The Court: summarised working time cannot be applied for part-time employees

On 2 February 2019, the Civil Cases Department of the Latvian Supreme Court published a judgment (case No. C29688412, SKC-1818/2014) to the effect that recording summarised working time under Section 140(1) of the Labour Law refers only to full-time employees. The Civil Cases Department came to the same conclusion also in a judgment of 4 December 2015, (case No. C284900012, SKC-2735/2015). This means that, in the Court’s now well-established view, the Labour Law does not permit aggregated working time for part-time employees.

Although opinions differ among lawyers about the Court’s finding, it is still worthwhile paying attention to it, so that employers who hire part-time personnel should assess whether to introduce certain changes to their present working time organisation.

The Labour Law sets a deviation from the general procedure for paying overtime

The Latvian parliament approved amendments to the Labour Law, which comes into force on 1 May 2019. The amendments provide for an option to set a lower supplementary payment for overtime work in industries where the minimum salary has been significantly increased by general agreement. The amendments state that if by a general agreement which has been entered into in line with Section 18(4) of the Labour Law and which significantly increases the state-determined minimum salary or hourly wages by at least 50% above the state-determined minimum salary or hourly wages, then the supplementary payment for overtime work can be lower, but not less than 50% of the hourly rate set for the employee; however, if a piecework salary has been agreed upon, then the rate is not less than 50% of the piecework rate set for the amount of work done.

New Trade Secrets Protection Law

As employees are the people who have most direct contact with an employer’s carefully protected information – trade secrets – to carry out their work, important news is that on 1 April 2019 the Trade Secret Protection Law came into force along with related amendments to the Civil Procedure Law. The law aims to ensure efficient protection of trade secrets, especially against unauthorised acquisition, use or disclosure. The law includes rules that stem from Directive (EU) 2016/943 of the European Parliament and of the Council (8 June 2016) on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure.

The law defines a “trade secret” as undisclosed information of an economic character, technological knowledge and scientific or other information that meets all the following features:

  • it is secret in the sense that it is not generally known among ‒ or readily accessible to ‒ persons within the circles that normally deal with this kind of information;
  • it has actual or potential commercial value;
  • the person lawfully in control of the information has taken reasonable steps to keep it secret.

Employers should check whether information presently holding the status of a trade secret complies with the legal definition of trade secret, as well as making sure that adequate and reasonable measures are taken to maintain confidentiality.

On 1 May 2019, the Whistleblowing Law comes into force

Finally, we would like to remind you that 1 May 2019 is approaching together with the Whistleblowing Law. This aims to facilitate whistleblowing in the public interest about wrongdoing, ensure that a whistleblowing mechanism is set up and operating, as well as appropriate protection for whistleblowers and their relatives.

All employers with more than 50 employees must establish an internal whistleblowing system with a safe option for employees to report wrongdoing and with guaranteed protection.

The State Chancellery is expected still before end of April to publish guidelines of good practice for establishing an internal whistleblowing system to help employers arrange an internal whistleblowing system most suitable for them.