Slovakia: Labour Law Highlights in 2017

01.12.2017

Collective Bargaining and Strikes Redefined

The process of collective bargaining is being shaped by chances in society as well as by new technologies. Until recently, collective bargaining and strikes were conducted exclusively via negotiations behind closed doors and waving banners outside of factories. Today, social networks and media are also part of the battlefront. Collective bargaining is not anymore limited by the space of the conference room – its majority rather takes place on social Web sites, particularly on Facebook, and at press briefings. Hereby, the trade unions can attract attention of many more people than in the past.

The employers must learn how to react faster and more flexible on such a new communication form used by trade unions, whereas the trade unions are in a much easier position. They can make any statements as soon as these are not relevant in terms of the criminal law. Populism is the topic of the day for many trade unions.

Conclusions: The main question for the employers is how to set the media communication during strikes so that the negotiations are not prejudiced, intern details are not publicly disclosed and a certain cultural level can be maintained. This question is the main future challenge for the employers. After some time, the strike will come to its end and the employer wants to continue to work with the strikers.

Pitfalls of Employee Monitoring

Trust is good, control is better. This saying can be applied also when it comes to employment relationships. Employers aim to enforce their legitimate interests since they have the legal right to monitor their employees. The purpose of such right is to protect from illegal activities and to ensure protection of business secrets and smooth operation of the company.

However, the monitoring right and the employees’ privacy rights collide often. When exercising the monitoring right, the employers encounter the need for balancing of interests. Even courts have to tackle this issue. Just recently, the European Court of Justice revoked the original decision of the Fourth Chamber in case Bǎrbulescu v Romania and gave a ruling that the case does represent an infringement upon employees’ privacy rights and secrecy of correspondence rights. The respective ruling promotes labour rights and may directly affect the decision-making practice of Slovak courts.

Conclusions: If an employer aims to introduce and perform the employee monitoring, they are obliged to inform the employees concerned about the monitoring procedure, its scope and duration. All additional requirements, such as prohibition wording, introduction of transparent guidelines, consistent implementation policies, awareness among employees, and rigorous compliance with the data privacy require specific business- and case-oriented expertise.