Choice between meal vouchers and a financial contribution for meals
One of the most significant changes introduced by the amendment to the Labour Code is the possibility for an employee to choose between meal vouchers and a financial contribution for meals. This alternative is an addition to the three existing catering options (i.e. (1) own catering facility, (2) catering facility of another employer, and (3) meal vouchers).
The employee is bound by their selection for a period of 12 months from the date on which the selection is made. The details of the selection process and the implementation of the employer’s obligation to provide meals or a financial contribution for meals on the basis of the employees’ selection may be laid down by the employer in an internal regulation.
Entitlement to meals or a financial contribution for meals arises to employees who work for more than four hours per shift. If the working shift lasts more than 11 hours, the employer may provide the employee with additional meals or an additional financial contribution for meals. The amount of the financial contribution for meals shall constitute the amount which the employer contributes to the meals of other employees, but not less than 55% of the minimum value of the meal voucher. If the employer does not contribute to the meals of other employees, for example, due to not having other employees, the amount of the financial contribution for meals is at least 55% of the minimum value of the meal voucher and no more than 55% of the meal allowance provided for a business trip of 5 to 12 hours.
The employer may still provide the employees with a contribution for meals from the social fund. The financial contribution will be exempt from income tax, as well as social and health insurance contributions.
However, under transitional provisions, an employer who entered into a contract for the provision of meal vouchers with a legal entity or a natural person authorised to arrange catering services prior to 1 January 2022 is obliged to comply with the new legislation only after the end of said contract, but no later than on 1 January 2022. With effect from 1 January 2023, meal vouchers will be provided in electronic form in order to prepare both the companies and the employers for the introduction of the electronic form of meal vouchers.
Temporary assignment of employees
The amendment to the Labour Code also introduced a change in the assignment of employees between the controlling and controlled entity (parent company and subsidiary), whereby the assignment will not be subject to the condition of objective operational reasons on the part of the original employer or the 3-month duration of employment with the employee, after the expiry of which the assignment can be agreed upon, provided that such a temporary assignment is agreed free of charge. However, reimbursement of the costs of the employee’s wage, employer’s insurance contributions and other overhead costs related to the temporary assignment may be agreed upon between the employers, as well as in the event of a temporary assignment between employers who are not controlling and controlled entities.
Definition of an employee permanently caring for a child effective as of 1 January 2022
The Labour Code was amended to include a definition of an employee permanently caring for a child. The definition is important in determining the length of annual leave. The basic requirement is personally caring for a minor child entrusted under a court decision or one’s own minor child; this also includes alternative personal care.
This means, for example, that an employee is entitled to 5 weeks’ leave if they are personally caring for their own minor child, either alone or as part of the alternative personal care provided by both parents. In the case of a divorce, 5 weeks’ leave shall not be granted to an employee who is divorced and the court awarded custody of the child only to the other parent after the divorce. An employee who is cohabiting with a spouse/partner and the spouse’s/partner’s child and the child is neither the employee’s nor is the employee awarded custody of the child shall not be entitled to 5 weeks’ leave.
This role shall commence on the date on which the employee notifies the employer in writing that they are permanently caring for the child and shall cease on the date on which the employee ceases to permanently care for the child. This provision takes effect from 1 January 2022 in order to ensure that the calculation of leave is assessed over a full calendar year.
Domestic work and telework
The basic criterion for determining domestic work and telework is the regularity of performed work outside the employer’s workplace. Domestic work or telework refers to work that could be performed from the employer’s workplace but is instead performed from the employee’s household on a regular basis within the scope of the employee’s weekly working time or a part thereof. Home refers to the agreed place of work outside the employer’s workplace, which may be the place where the employee actually resides or a different place or places agreed upon with the employer. Domestic work or telework must be agreed upon in an employment agreement or in an addendum to the employment agreement.
The amendment to the Labour Code establishes the employees’ right to be offline, the principle of equal treatment of employees working from home and employees working at the employer’s workplace as well as the obligation to inform the employer in case of technical problems. The employer is obliged, inter alia, to provide the employee with compensation, under the conditions laid down in the collective agreement or employment agreement, for the employee’s demonstrable increased expenses associated with the use of the employee’s own tools, equipment, and items necessary for the performance of domestic work or telework.
Extension of the probationary period
Under the amendment to the Labour Code, the employee’s probationary period is extended by the time taken up by all-day obstacles to work on the side of the employee that arose during the probationary period. In the event the employee fails to complete the entire work shift, the probationary period is extended by one day.
New dismissal reason from the employer effective as of 1 January 2022
The employer is entitled to terminate the employment relationship even when the employee has reached the age of 65 years and has also reached the age eligible for a retirement allowance (both conditions have to be met concurrently).
More part-time opportunities for persons over the age of 15
With the permission of the Labour Inspectorate, employers will now also be able to employ persons over the age of 15 who have not yet completed compulsory schooling to perform light work. This measure provides opportunities for summer jobs to those who have completed their first year of secondary school.
Status of a secondary school student or a university student valid until 31 October
The amendment to the Labour Code also regulates the status of students. Under the amendment, the student status of secondary school students and university students will be valid until 31 October of the relevant calendar year in which they completed their studies. This measure introduces the possibility for students to work during the summer holidays on the basis of a student work agreement.
Dispute over the operation of a trade union with the employer
The operation of a trade union at a workplace is also to be amended. The employer is obliged to allow trade unions to operate at the workplace only if there are union members among the employees. Dispute over the operation of a trade union with the employer occurs when the employer or the trade union operating with the employer have doubts as to whether the trade union (which informed the employer in writing about their operation) has a presence among the employer’s employees.
Such a dispute shall be resolved by an arbitrator agreed upon by the employer and the trade union or appointed by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic. Both parties are obliged to provide the arbitrator with a list of employees or a list of members of the trade union who are employees of the relevant employer. The arbitrator must notify both parties of the outcome of the dispute within 30 days of the commencement of the dispute resolution.