Labour & Employment

Croatia: Are Changes to the Labour Law Aimed at Labour Market Flexibility?

Although accompanied by a strong opposition from both unions and employers, the new Croatian Labour Act entered into force on 7 August 2014. It is directed mostly towards encouraging atypical employment forms, improving working time flexibility and making the procedures for lay-offs less complicated.

New Labour Act 2014

The Labour Act as it stood before its amend­ments in 2014 was per­ceived as and crit­i­cised for being among the strictest employ­ment pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tions in Europe. Labour mar­ket rigid­i­ty was seen as a rea­son for the lack of com­pet­i­tive­ness of the Croa­t­ian econ­o­my and the low lev­el of job cre­ation. The new Labour Act aims to change this per­cep­tion, enhance flex­i­bil­i­ty and reduce the cost of work­force restruc­tur­ings. Fur­ther EU har­mon­i­sa­tion adjust­ments have also been includ­ed in the new Labour Act.

Com­pared to the old Labour Act, the amend­ments are ori­ent­ed in three ways, most­ly con­cern­ing (i) less com­pli­cat­ed pro­ce­dures for lay-offs, (ii) more flex­i­ble work time and (iii) encour­age­ment of atyp­i­cal employ­ment forms, such as part-time employ­ment, sea­son­al employ­ment and tem­po­rary agency employ­ment.

Ter­mi­na­tion of employ­ment

The notice peri­od for ter­mi­na­tion is no longer on hold dur­ing vaca­tion, paid leave or peri­ods of tem­po­rary work dis­abil­i­ty. If, how­ev­er, a work dis­abil­i­ty occurs dur­ing the notice peri­od, the employ­ment rela­tion­ship auto­mat­i­cal­ly ter­mi­nates six months from deliv­ery of a res­o­lu­tion on ter­mi­na­tion. The pre­vi­ous arrange­ment caused major prob­lems for employ­ers, not only mak­ing it impos­si­ble for them to mon­i­tor the time of the actu­al ter­mi­na­tion of employ­ment but also because of poten­tial abus­es by employ­ees.

In cas­es of wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion, the indem­ni­ty has been reduced from a max­i­mum of 18 to the max­i­mum of eight salaries. Fur­ther­more, an employ­er who plans to ter­mi­nate more than 20 employ­ees need not pre­pare a col­lec­tive redun­dan­cy plan.

The new Labour Act has also final­ly clar­i­fied the exis­tence of a dif­fer­ent ter­mi­na­tion treat­ment dur­ing the pro­ba­tion peri­od. Now, the courts may not devel­op the prac­tice that ter­mi­na­tion dur­ing the pro­ba­tion peri­od is as hard as dur­ing reg­u­lar employ­ment.
The amend­ments pri­mar­i­ly aim to enable employ­ers to keep work posi­tions and restruc­ture quick­ly, as well as to respond to the fre­quent issue of employ­ee abus­es.

Fixed term employ­ment

The pro­vi­sions on fixed-term employ­ment have final­ly been har­monised with the direc­tive 1999/70/EC, mak­ing it more flex­i­ble and there­fore more appeal­ing to the employ­ers. The first employ­ment can now be linked to a con­di­tion that lim­its the time of employ­ment, but this time lim­it is now pro­longed.

Work­ing time

The intro­duced change con­cerns the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an employ­ee already ful­ly employed to enter into a sec­ond employ­ment agree­ment with anoth­er employ­er for up to eight hours a week (180 hours a year), but the approval of the employ­er with whom the employ­ee is employed full time is required.

The max­i­mum over­time hours have been extend­ed to up to 50 hours a week, while the upper lim­it stays at 180 hours a year. But this can be extend­ed to up to 250 hours a year by the col­lec­tive agree­ment. In case of an unequal dis­tri­b­u­tion of work­ing time, an employ­ee can work up to 50 hours or even 60 hours a week if the lat­ter is agreed under a col­lec­tive agree­ment, includ­ing over­time. In any case, the employ­ee may not work more than an aver­age of 48 hours a week in four con­sec­u­tive months; how­ev­er, again this can be extend­ed by a col­lec­tive agree­ment to up to six months.

