Hungary: Employer’s guide in the context of the coronavirus crisis
This guide helps you to see what options the employers might have in order to be able to handle the epidemic situation from employment point of view.
ONGOING EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIPS
1. Scenarios and consequences in the current epidemic situation:
- Working from home: Depending on the nature of the position of the employees a convenient solution could be to instruct employee(s) to work from home. Based on special law introduced for the term of the emergency situation due to the coronavirus the employees may order home office working unilaterally.
If working from home incurs reasonable costs for the employee, such costs are to be reimbursed by the employer. Home office shall be based on home office policy which shall include positions in which teleworking may be carried out, duration, conditions and usable devices of teleworking.
- Downtime: COVID-19 may cause a standstill in production or in providing of services, with the result that the employer will unable to comply with its main obligation, i.e. the obligation to employ. This period is qualified under Hungarian law as downtime (in Hungarian: állásidő). During this period the employees shall be entitled to their base salary and wage supplements, unless the standstill occurs due to unavoidable external reasons. Closure of the working place by the authorities or the absence of so many employees which makes operation of employer impossible might be deemed as such unavoidable external reason for the downtime of employees.
- Sick pay: Employees who actually have COVID-19 (as is the case with any other diseases) are entitled to sick pay (in Hungarian: táppénz), provided that a competent medical practitioner certifies that the employee has the illness.
- Healthy employees capable for work or employees with suspect of infection falling under the scope of epidemic measures: Such employees shall be deemed to be incapable for work and they are entitled to sick pay if they cannot be employed in another position or workplace.
- Ordering vacation time: Apart from the seven days per year that employees can take at their own discretion, employers schedule their employees’ vacation days. Therefore, an employer may decide to schedule vacation days up to the maximum for all employees. Generally, employees shall be informed on the schedule of their vacation 15 days prior to the beginning of the vacation.
During the recent epidemic situation the employer and the employee may differ from the rules of the Hungarian Labour Code, i.e. they can mutually agree not to keep the 15-day information period and that the employee also takes the seven days of vacation which stays at his disposal.
- Unpaid leave: At an employee’s request, an employer may authorize unpaid leave for the employee. However, in this case, the employee is to take into consideration that during this period his/her social security status is suspended.
2. Changes in the application of the Hungarian Labour Code during the epidemic situation:
During the recent epidemic situation the employer and the employee may enter into an agreement on the deviation from provisions of the Hungarian Labour Code both to the advantage and the disadvantage of the employee. This regulation may give opportunity to the employers e.g. to allocate working time more flexibly than the statutory provisions (Government Decree No. 47/2020 (III.18.).
TERMINATION OF THE EMPLOYMENT
- Termination by notice: Employers may terminate the employment relationships by notice based on the current economic situation. However, in the event the employee is infected by the coronavirus, he will be entitled to sick pay, therefore the notice period shall begin only after the lapse of the incapacity of work. Nevertheless termination may be communicated to the employee also in this case.
- Collective redundancies: collective redundancy rules may apply if the employer intends to terminate employment relationships in the amount as specified in the Hungarian Labour Code (at least 10 employees in case of more than 20 and less than 100 employees, 10 per cent of the employees in case of 100 or more, but less than 300 employees, at least 30 employees in case of 300 or more employees are employed at the company) within 30 days based on the average statistical workforce for the preceding six-month period.