Europe & UK

December 13, 2018

Hungary passes amendments to labor laws that significantly benefit employers


On December 12, in a move that is said to benefit employers, Hungarian Lawmakers, voting 130-52, passed certain amendments to the nation’s labor laws. The amendments, proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party, were criticized by several trade unions and opponents as “slave law”.

As per the new legislation,

• amount of overtime hours that employers can require employees to work in a year has been increased from 250 to 400;

• employers now have three years instead of one to settle payments of accrued overtime;

• employers can offer payment in the form of salary or vacation;

• employers can agree on overtime arrangements directly with workers, undermining the role of unions and collective bargaining in the employment process.

According to the Critics, the increase in the overtime hours from 250 to 400 per year is equivalent to adding a full day to the work week and is thus exploitative, thus increasing the potential health risk for employees.

Notably, the amendments were proposed by the nation’s leading party with the aim of addressing the issue of labor shortage, attracting investors, and improving economic growth. The government stated that it will allow employers to be more flexible.

In this regard, PM Orbán said, “We have to remove bureaucratic rules so that those who want to work and earn more can do so.”

On the other hand, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a non-governmental human rights organization, stated that the legislation was “a serious threat to the rule of law in Hungary and runs counter to values Hungary signed up to when it joined the European Union.”

The amendments have caused severe discontent among citizens and trade unions and have also attracted a lot of protests.

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