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Extraordinary measures override the Labour Code

According to the regulation published in today's Hungarian Official Gazette, the new package of measures has overridden several labour law rules. Teleworking and working from home can be ordered independently of an employment contract, as the possibilities for derogation from the Labour Code are extended.

Temporary change in teleworking rules

In relation to working from home and remotely, the existing regulations have significantly changed. The imposition of teleworking is no longer linked to an amendment to the employment contract (which requires a bilateral agreement from the parties) and may be ordered unilaterally by the employer.
This also means that, if the employer orders teleworking, since there is no time limit in the case of teleworking, the restriction which applies when ordering employment other than employment contract does not have to be taken into account.
This does not mean that the employer would not continue to be bound e.g. by the 44-working day (three hundred and fifty-two hours) limit in the case of employment in a different job. It is therefore recommended that teleworking be ordered when time limit is an aspect in order to avoid future misunderstandings and keep precision. In case of ordering working from home, we find an interpretation conceivable which provides that time limit will continue to be applied since working from home does not necessarily coincide with teleworking.

Change in work schedule rules 

Another important change is that the work schedule can be modified differently from the rules described in the Labour Code. Until now, the general rule has provided that the work schedule had to be communicated in writing by the employer for at least one week, at least one hundred and sixty-eight hours prior to the start of the working hour of the first day on the schedule, with the modification possibility at least ninety-six hours prior to the start of the working hour of the first day on the schedule in case unforeseen circumstances have arisen in its management or operation. Nevertheless, under the current measure, the work schedule may even be changed overnight. Of course, this right cannot be exercised in an abusive manner in this case either, also the general rules of conduct remain applicable.

Data protection and health surveillance

The third point of the package of measures mainly concerns personal rights and personal data, when the regulation authorizes employers to take the necessary and justified measures in order to carry out the health surveillance of the employee. It should be emphasised here, too, although in this case the Regulation itself underlines that this applies solely to the necessary and justified measures being taken. Consequently, for example it is unlikely, though the existence of such an employer cannot be excluded, that a full medical history is required reasonably to detect the current epidemic. 

With regard to the points above, the employer is authorised to apply these possibilities in a limited period of time for 30 days following the cessation of the state of emergency. In addition to the current measures, the Regulation has tackled the relations regulated by collective agreements therefore, it prevails the provisions of collective agreements, also. 

The possibilities for derogation from the Labour Code are expanded

The most interesting point in the package may be not the three-point list of targeted measures itself but the paragraph 4 of the Regulation on Labour Law. It states that the employee and the employer may derogate from the provisions of the Labour Code in a separate agreement. This is important as until now, a derogation from the Labour Code was either explicitly permitted at the end of a particular chapter of the law or, as a general rule, was possible in the interests of the employee.

This current provision, in my opinion, means that the parties may on the basis of a bilateral agreement even derogate from the Labour Code to the detriment of the employee. Thus, for instance, there is the possibility of lowering wages below the minimum wage in order to keep jobs. More interestingly, the time limit subject to the cessation of the state of emergency cannot be applied to this paragraph due to the wording of the legislation.<

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