Regard­less of the above, by a col­lec­tive agree­ment, unequal dis­tri­b­u­tion of work­ing time may be extend­ed even beyond the lim­it of 60 hours a week. Yet the total amount of work­ing hours can­not be more than an aver­age of 45 hours a week over six months.

The amend­ments com­pli­cate work­ing time pro­vi­sions and there­fore could pro­duce var­i­ous inter­pre­ta­tions among employ­ers, employ­ees and work inspec­tion, which might result in unwant­ed prob­lems and ten­sions.

Atyp­i­cal forms of employ­ment

New pro­vi­sions encour­ag­ing, for exam­ple, tem­po­rary agency employ­ment aim to pro­vide a faster move­ment of unem­ployed per­sons into the labour mar­ket. Employ­ers are now able to engage an employ­ee of a tem­po­rary employ­ment agency any­time and for any work posi­tion. The idea behind the new reg­u­la­tion is to pro­vide legal incen­tives for tem­po­rary employ­ment agen­cies to hire employ­ees on the basis of per­ma­nent rather than fixed-term con­tracts, thus pro­vid­ing them with income secu­ri­ty between assign­ments.

A more flexible labour market?

The amend­ments have received plen­ty of crit­i­cism from both sides the unions as well as the employ­ers. The unions have opposed the amend­ments, argu­ing that they will under­mine the legal pro­tec­tions of employ­ees. The employ­ers have been argu­ing that fun­da­men­tal struc­tur­al changes, nec­es­sary to facil­i­tate busi­ness and encour­age new employ­ment, have not been made, ulti­mate­ly under­min­ing the need­ed turn­around in the econ­o­my. Employ­ers fur­ther point to the dis­par­i­ty of rights between pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor employ­ees. That is, the Labour Act still does not apply to civ­il ser­vants, who enjoy ultra-pro­tec­tive spe­cial reg­u­la­tions that do not “pun­ish” them to be effi­cient, leav­ing pri­vate sec­tor employ­ers to bear all the con­se­quences of the cur­rent eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion.

Fre­quent changes to the labour law make its suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion dif­fi­cult and har­mon­i­sa­tion of the court prac­tice hard to achieve. The prac­ti­cal imple­men­ta­tion of the new Labour Act, how­ev­er, is still expect­ed. Its pro­vi­sions are use­ful and, to an extent, should make the Croa­t­ian labour mar­ket more flex­i­ble. A pos­i­tive sur­prise would indeed be if the new Labour Act soon pro­duces pos­i­tive effects on employ­ment, invest­ment and over­all devel­op­ment.

The Croatian government expects the new Labour Act to have a positive impact on the labour market and to encourage foreign investment in Croatia. However, unions and employers have strongly opposed the changes and it remains to be seen whether the desired results will be achieved.

Hrvatska: Jesu li izmjene Zakona o radu namijenjene fleksibilnosti tržišta rada?

Iako popraćen žestokom kritikom od strane poslodavaca i sindikata, novi zakon o radu stupio je na snagu 7. kolovoza 2014. godine. Usmjeren je ponajviše ka poticanju netipičnih oblika zapošljavanja, poboljšanja radnog vremena te pojednostavljenju postupka otkazivanja.

Novi Zakon o radu iz 2014. godine

Zakon o radu kakav je bio pri­je izm­je­na u 2014. godi­ni sma­tran je i kri­tiziran kao jedan od najstrožih rad­nih zakon­o­davs­ta­va u Europi. Rigid­nost tržiš­ta rada sma­trala se razl­o­gom nekonkurent­nos­ti hrvatskog gospo­darst­va te niskog stup­n­ja stvaran­ja novih rad­nih mjes­ta. Cilj novog zakona o radu je izmi­jen­i­ti takvu per­cep­ci­ju, povećati flek­si­bil­nost i sman­ji­ti troškove restruk­turi­ran­ja radne snage. Novim zakonom o radu također je prove­de­na i daljn­ja har­mo­nizaci­ja nacionalnog zakon­o­davst­va sa zakon­o­davstvom EU.

