At the beginning of the summer, the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania adopted amendments to the Labour Code (hereinafter – the LC) covering many aspects of labour law. In total, more than 40 articles of the LC have been amended, most of which will enter into force on 1 August 2022. Here is an overview of the fundamental changes that affect both employers and employees.
Termination of employment contract, discrimination and mobbing
1. Discrimination and dismissal at the employer’s will. From 1 August 2022, an extended list of non-discrimination criteria enter into force, including a prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of the fact that the employee is exercising or has exercised the rights provided for in the LC.
2. Mobbing. The new LC also introduces significant changes related to psychological violence at work:
- From 1 August 2022, employers must publish information on the prevention of psychological violence via communication methods that are commonly used in the workplace and take active action to help those who have experienced psychological violence in the workplace.
- As of 1 November 2022, amendments will enter into force defining what constitutes mobbing, violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment. Such violence includes any unacceptable conduct or threat thereof, regardless of whether the unacceptable conduct is intended to have a physical, psychological, sexual or economic impact, whether the unacceptable conduct causes or is likely to cause such an effect, whether such conduct is offensive to the dignity of a person or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, and/or whether it has or is likely to cause physical, financial and/or non-financial harm, either on a single occasion or on a repeated basis.
- Mobbing, violence and harassment are prohibited not only in workplaces where the employee is at the employer’s disposal or performs duties under a contract of employment, but also during breaks and when using utility, sanitary and hygienic facilities at work. Under the new amendments, violence will also be prohibited during work-related visits, travel, training, events and social activities; in work-related communication, including communication using information and electronic communication technologies; at employer-provided accommodation; and on the way to and from work.
- From 1 November 2022, employers with an average headcount of more than 50, following the information and consultation procedures, must adopt a policy on the prevention of violence and harassment, publish it by communication means commonly used at the workplace, and implement it.
3. A shorter notice period for termination of employment at the employee’s initiative without an important reason. With effect from 1 August 2022, the amendments provide for:
- As in the past, an employee may terminate the employment contract on his/her own initiative without an important reason by giving 20 calendar days’ notice to the employer, but the date of dismissal may be earlier if the employer agrees to shorten or waive the notice period.
- In addition, it is now provided that the employee is not entitled to exercise the right to withdraw the resignation notice within three working days if the employment contract has already been terminated.
4. Changes to the notice periods for termination of the employment contract at the employer’s initiative without fault on the part of the employee. From 1 January 2022, a new provision will enter into force, which provides that the standard notice period will also be tripled for employees who have submitted an extract for a disease included in the list of severe diseases approved by the order of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania.
Working time, probationary period and leave
1. Probationary period. The new version of the LC reduces the probationary period for an employee working under a fixed-term contract. Where a fixed-term contract is concluded for a period of less than six months, the probationary period must be proportionate to the duration of the contract (less than three months). This provision will apply to fixed-term contracts concluded after 1 August 2022.
2. Agreement on part-time work. From 1 August 2022, an expanded list of circumstances in which the employer must grant a request to work part-time, comes into force, with the following additional conditions:
- If the employee’s request is based on the need to care for a family member or a person living with the employee, according to the statement of a healthcare institution;
- if so requested by an employee raising a child under eight years of age.
3. Working time regime. The LC introduced a provision on working time arrangements requested by the employee, which enters into force on 1 August 2022:
- The employer must comply with a request to work under the working time regime preferred by an employee, when requested by a pregnant or breastfeeding employee, or one who has recently given birth; an employee with a child under the age of eight; an employee raising by themselves a child under the age of 14 or a disabled child under the age of 18; an employee who has submitted a request based on the opinion of a healthcare institution on his/her health status or the need to care for a family member, or a person living with the employee, provided that it does not result in excessive costs for the employer due to the production necessity or the organisation of work.
4. Paternity leave. From 1 January 2023, paternity leave may be split into a maximum of two parts. The previous regulation stated that paternity leave cannot be interrupted.
5. Parental leave. The new regulation introduced a provision providing for non-transferable parental leave for each parent. From 1 January 2023, an amendment will enter into force which provides that:
- Each parent (adoptive parent, guardian) is entitled, at any time before the child reaches the age of 18 or 24 months, to take a non-transferable two-month part of the parental leave.
- A non-transferable two-month part of the parental leave may be taken by each parent (adoptive parent, guardian) either in whole or in parts, alternately with the other parent (adoptive parent, guardian).
- The two-month non-transferable part of the parental leave cannot be taken by both parents (adoptive parents, guardians) at the same time.
6. Unpaid time off. To date, the LC has not provided for cases where the employer is obliged to grant unpaid time off to the employee. However, from 1 August 2022, the employer is obliged to grant unpaid time off to the employee if the employee’s request is related to a family emergency resulting from an illness or accident, for which the employee is required to be present in person.
7. Statutory mother’s/father’s days off. As of 1 August 2022, the new amendments to the LC enter into force for parents raising one or more children. Employees with one child under the age of 12 will be granted one additional paid day of rest every three months or a reduction in the working time of 8 hours every three months. Meanwhile, employees with two children under the age of 12, if one or both children are disabled, are granted two paid days per month or a reduction in working time of four hours per week.
