President signs the Labour Code

Nothing now stands in the way of this year’s most important piece of legislation, the Labour Code, after Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signed the bill into law. If the president had refused to sign the Labor Code and returned it to parliament the right-wing coalition, led by Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, would have struggled to approve it again.

Nothing now stands in the way of this year’s most important piece of legislation, the Labour Code, after Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signed the bill into law. If the president had refused to sign the Labor Code and returned it to parliament the right-wing coalition, led by Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, would have struggled to approve it again.

Four deputies with the Ordinary People faction, who made it to parliament on the slate of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), would not have supported the bill, which from September brings changes to almost all spheres of labour legislation, due to conflicts with the rest of the ruling coalition. In consequence the four-party coalition would not have had enough votes to overturn the eventual presidential veto. However, the head of state unexpectedly inked the new labour legislation claiming he found no legal obstacles to signing the bill into law, Sme daily reported.

The changes introduced by the amendment to the Labour Code include: cancellation of parallel entitlements for a layoff notice period and severance pay; longer periods for fixed-term employment, which can now be agreed for up to three years, with extensions or renewals allowed three times in a three-year period; a longer layoff notification period for employees with long service in the same job; and greater protection for mothers and pregnant women. The amendment also restricts the voice of a small union within a workplace and sets a 3-percent limit on the profit margin of companies selling meal vouchers.

The revision also removes a restriction on longer overtime hours; eases the drawing of compensatory leave; sets lower premium payments for overtime work and allows more night shifts; mandates a longer probationary period for managers; establishes five weeks of annual holiday for employees aged 33 and older; eliminates special advantages held by state managers; and gives the go-ahead for employers to share one work position among two or more employees. Six different minimum salary or wage levels are contained in the Labour Code, based on the nature of the job and its qualifications. The amended code requires that at least 30 percent of the employees in a particular firm must be members of a union for it to have the right to negotiate on their behalf.

Gašparovič’s decision to sign the Labour Code amendment will contribute to an increase in the number of jobs in Slovakia and to more flexibility in the labour market, the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Ministry stated in reaction on the same day.

"The Labour Code makes it possible to be highly flexible when establishing working practises, depending on the conditions of individual employers as well as employees," said Labour Minister Jozef Mihál, adding that more people will now be able to keep their jobs, TASR newswire reported.

Speaker of Parliament Richard Sulík had asked the president in person to sign the bill.

“I hope that, apart from the content of the bill, the arguments I gave him contributed to his decision,” said Sulík, as quoted by Sme.

Trade unions however plan protests and want to ask Smer to contest the law at the Constitutional Court.

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