U uspored­bi sa starim zakonom o radu, izm­jene su usm­jerene u tri prav­ca, a pon­a­jviše se tiču (i) pojed­nos­tavl­jen­ja pos­tup­ka otkazi­van­ja, (ii) uvođen­ja flek­si­bil­ni­jeg radnog vre­me­na i (iii) pot­i­can­ja netip­ičnih obli­ka zapošl­ja­van­ja, kao što su rad sa skraćen­im rad­nim vre­menom, sezon­s­ki rad i rad putem agen­ci­ja za privre­meno zapošl­ja­van­je.

Prestanak ugov­o­ra o radu

Otkazni rok u sluča­ju otkaza ugov­o­ra o radu od sada teče i za vri­jeme godišn­jeg odmo­ra, plaćenog dopus­ta te raz­dobl­ja privremene nes­posob­nost za rad rad­ni­ka. Ako bi, među­tim, privre­me­na nes­posob­nost za rad rad­ni­ka nasta­la tijekom tra­jan­ja otkaznog roka, ugov­or o radu se automats­ki rask­i­da šest mjese­ci od dana donošen­ja odluke o otkazu. Pri­jašn­je ure­đen­je ovog insti­tu­ta stvar­alo je popril­ične prob­leme poslo­davci­ma, ne samo zbog onemoguća­van­ja praćen­ja stvarnog vre­me­na prestanka ugov­o­ra o radu, već i zbog poten­ci­jal­nih zlo­pora­ba od strane rad­ni­ka.

U sluča­ju neza­koni­tog otkaza, nakna­da štete sman­je­na je sa mak­si­mal­nih 18 na mak­si­mal­nih osam plaća. Nadal­je, poslo­davac koji plani­ra otkaza­ti ugov­ore o radu više od 20 rad­ni­ka, više nije dužan pripremi­ti plan zbrin­ja­van­ja viš­ka rad­ni­ka.

Novi Zakon o radu napokon je raz­jas­nio i dru­gači­ji tret­man otkaza tijekom probnog rada. Sada sudovi više nisu u mogućnos­ti stvarati prak­su kojom bi otkaz tijekom probnog rada bilo jed­nako teško dati kao i tijekom reg­u­larnog zaposlen­ja.
Ove novine prven­stveno ima­ju za cilj omogući­ti poslo­davci­ma zadrža­van­je i brzo restruk­turi­ran­je rad­nih mjes­ta, kao i odgo­varan­je na učestale prob­leme zlo­pora­ba od strane rad­ni­ka.

Ugov­or o radu na određeno vri­jeme

Odredbe o ugov­oru o radu na određeno vri­jeme napokon su usklađene s odred­ba­ma direk­tive 1999/70/EC, čineći ih tako flek­si­bil­ni­jim i sto­ga privlačni­jim poslo­davci­ma. Prvo zaposlen­je tako može biti vezano za uvjet koji ograniča­va tra­jan­je zaposlen­ja, među­tim sada je tak­vo ograničen­je pro­duženo u odno­su na stari Zakon o radu.

Rad­no vri­jeme

Uve­de­na nov­ina omoguću­je rad­niku koji je već zaposlen na puno rad­no vri­jeme, sklo­p­i­ti još jedan ugov­or o radu sa drugim poslo­davcem do najviše osam sati tjed­no (180 sati godišn­je), među­tim za skla­pan­je istog potreb­no je ishodi­ti odobren­je od poslo­davca kod kojeg je rad­nik zaposlen na puno rad­no vri­jeme.

Mak­si­mal­no tra­jan­je prekovre­menog rada pro­duženo je na 50 sati tjed­no, ali i dal­je se zadržao gorn­ji godišn­ji lim­it od 180 sati. Među­tim kolek­tivn­im ugov­orom i taj se gorn­ji godišn­ji lim­it može pro­duži­ti najviše na 250 sati. U sluča­ju nejed­nake raspod­jele radnog vre­me­na, rad­nik može radi­ti do 50 sati tjed­no odnos­no čak i do 60 sati ako je to ugov­oreno kolek­tivn­im ugov­orom, a što uključu­je i prekovre­meni rad. U svakom sluča­ju, rad­nik u sluča­ju nejed­nake raspod­jele radnog vre­me­na ne može radi­ti duže od pros­ječno 48 sati tjed­no u svakom raz­doblju od četiri uza­stop­na mjese­ca, iako opet, to raz­doblje kolek­tivn­im ugov­orom može biti pro­duženo do najviše šest mjese­ci.