The previous regulation did not provide for an additional day off or a reduction in working time for employees raising one child under the age of 12. Employees with two children under the age of 12, if one or both children are disabled, were granted only one day off per month or a reduction in working time by two hours per week.
Employment relations and change in working conditions
1. Additional aspects of employment relations that must be communicated to the employee before the start of work. From 1 August 2022, an expanded list of information to be provided to the employee in the employment contract or another document enter into force, with the additional inclusion of:
- The duration and conditions of the probationary period, if agreed.
- The procedure for termination of the employment contract.
- The procedure for determining and paying overtime and, if applicable, the procedure for changing the work/shift.
- The right to training, if such a right is granted by the employer.
- The names of the social security institutions receiving social security contributions in connection with employment relations and information on other social security covers provided by the employer, if the employer is responsible for this.
In this case, the employer may refer in the document to the labour law provisions governing these areas. The previous regulation had a shorter list of information to be provided.
2. Changes in working conditions. The new version of the LC adds an additional provision stating that if the contract of employment is modified at the initiative of the employee and the modification is for a fixed term, the employee returns to his/her previous working conditions at the end of the agreed term. This amendment enters into force on 1 August 2022.
3. Remote work. On 1 August 2022, the list of cases in which the employer must allow the employee to work remotely unless it can be demonstrated that this would entail unreasonable costs due to production necessity or the particularities of the organisation of the work is extended to include:
a. employees raising a child under eight years of age
b. upon the employee’s request based on his/her health status, disability or the need to care for a family member or a person living with the employee.
Such employees are entitled to work remotely full time.
The previous version had a shorter list of employees entitled to this guarantee. In addition, they were entitled to work remotely only for one fifth of their working time.
4. Additional requirements to be met by temporary employment enterprises. New changes that did not exist before:
- From 1 August 2022, temporary employment enterprises must provide the State Labour Inspectorate with information on employment through temporary employment enterprises and the number of temporary employees
- and must have temporary employees for at least three consecutive calendar months.
If the State Labour Inspectorate does not receive information from the employer on employment through temporary employment enterprises and the number of temporary employees, the State Labour Inspectorate will decide within five working days that the employer does not meet the criteria and remove the employer from the list of temporary employment enterprises (subject to a deadline of three working days for the provision of this information, calculated from the date of receipt of notification on the provision of information).
Similarly, if the employer indicates to the State Labour Inspectorate that it has not had any temporary employees for more than three consecutive calendar months, the State Labour Inspectorate takes within five working days a decision that the employer does not meet the criteria and removes the employer from the list of temporary employment enterprises.
Business trips and reimbursement
1. An obligation to the employer to provide information to the employee when going on a business trip lasting more than 28 days has been introduced. The amendments that come into effect from 1 August 2022:
- A new requirement that, in addition to the other information referred to in Article 44(1) and (2) of the LC, in the event of such a business trip the employee will have to be informed in advance of the country(ies) to which he/she travels on a business trip.
- If an employee is seconded to another EU or EEA State for temporary work under a contract for the provision of services or the performance of works concluded by the employer with a customer in another state, or to work in a branch, agency, group undertaking or another establishment of the employer, or to work as a temporary employee, the documents to be provided to the employee before the business trip must additionally indicate:
a. the remuneration to which he/she is entitled under the law of the state to which he/she is posted
b. the daily allowances and allowances to reimburse the actual travel, accommodation and meal expenses related to the business trip, if applicable
c. a link to the official national website of the host state containing information on posted employees
The previous regulation did not require prior notification of the state(s) of destination, but the requirement to indicate the place of performance of the work remains.
Although this is a new provision, it overlaps with the provisions of Article 44(1) of the LC: the requirement to provide the employee with information on remuneration and its constituent elements. The previous regulation did not require information on daily allowances and allowances to reimburse the actual travel, accommodation and meal expenses related to the business trip (if applicable) and a link to the host state’s official national website providing information on posted employees.
2. Reduction of allowance for employees whose work is mobile or performed outdoors, or which is related to travel. The new amendments are as follows:
- Employees whose work is mobile, is carried out outdoors or is related to travelling are paid allowance for the increased costs involved for the time actually spent working in this capacity. The total of such allowance may not exceed 30% of the base salary and is paid in the event that the employee is not reimbursed for business trip expenses.
- The previous regulation provided that 50% of the base salary could be paid for the type of work in question.
- This amendment will enter into force on 1 November 2022. On 1 June 2023, this provision will cease to apply, i.e. there will be no option to pay this allowance.
1. The option to setting up a works council in the structural organisational units (branches, representative offices or other structural units) carrying out the employer’s activities. So far, it has not been possible to set up a joint works council at the employer level or a works council at the workplace level in a structural organisational unit, but on 1 August 2022, new amendments come into force that state that:
- if the enterprise operates in the country and/or if the enterprise has structural organisational units (branches, agencies or other structural units of production or trade) carrying out the employer’s activities, with an average number of 20 or more employees, except where the workplace has a trade union operating at the employer level, a works council may be elected at the workplace level for the structural organisational unit, and a joint works council may be formed at the employer level.