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Slovak Republic: Protecting temporary employees

In Slovakia, an employee may be obtained from another employer or temporary employment agency through what is called temporary assignment of employees. This is very popular, primarily due to the financial savings associated with payroll administration, and particularly the savings involved with the costs incurred in the event of a sudden drop in production. Another advantage is that job openings can be quickly filled by suitable employees. Also, in the event of a sudden drop in production the employee that was allocated can simply be returned, effectively terminating the employment relationship without the need for a notice period and without the obligation of paying severance to the employee.

The Slovak Government has adopted an amendment to the Labour Code that will come into force on January 1 2015. It is intended to address issues that arise with the temporary assignment of employees. In an attempt to resolve any veiled temporary assignment of employees, the act lays down the refutable idea that the qualified performance of work for another party is considered temporary assignment of an employee, even if there is no formal agreement regarding the temporary assignment. The goal of this amendment is to cut down on evasion of the law on comparable work and wage conditions for temporarily allocated employees. This will be managed through the agreement concluded between the employer of the temporary worker and the user employer. The subject of the agreement is often one of services and not one of temporary employment and therefore the user employer does not follow rules applicable to secondment of the employee (provision of similar terms and conditions for seconded employee as to its own employees).

One of the crucial changes is the joint responsibility for payment of a comparable wage, by both the employer of the temporary worker and the user employer. The user employer will be forced to examine the wage that was paid to the temporary employee. If the temporary employee was paid a wage less than the wage paid to the user employer's full-time employees, or if no wage was paid at all, the user employer will be obligated, within 15 days of the pay period, to pay the temporary employee the difference between the wage he received and the wage paid to full-time employees by the user employer (or the entire comparable wage paid to the user employer's full-time employees).

To protect temporary employees, the amendment requires that temporary employment agencies specify the termination of employment agreed for a fixed period as of the day of the termination. Frequently, this type of employment has allowed a temporary employee to lose their job on the spot, for instance if the user employer returns the temporary employee to the temporary employment agency. This is considered abuse of the law, to the detriment of the employee. Under the new law, a temporary employment agency will be able to dismiss a temporary employee if the user employer returns the temporary employee before the date of termination of the agreement due to redundancy. If a temporary employee is terminated by the temporary employment agency for that reason, the temporary employee will be entitled to severance pay equal to at least his average earnings in a month.

The act limits the duration of temporary assignment and the number of times it can be renewed, emphasising the temporary nature of the assignment. The goal is not to hire the temporary employee on a full-time basis, which would essentially be considered veiled direct employment between the temporary employee and the user employer. If the lawful limitation is violated, the employment between the user employer and the temporary employee will be terminated and a new employment relationship will be created, it will be considered by law as employment for an indefinite period, between the temporary employee and the user employer. The Act limits temporary jobs to a maximum of 24 months, during which time the temporary contract may be extended or renewed no more than five times. The act proposes that renewals and extensions of temporary employment contracts apply to all contracts concluded as of May 1 2013 and later.

The act bans temporary employment for high-risk work in jobs categorised by the regional public health authority as category 4 jobs, meaning those jobs where the employee's health is in direct danger and the risk cannot be reduced by technical or organisational measures.

Daniel Futej, Radka Sláviková-Geržová, and Zuzana Šteklácová

Daniel FutejRadka Sláviková-GeržováZuzana Šteklácová

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