Bez obzi­ra na gore nave­de­no, kolek­tivn­im ugov­orom nejed­na­ka raspod­jela radnog vre­me­na može biti pro­duže­na i preko granice od 60 sati tjed­no. Među­tim, uku­pan fond rad­nih sati tijekom raz­dobl­ja nejed­nake raspod­jele ne može biti veći od pros­ječnih 45 sati tjed­no u raz­doblju od šest mjese­ci.

Iz sve­ga gore nave­denog proi­zlazi da ove izm­jene kom­pli­ci­ra­ju pojam radnog vre­me­na iz zakona o radu i kao takve mogu uzroko­vati različite inter­pretaci­je između poslo­dava­ca, rad­ni­ka i inspekci­je rada što u kon­ačni­ci može dovesti do nežel­jenih prob­le­ma i ten­z­i­ja.

Netip­ični obli­ci zapošl­ja­van­ja

Cilj novih odred­bi koje npr. potiču rad putem agen­ci­ja za privre­meno zapošl­ja­van­je je osig­u­rati brže kre­tan­je neza­poslenih oso­ba kroz tržište rada. Poslo­davci sada ima­ju mogućnost angaži­rati rad­nike putem agen­ci­je za privre­meno zapošl­ja­van­je bilo kada i za bilo koju pozi­ci­ju. Ide­ja ovih novih odred­bi je osig­u­rati pot­i­can­je zapošl­ja­van­ja rad­ni­ka od strane agen­ci­ja za privre­meno zapošl­ja­van­je na neo­dređeno umjesto na određeno vri­jeme, na taj način pruža­jući rad­nici­ma sig­urnost dohot­ka između nji­hovih angaž­mana.

Fleksibilnije tržište rada?

Izm­jene zakona o radu doživ­jele su mno­go kri­ti­ka s obje strane, i od poslo­dava­ca i od sindika­ta. Sindikati su se pro­tivili izm­je­na­ma, ističući kako se isti­ma naruša­va prav­na zašti­ta rad­ni­ka. Poslo­davci su s druge strane tvrdili da temeljne struk­turne prom­jene koje su neophodne kako bi se olakša­lo poslo­van­je i potaknu­lo novo zapošl­ja­van­je, uopće nisu uve­dene, što u kon­ačni­ci ne dovo­di do potrebnog zaokre­ta u gospo­darstvu. Poslo­davci nadal­je upuću­ju na neizmi­jen­jeno pos­to­jan­je nejed­nakosti u prav­i­ma između rad­ni­ka u pri­vat­nom i rad­ni­ka u javnom sek­toru. Naime, zakon o radu se i dal­je ne prim­jen­ju­je na državne službenike koji podli­ježu izuzetno zaštit­ničkim poseb­n­im propisi­ma koji ne ‘kažn­java­ju’ državne službenike zbog nji­hove neučinkovi­tosti, ostavl­ja­jući poslo­davce iz pri­vatnog sek­to­ra da se nose sa posljedica­ma trenutne gospo­darske situaci­je.

Često mijen­jan­je radnog zakon­o­davst­va oteža­va nje­govu usp­ješnu proved­bu i teško može dovesti do usklađi­van­ja sudske prakse. Prak­tič­na prim­je­na novog zakona o radu se, među­tim, još iščeku­je. Nje­gove odredbe su korisne i u određenoj bi mjeri tre­bale učini­ti hrvatsko tržište rada flek­si­bil­ni­jim. Uko­liko prim­je­na zakona o radu u sko­ro vri­jeme postigne poz­i­tivne učinke na zaposlen­je, inves­ti­ci­je i ukup­ni razvoj, to će uistinu biti rado očeki­vano izne­nađen­je.

Hrvatska vlada očekuje pozitivan učinak novog zakona o radu na tržište rada i poticanje stranih investicija u Hrvatskoj. Izmjenama radnog zakonodavstva žestoko su se protivili sindikati i poslodavci, stoga ostaje vidjeti hoće li željeni rezultati vlade biti postignuti.