Slovakia: Consecutive Fixed-Term Employment Contracts and “Pandemic” Childcare Allowances
The amendments of Social Insurance Act No 461/2003 Coll. as amended (hereinafter as “Social Insurance Act”) and of Act No 311/2001 Coll. Labour Code as amended (hereinafter as “Labour Code”) from 9 June 2020 brought along some new measures. The Labour Code now enables employers to extend or renew current fixed-term employment contracts. The rule that a fixed-term employment with an employee can be extended or renewed only within a two-year period (which can be exceeded in exceptional cases only, such as when replacing a worker who is on parental leave), therefore, no longer applies.
With the above amendments, the government responds to employers’ initiatives, mainly those active in automotive industry, who claim that those employees are under a higher risk of being dismissed which are employed under a fixed-term contracts which will shortly expire. Until now, employers were not allowed to extend the employment as no consecutive fixed-term contracts could be concluded above the statutory limit.
The other amendment regards the Social Insurance Act by including the possibility to receive so called pandemic childcare allowances even after June.
From 13 June 2020, the state of emergency in Slovakia due to coronavirus disease is cancelled; the extraordinary situation declared on 12 March 2020 still stands.
Labour Code: Exemption from ban on conclusion of consecutive fixed-term employment contracts
The Labour Code now includes a temporary measure which enables employers to still employ those workers whose fixed-term employment contracts expire during the extraordinary situation.
During the statutory temporary period, it is possible to extend or renew fixed-term employment contracts also while, at the same time, exceeding the statutory maximum period of two years valid under the previous legal regime. Employment can thus be concluded in succession in case of contracts which expire or have already expired without extension during extraordinary situation, state of emergency or state of heightened emergency declared in relation to the spread of coronavirus (hereinafter as “extraordinary situation”) or two months after the extraordinary situation is revoked.
All employers and companies should, however, take notice of the fact that the fixed-term employment contracts can be extended only once during the temporary period and by a maximum of one year.
Employers can benefit from the new regulation, for example, when they consider employing permanently a certain worker after the expiration of the fixed-term contract concluded with such an employee, but they need a longer period to become convinced of the employee’s qualities.
It should be also noted that, under the provisions of the Labour Code, employers are obliged to consult in advance such extension or renewal of fixed-term employment contracts with the employee representatives, or else such extended or renewed employment contract is considered to have been concluded for an indefinite time.
Social Insurance Act: Continuity of childcare allowances during pandemic
Due to the improved epidemiological situation in relation to the Covid-19 disease in Slovakia and with regard to the gradual reopening plan for businesses and stores, the Health Office of the Slovak Republic (Úrad verejného zdravotníctva) has introduced a new measure allowing the reopening of childcare facilities for children under 3 years of age, kindergartens and primary schools for pupils of first through fifth grades.
The Social Insurance Act is amended regarding the continuous provision of childcare allowances for the duration of the extraordinary situation to such parents who decide for their children not to return to pre-school facilities and schools (note that the return is voluntary) even though these are opened again, as either the capacities are fully utilised or the parents have concerns about risks to their children’s health. A similar regulation applies to social facilities including nurseries.
The Social Insurance Company (Sociálna poisťovňa) will thus continue paying the childcare allowances in the described cases. The allowances will, however, only be granted for the duration of the learning and education process in which a child does not participate, i.e. no payments during summer holidays (1 July to 31 August 2020). The regulation once again differs in the case of pre-school facilities and nurseries, as these do not adhere to the school holiday terms mandatory for primary and secondary schools. Decisions on the operation of kindergartens and nurseries during summer holidays lie with the director in cooperation with the maintaining body.
After meeting prescribed conditions, parents can expect to receive “pandemic” childcare allowances also in July and August even when kindergartens remain open. No allowances will be paid only during the mandatory (at least) three-week closure of kindergartens and nurseries which is reserved for taking hygiene and other measures.
Any questions? Please contact: JUDr. Pavol Rak, Ph.D. and Erika Urdovičová
Practice group: Employment & Pensions