Amendments to the Hungarian Labour Code, effective from September 1 2002, appear to favour employees' interests over those of employers.
The amendments modify various regulations on topics including working time, night work and afternoon shifts, rest periods, the Sunday payment supplement, employment contract modification requirements, severance payments, and collective employee relations.
The most frequently mentioned amendments address rest periods, requiring that one of the two weekly rest days must fall on a Sunday. This appears merely to reinforce the previously effective general prohibition on Sunday work, which forced employers to designate Sunday as one of the two weekly rest days. However, the Labour Code allows employers to require employees working under irregular work schedules (such as continuous operation, three or more shifts, seasonal work, and so on) to work on Sundays as ordinary work days. However, in these cases, with certain exceptions, the amendments mandate that the employee receive a new "Sunday supplement" to compensate for his or her Sunday work.
The amendments also mandate increased payments to an employee instructed to perform work not contained in his or her job description, and to employees working afternoon and night shifts. Furthermore, the severance payment due to employees nearing pre-old age pension entitlements is technically increased.
The amendments' provisions concerning collective employee relations primarily favour trade unions in respect of their consultation rights, monetary compensation and certain other benefits.
Generally, the amendments have sharpened the Labour Law, while leaving several issues in need of careful future practical analysis and possible significant conflicting legal interpretations.
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