The long-awaited draft amendment to Act No. 262/2006 Coll., Labour Code, as amended, and some other acts has been sent out for inter-ministerial comments. The amendment responds primarily to the alignment of Czech labour law with European directives, namely the Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers1 and the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union2. The amendment is expected to come into force on 1 January 2023, even though the deadline for incorporating the directives into Czech law was the beginning of August 2022.
In this article, we will discuss the adaptation of teleworking (work from home), which has become a widely used and expected standard of work in many companies over the past years in response to the pandemic. The amendment regulates how telework can be arranged and what the obligations of the employee and employer will be. It also expands the regulation of employee compensation. There are also special regulations governing telework for pregnant employees and persons caring for a child under 15 years of age.
Under the amendment, the performance of remote work, i.e. from a place other than the employer's workplace, will be possible only on the basis of a written agreement between the employee and the employer. The agreement must specify the location or locations, the method of communication, the assignment of work and its monitoring, the working time schedule, the method of compensation and the period for which the agreement is concluded, as well as the method of ensuring and checking occupational health and safety. Telework is terminated on the date agreed in the agreement or by giving 15 days' written notice without stating reasons. Neither the draft amendment nor the explanatory memorandum provides more detail on the individual elements. Many issues, particularly health and safety arrangements, the possibility for the employer to enter the remote place of work, working hours and work monitoring remain unanswered in detail and are likely to be modified and supplemented over time. We also draw attention to the tax implications if the employee teleworks from another country.
In addition, the amendment regulates the entitlement to compensation for costs related to the performance of telework, which were dealt with only very generally in the previous legislation, and in connection with the regulation of income taxation. In practice, employees had to prove the compensation of costs in a complicated way, or the compensation of costs was taxed as part of the employee's ordinary income. The amendment provides for a flat-rate reimbursement to the employee to cover the costs associated with teleworking such as electricity, gas, water and heat, for each hour of the employee's work. The flat-rate compensation will be regulated by a decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The calculation will be based on data from the Czech Statistical Office. In the proposed amendment, the amount of CZK 2.80 is set for each hour of work and, beyond the lump sum, the obligation to reimburse other demonstrable costs related to telework continues to apply. The lump sum reimbursement will be exempt income on the part of the employee and a tax-deductible expense for the employer.
Employees caring for a child under the age of 15, pregnant employees and employees caring for a person who is dependent on the help of another person for a long period of time have a special status when working remotely. The amendment obliges the employer to comply with a request for telework unless serious work-related reasons or the nature of the work to be performed prevent it. If the above group of employees requests the reinstatement of the original working conditions, the employer is again obliged to comply. If the employer does not comply with the request, the employer must give reasons for its refusal in writing.
1. European Parliament and Council (EU) 2019/1158 of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers.
2. Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.