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Global employment law briefing: Hungary, June 2017

  • Hungary
  • Employment law


Recent changes to Hungarian employment law

Changes to protections for pregnant workers

A decision of the Hungarian Constitutional Court some time ago strengthened the protection against dismissal for pregnant employees and those undergoing fertility treatment. Where either circumstance applies, the employer may not issue notice of termination of employment. Prior to this Court decision, the provisions provided that the employee would only be protected from dismissal in these circumstances if she had notified her employer that she was pregnant or embarking on fertility treatment before the notice was issued.

From 1 January 2017, new provisions reflecting the court’s approach were introduced in to the Labour Code. Accordingly, the Labour Code now provides there is no obligation on an employee to inform her employer about her pregnancy or fertility treatment in order to be protected from dismissal. As a result, employees who are unaware of pregnancy are also now protected from dismissal but, furthermore, the right to a private life is preserved since employees will not be disadvantaged by choosing if or when to disclose pregnancy or fertility treatment. However, to protect employers who give notice of termination in ignorance of these circumstances, the new provision also provides that the employer may withdraw the dismissal within 15 days of being informed by the employee of pregnancy or treatment.

Dismissal protection for fathers caring for their child has also improved. Those on unpaid leave is extended so that they are protected against dismissal in the same way as mothers.

Extended rest periods

Provisions relating to compulsory rest periods have been extended in favour of employees from 1 January 2017.

The Labour Code provides for a daily rest period of at least 11 hours of continuous rest but under the revised provisions, this period may be reduced by one hour if it falls at the beginning of the summertime i.e. to a minimum of 10 hours.

Where an employee is engaged in shift work (such as split shifts, continuous shifts, multiple shifts) or in a seasonal role, the minimum period of uninterrupted rest between shifts is 8 hours (followed by compensatory rest). The new provision also clarifies here that, at the beginning of summertime, this period may reduce to 7 hours minimum.

A more significant change arises in respect of compensatory rest. Under the new provision, workers on consecutive shifts who receive less than their 11 hours of rest in a 24 hour period must nonetheless have at least 22 hours rest over two consecutive days’ of work.

Significant increases to minimum wages

A mandatory minimum wage is paid to an employee who works full-time but a guaranteed wage minimum is paid to an employee who works full time and who has completed secondary education or who works in a position which requires secondary educational skills.

In 2016, the mandatory minimum wage was HUF 111,000 gross (approx. EUR 358) and the guaranteed wage minimum was HUF 129,000 gross (approx. EUR 416).

From 1 January 2017, the mandatory minimum wage rose by approximately 15% to HUF 127,000 (approx. EUR 410) and the guaranteed minimum wage by approximately 25% to HUF 161,250 (approx. EUR 520).

New public holiday

Good Friday became a public holiday in Hungary, starting from this year, April 14, 2017. Since Easter Monday has already been a national holiday, going forwards Easter will now be a four-day holiday for most of the employees