On 21 December 2022, Act LXXIV of 2022 amending certain employment-related laws was published, which includes, among other things, the amendment of Act I of 2012 on the Hungarian Labour Code (“Labour Code“) effective as of 1 January 2023.
The comprehensive revision is mainly due to the correct transposition of two EU directives, but a number of other provisions changes as well. Among the large number of changes, we briefly highlight the most important new rules.
1. Changes to employment documentation
1.1. Changes to the mandatory content of employment contracts
The following will no longer be a mandatory element of the employment contract:
- place of work,
- starting date of employment, and
- duration of employment.
Unless otherwise provided, these are governed by the Labour Code, but if the parties wish to derogate from the main rule of law, they may do so by agreement.
According to the law,
- the working time starts on the day following the execution of the employment contract,
- the working time is indefinite,
- the place of work is the usual place of work for the position.
Another new novelty is that, as a main rule, wages shall be paid by bank transfer, and parties can only derogate from this main rule by mutual agreement.
In the case of fixed-term employment, if the duration is maximum 12 months, the probationary period shall be pro-rated, and after termination, no probationary period may be imposed for a second employment in the same or similar position. Employers should therefore review the standard contracts they use to ensure that they contain the right content for the future.
1.2. The employer’s notification obligation
The notification obligation of the employer has been tightened: instead of the current 15-day deadline, the employer shall provide the necessary information in writing within 7 days from the starting date of the employment relationship, and in case of change, on the date of change.
In addition, employers will in future be obliged to provide information on their training policy and the name of the authority to which they pay employment-related taxes, currently the Hungarian Tax Authority.
1.3. Notification before secondments abroad
The legislation states that for secondments of more than 15 days, employees shall be informed of the rules and conditions governing the remuneration applicable in the place of work, the reimbursement of travel, subsistence and accommodation expenses, and the availability of the unified national website (i.e. the OMMF) containing relevant information on the rights and obligations of the employer providing cross-border services and the employees posted.
1.4. Certificates and declarations relating to new types of leave, exemptions
The amendment to the Labour Code contains a number of new rules regarding vacation, exemptions from work, prohibitions on dismissal, information requirements – as a result of which employers will need to assess the documentation to support entitlements – including parental leave, paternity leave, the duration of care for a relative, and the background documentation for termination without notice.
2. Exemption from availability and work – extension of cases
The Labour Code already contains a list of cases in which the employee is exempted from his/her obligation to be available and work.
According to the amendment workers are exempted from these obligations if they are caring for a relative who needs care for serious health reasons or personal care for a person living in the same household as the worker, but for a maximum of 5 days. During the period of care, the employee is not entitled to give notice.
3. Options for parents
3.1. Paternity leave and parental leave
The amount of leave for fathers will be increased from next year, to a unified 10 working days. Fathers whose children are born or adopted between 2 August and 31 December 2022 will also be entitled to the amended paternity leave until the end of February 2023. For the first 5 working days of paternity leave absence fee, while the for the second 5 working days 40% of the same absence fee shall be paid .
Parental leave has been introduced, which by its very name is granted to both parents. It is granted for 44 working days up to the age of 3 of the child, provided that the employee has been employed for at least one year by the employer. The rules for taking parental leave are the same as those for paternity leave, except that it may be taken up until 30 June 2023. For the period of the parental leave 10% of the absence allowance shall be paid for the whole period.
Both leaves are granted at the employee’s request and the requested date may be postponed by the employer in exceptional cases. However, if it the leave not been granted by the date of termination, there is no cash payment, but the employee may roll over its entitlement.
It is also a common rule that during the period of leave under these entitlements, the employer shall not terminate the employment by dismissal.
3.2. Possibility of amending employment contracts for parents with children
In addition to the current entitlement, a significant benefit is that an employee can apply until its child reaches 8 years for
- change of workplace,
- change to working hours,
- teleworking, or
- part-time employment.
The request shall be made in writing by the employee, stating the reasons, and the employer shall give written reasons for refusing the request within 15 days. The refusal of a request may be challenged in court, but the possibility of an extra-judicial hearing of these proceedings has been removed, so in practice it does not provide a real solution. However, employers are encouraged to keep transparent and accurate records of their labour needs in order to avoid disputes.
4.1. Abuse of rights
The rules on employment law claims based on abuse of rights are amended. The new legislation sets out how the burden of proof is shared between the parties.
The burden is on the claimant (the employee) to prove the facts, circumstances and prejudice on which the claim is based, while the burden is on the decision maker (the employer) to prove that there is no causal link among the above. The significance of the change is that if the employee’s claim of abuse of rights is acknowledged by the court, the employee is entitled to request the restoration of his employment relationship by the court.
4.2. Reasoning obligation
In exceptional cases, the employer is not obliged to give reasons for termination (e.g. in the case of termination during the probationary period). However, under the new rules, the employer is still obliged to give reasons, if the employee believes that the termination is due to one of the following reasons and requests the reasons for termination. The alleged reasons can be:
- working time allowance for care,
- paternity leave,
- parental leave,
- taking unpaid leave to care for a child, or
- the submission of applications under the previous point.
In the case of an employee’s request, the employer has 15 days to justify the termination. In practice, this means that the employer shall always be prepared to justify the reason for termination.
The above changes will typically come into force on 1 January 2023, applicable also to already existing employment relationships – although the legislator leaves a certain implementation period for businesses.
If you have any questions about the above, please contact us. Of course, we will also provide you with details of any further changes in the context of a personalised, partner-specific information session.