Global Compliance Desk – Europe

Other Pertinent Employment Law Updates in Europe

The advent of Spring brings with it longer evenings, (supposedly) warmer weather, and the annual changes to rates and limits in employment law. There have been changes all around Europe since the beginning of 2019 in context to Employment Law. The changes are stated below:

Denmark

Based on the findings and recommendations in the Holidays Committee’s “Report on a New Holidays Act” issued on 22 August 2017, the Danish Parliament has adopted a new Holidays Act which will enter into force on 1 September 2020.

Current Rules of Staggered Holiday

Under the current rules, holidays are earned from January to December (accrual year), wherein employees cannot spend their accrued holidays before 1 May of the following year. Therefore, new employees may have to work up to 16 months without leave before they can take paid holiday leave.

New Rules of Concurrent Holiday
According to the new Holiday Act, employees can accrue and take the leave at the same time in a 12-month period (the holiday year). This means that the holiday earned in February can be taken as soon as March the same year.

The amendment introduces a new period for accruing and taking leave. The change to concurrent holiday implies that the holiday year – the period in which holiday entitlement is accrued – will run from 1 September to 31 August. The period in which the accrued holiday can be taken will be the same as the holiday year + 4 months, i.e. from 1 September to 31 December the following year, in total 16 months.  Hence, the employee will have the opportunity to take the earned vacation for an additional 4 months, which means that he will have 16 months to take the earned holiday (holiday period). This gives the employee higher flexibility to take the holiday.

Italy
The Budget Law for 2019 (Law No. 145/2018), which entered into force on January 1, 2019, introduced a number of new provisions into Italian employment law. Two of the main changes relate to support for parents in the workplace and action against irregular employment.

Support for Parents

If employers decide to enter into smart working agreements with employees, priority must be given to parents of disabled children and mothers within the three years following their maternity leave.

Pregnant employees are now allowed to stay at work until the ninth month of pregnancy with prior authorization of their gynecologist and the competent doctor. This means they can take all of their mandatory maternity leave of five months in full after the birth. Before this legislative change, pregnant employees had to refrain from working two months before the birth (or at least one month before the birth, if authorized).

Mandatory paid paternity leave is now extended from the previous four days to five days: it can be taken during the first five months following the child’s birth. The bonus provided to employees for enrolling children in the nursery has been increased to EUR 1500 for 2019.

Norway

Strengthened Preferential Rights for Part-time Employees

In accordance with The Norwegian Working Environment Act (‘WEA’), part-time employees have the right to increase their working hours within their position, rather than the employer hiring a new employee. This is dependent upon the employee is eligible for the position and it being possible to implement without significant disadvantage to the employer. The amendment entered into force on January 1, 2019.

Finland

Working Hours Reform Proposed

The government proposal on a new Finnish Working Hours Act was submitted to parliament on 27 September 2018. The new Act would replace the current Working Hours Act dating from 1996. The aim of the reform is to create new tools for making local working hour arrangements and to meet the needs of the present-day working life. The arrangement would be intended for specialist work where specific goals and overall timetables are more important than working during set hours. Currently, only certain collective agreements in Finland include provisions regarding working hour banks. The reform is intended to enter into force on January 1, 2020.

Slovakia

Holiday Vouchers

With effect from January 1, 2019, the Slovak Parliament has approved an amendment to the Labour Code introducing a recreation allowance publicly known as a ‘holiday voucher’. This amendment is aimed at supporting tourism in Slovakia by providing an allowance for employees who spend at least two nights at an accommodation facility in Slovakia, with catering and other expenses potentially covered.

This obligation only applies to employers with more than 49 employees (for others, it is optional) and to employees who have worked for the employer for more than two years on the day their holiday begins. The amount of the contribution is set at 55% of the employee’s eligible expenses, up to a maximum of EUR 275 per year.

Other Changes in Employment Law in Europe

The National Living Wage Increase in Europe

On April 1, 2019, the National Living Wage (formally known as the National Minimum Wage) will increase by 4.9% for all age groups, calculated at.

  • £8.21 per hour for workers aged 25 and over (up from £7.83).
  • £7.70 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24 (up from £7.38).
  • £6.15 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20 (up from £5.90).
  • £4.35 per hour for workers aged under 18 (up from £4.20).
  • £3.90 per hour for apprentices (up from £3.70).

Failure to pay the National Living Wage can result in being publicly named and shamed and a maximum penalty of £20,000 being imposed. Most employers do not intentionally pay less than the minimum wage, but laxities in HR systems can mean employees’ birthdays are missed and therefore their wage does not increase when they reach an age where the amount paid should change.

Itemized payslips

Employers will need to provide all workers (not just employees) with an itemized pay statement. If a worker’s pay varies by reference to time worked, their payslip must show the total number of hours worked in respect of the variable amount of pay either as

  • A single aggregate figure, or
  • Separate figures for different types of work or different rates of pay. Here is the government guidance which contains some case studies.

A worker who thinks that they have not received a payslip, or that their payslip lacks the required information, may bring a claim. If the tribunal agrees, it must make a declaration to this effect.

New Statutory Rates

  • The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase to £86,444 (from £83,682). Consequently, for any dismissals which take effect on or after April 6, 2019, the cap on the compensatory award will be the lower of £86,444 or 52 weeks’ pay.
  • The limit on a week’s pay used to calculate certain statutory payments and provisions will rise to £525 (from £508). As a result, the maximum basic award / statutory redundancy payment will be £15,750 from April.
  • Statutory sick pay will increase to £94.25 per week (from £92.05) from April 6, 2019.
  • Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £145.18 to £146.68 per week from April 7, 2019.
  • Maternity allowance will increase to £146.68 from April 8, 2019.
Shreya Bhattacharya
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shreya Bhattacharya
A labor and employment lawyer at Replicon who specializes in global compliance. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. Replicon is an industry leader in global compliance and has a dedicated team which pro-actively monitors international labor regulations for ensuring proper adherence with specific country rule requirements.
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