The beginning of the year saw several important amendments to the Labour Code and other legislation relating to labour law, entering into force on 1 January. This newsletter gives an overview of the amendments most important for employers relating to wages and their payment, as well as to the protection of whistleblowers.
Minimum wages increased
On 1 January 2022 the minimum wage increased to:
- EUR 730 per month (gross) for full-time employment
- EUR 4.47 per hour (gross)
The increased minimum wage applies to employees automatically. However, if a specific rate previously in force as the minimum wage is indicated in the employment contract, the change should be documented by entering into an agreement amending the employment contract.
Wage payments in cash eliminated
Another amendment effective from the beginning of the year stipulates that wages and other payments linked with employment relations, as well as per diems and compensations of business trip expenses must be paid by a transfer to the payment account indicated by the employee. An exemption for payment of wages and other payments linked with employment relations only applies to seafarers.
To avoid misunderstandings, it is important to ensure employees understand that they must provide the employer with their personal bank account rather than with an account of his or her family member or another person.
Fines doubled for violations of wage calculation and payment rules
The recent amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences set out liability for violations of the procedure for the calculation and payment of wages. A violation of the procedure for the calculation and payment of wages leads to a fine of between EUR 300 and EUR 1,450 on the employer or other responsible persons. Any repeated violation results in a fine of between EUR 1,400 and EUR 3,000. An intentional violation results in the wrongdoer being subject to a fine of between EUR 2,700 and EUR 6,000.
New version of Law on Whistleblower Protection
The recast Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers providing for changes relevant for both the public and private sector will enter into force from 15 February 2022. This law implements Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of persons reporting infringements of Union law.
Although the new version of law has already been adopted and is to become effective shortly, the implementing regulations that stipulate how employers must implement this law have not been enacted yet. For example, the obligation for private companies to set up internal channels for reporting infringements (e.g. a hotline or a dedicated intranet page), the obligation for the employer to set up internal procedures to ensure the confidentiality of the information received through internal channels, etc. Until this is done, employers will not be able to fully update their internal procedures and documents regulating the provision of information via internal channels and the guarantee of confidentiality.
On the other hand, employers can already begin preparing for the new changes provided by the amended law.
The key changes are as follows:
- It will be possible to supply information on a violation not only in written but also in spoken form (the previous version of the law did not provide for the provision of information in spoken form).
- The definition of a whistleblower has been expanded to include, among others: persons having pre-contractual relations with the enterprise; persons who are members of the managing, administrative or supervisory bodies of the enterprise; third parties: for example, persons working for contractors, subcontractors or suppliers; prior to this, the range of speakers was considerably narrower.
- New categories have been introduced: for example, a person who provides help to a whistleblower should be subject to the confidentiality guarantee.
- The list of violations relating to public order (for example, violations relating to the domestic market) and subject to reporting has been expanded.
- Additional duties for the institution receiving the information are provided for with respect to information provision to the whistleblower, time limits and storage of information.
- The list of prohibited retaliatory measures against whistleblowers has been extended. For example, it will be prohibited to restrict whistleblowers’ ability to participate in previously standard formal or informal activities, to refuse to renew a fixed-term employment contract or to terminate a fixed-term employment contract before it expires.