Recently, the above bill was submitted to the House of Representatives. This bill is scheduled to come into force immediately on 1 August 2022. If the bill is passed in its current form by both the Lower and Upper Houses, the main changes and practical implications for you are as follows:
Extension of information obligation
New employees will have to be informed more extensively than at present about certain topics when they are hired. These include the workplace, working hours, entitlement to paid leave, overtime rules, reference days on which flexible work is performed and termination of the employment contract. Existing employees will also be able to request this information. If an existing employee does so, the employer must complete this information in writing or electronically within one month at the employee’s request.
Employers will be obliged (under circumstances) to:
offer training free of charge (i.e. the training itself, travel expenses and/or any textbooks);
whereby the training must take place during working hours wherever possible; and
whereby the training time qualifies as working time.
This refers to training that employers are required by law or collective agreement to offer so that an employee can properly perform his necessary work. In such cases, it is therefore no longer possible to agree a study expenses clause with employees. Note that vocational training courses or the renewal of professional qualifications are exempted, as long as the law or a collective bargaining agreement does not stipulate that an employer must compulsorily offer this. The bill does not mention any concrete examples (yet), additional information on this is expected during the discussion in the Lower House.
Ban on ancillary employment
An ancillary employment clause will only be valid after this Act comes into force if the clause can be justified because of an ‘objective reason’ or because of a statutory provision. This also applies to ancillary work clauses in existing employment contracts. However, it is not required that the clause itself contains such a justification. An employer can also invoke it later, the bill states.
An objective reason could include, for example, health and safety, protecting the confidentiality of company information, the integrity of public services, avoiding conflicts of interest or complying with working time legislation. Thus, the basic principle will soon be that an employee will soon be allowed to have multiple jobs, unless one of the above reasons applies.
Request for more predictable and secure working conditions
It is proposed to allow an employee who has been employed by the employer for at least 26 weeks to apply to his employer for ‘more predictable and secure terms and conditions of employment’. What exactly is meant by this is not (yet) clear. We do already know that an employer must decide on this request in writing and with reasons within one month. Small employers (fewer than 10 employees) will have three months to do so. If the employer does not respond in time, work will be adjusted in accordance with the employee’s request. An employee may make such a request only once a year. For an employer to honour this request, the requested work must of course be available from the employer.
New term: ‘unpredictable work’
The bill introduces this new term. Employees who work at unpredictable times and days, for example because they have an on-call or min/max contract, must soon be informed by their employer on which days the employee will perform the work. If an employee is then called up outside these so-called reference hours or days, he/she may refuse the work.
No transitional law
There will be no transitional law when this law comes into force. This means that if the bill is passed as currently tabled, these rules will immediately apply to all existing and future employment contracts.
The parliamentary process is currently ongoing in the Lower House. This means that changes may still occur regarding the above-mentioned and/or additional topics. We will therefore keep a close eye on this process and inform you of new developments. Should you have any questions about this bill in the meantime? We will of course be happy to help you.