While working towards the harmonisation of law in the EU, the Hungarian government also proposed an amendment to the Labor Code that makes it easier for employers to lay off workers with a newly-acquired disability.
The main purpose of the new amendments is for the Labor Code to comply with the EU guidelines. Some of the motions, however, have nothing to do with the Work-Life Balance Directive while some of the related articles will have a rather negative effect on the workers – writes telex.hu
One of the severely criticised amendments concern workers with medical incapacity. According to the current law in practice, employees who are no longer able to perform their duties due to disability are either assigned new tasks or are discharged with severance pay. If the motions are passed, employees could remain technically employed while on unpaid leave. This will not leave much choice for the workers but to resign without getting severance pay.
Another crucial part of the alterations of the law concerns paid paternity leave. The EU Work-Life Balance Directive states that 10 days of paid paternity leave is the bare minimum that governments must provide, which is 5 days more than what fathers have the right to in Hungary. The compensation rate equals to the rate of sick leaves, which is 70 percent in Hungary. However, the government decided that they would pay 100 percent in the first 5 days, but only 40 percent in the remaining 5 days, resulting in an average of 70 percent. According to MASZSZ (Hungarian Trade Union Confederation), the goal of the government is to dissuade fathers from taking the second half of their paid leave. MASZSZ believes that paternity leave should cover a rate of 100 percent and it should be at least 15 days.
On a related note, the directive also states that parents of a child 8 years old or less have the right to four months of unpaid parental leave per year. However, the motion set by the government only talks about 44 days of parental leave, far off from the 60 work days that would make up the four months.
Workers will also have less freedom in choosing when they wish to have a day off. The 7 days that employees are entitled to choose can be overruled by the employer under „exceptionally important economic interest or when the operation is at direct risk”. What counts as such is not really well-defined, which might serve as a loophole for employers.
According to MASZSZ, the modifications about what counts as on-site work will add another layer of uncertainty that is harmful to workers: the term „normal place of work” is planned to be replaced by „normal place of work for the position”. It may happen that journeys will be included in the normal place of work for certain duties.
A deadline for schedule changes in collective labour agreements is also included in the amendments, and it is set to be 48 hours. However, MASZSZ reckons it is too short, reasoning that it restricts employers. Besides, it is not beneficial for the employees either since they have to accommodate changes in their schedule on extremely short notice.
Author: Gyula Szabó
Source: 24.hu, telex.hu, ec.europa.eu, szakszervezet.net