Regulation are not applicable under the Regulation either.
 
2.   24 months working time frame
 
Under the general labor law rules, the working time limit could be a maximum of 4 months and, in some cases, a maximum of 6 months. During the emergency situation, it has so far been possible to apply a longer working time limit by agreement. However, the new regulation paves the way for the employer to unilaterally order a working time limit of up to 24 months.
 
This rule can also be applied to an already ordered working time frame, also unilaterally extended by the employer for a period of 24 months.
In addition, the regulation states that the termination of the emergency situation does not affect the ongoing working time frame, ie the working time limit of up to 24 months ordered during the emergency does not end with the termination of the emergency, but remains valid until its expiry.
 
A working time framework can be more advantageous for both employers and employees because, in the case of a working time frame, the employer can manage working time more flexibly. In the case of a working time frame, working time does not have to be divided equally for each day, but it is also possible for the employee not to work at all on certain days or, depending on the length of the working time, for several consecutive months, while on other days to work 12 hours a day.
 
In the case of a working time frame, a monthly-paid employee is entitled to the basic monthly salary and the hourly-paid employee, unless otherwise agreed, is entitled to a wage equal to the product of the number of working hours according to the general work schedule and the daily working hours, regardless of the indeed performed working hours. Accounts for performed working hours are settled at the end of the working time frame.
 
Due to the above wage payment rule, in the case of a working time frame, the employee can feel safe on the one hand, because he receives his salary even in the absence of current work, and his employment is maintained. On the other hand, the employer can take advantage of the flexibility inherent in the schedule of the working time frame to divide the working time so that there is no downtime or overtime.
 
In general, it is true that the longer the working time frame is, the greater is the flexibility inherent in it.
 
3.   Wage subsidy for part-time employees
 
The conditions of the part-time wage subsidy were also announced in Government Decree 105/2020 (IV.10.). For reasons of length, these are described in a separate summary. However, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that one of the conditions of the part-time wage subsidy is the exploitation of working time opportunities, e.g. according to our interpretation, the application of the working time frame.
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