Slovak labour legislation copes with pandemic and inflow of Ukrainian refugees

Kurzarbeit and Lex Ukraine are the most important legislation adopted.

The assistence centre for Ukrainian refugees.  The assistence centre for Ukrainian refugees. (Source: SME - Marko Erd)

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine resulting in a refugee wave have been the main factors Slovak labour legislation needed to respond to. Among the most important laws adopted were the laws introducing the short-time work scheme or kurzarbeit and Lex Ukraine. Both are effective as of spring 2022, though it will take some time for their effects to show up. The Slovak Spectator spoke with Matúš Kočíšek and Lívia Miklenčičová of the Kinstellar Bratislava, Zuzana Hodoňová and Jozef Virčík of Wolf Theiss Bratislava, Andrea Čupeľová, partner of the TaylorWessing, Soňa Hanková, Martina Gavalec and Roman Kettner of CMS Slovakia and Dušan Nitschneider of Nitschneider & Partners about the new legislation as well as about possible changes to improve access to the Slovak labour market.

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What major legislative changes affecting the labour market have been made over the last year?

Matúš Kočíšek (MK): One of the major changes that came together with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 was the clarification and more precise wording of the rules on remote work. While it brought the benefit of working from home, it also brought new challenges to employers related to data confidentiality and cybersecurity.

Another major change was the introduction of the new Short-Time Work Support Act, widely known as kurzarbeit in German. This aims to ensure that the state partly compensates employer wage costs during a period of shortened work caused by external factors. In return, employers have to keep affected employees at their job positions during the period of shortened work.

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Related article One shock after another. Labour market copes with pandemic impacts and the arrival of refugees Read more 

As a reaction to the large number of Ukrainians fleeing their homes due to war, the Lex Ukraine legislation has been adopted granting Ukrainian nationals a specific status of temporary refugee. This measure has enabled Ukrainians to quickly obtain permission to stay in Slovakia and consequently has eased their access to work, education, health care, etc.

Zuzana Hodoňová (ZH): The Short-Time Work Support Act entitles employees to a wage compensation of at least 80 percent of their average earnings even if not performing their work due to external factors.

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