An amendment to the Labor Code, which will come into force on 23 August 2013, introduces new rules regarding "settlement periods" and working time schedules. It also enacts so-called “flexible working time” - formalizing in law what has in fact already been applied in practice.
A "settlement period" is the measurement for determining whether an employer has fulfilled certain working time obligations. In particular, an employer is obliged to observe an average five-day working week in the adopted settlement period and ensure that the total weekly working time (including overtime hours) does not exceed an average of 48 hours.
In addition, “weekly overtime work” can be measured at the end of a "settlement period". For example, at the end of a "settlement period" an employer can ascertain whether extra hours worked on Saturday has been compensated by another day off during the same settlement period. Consequently, the longer the settlement period extends, the more flexibility an employer will have in planning working time and compensating overtime.
This is an important change for employers as under the existing regulations, "settlement periods" were relatively short. For example, in the basic working time system such a period generally could not exceed 4 months.
In contrast, the new regulations state that a settlement period in any working time system can be extended up to 12 months. This means it will be possible to plan intensive work (e.g. working 6 days a week) in a busy season and compensate it with fewer hours of work in the remaining part of the same "settlement period" (e.g. reducing to 4 working days a week).
Additionally, employers will be allowed to prepare working time schedules of not less than 1 month for periods shorter than the applied "settlement period".
There is also an important change to flexible working time requirements. The new law enables employees to request different times for starting work on different days. For example, an employee may choose to start work at8:00 a.m. on one day and 10.00 a.m. on the next day. This arrangement can be implemented without the risk of overtime work which might otherwise arise due to the fact that work had commenced twice in the same 24 hour period.
Please note - implementing the above solutions requires trade union consent, if a trade union is present at the company. If there are no trade unions, these types of arrangements should be agreed with employee representatives elected especially for this purpose. By exception, it is possible to implement the flexible working time system without those formalities but only in circumstances where an employee applies for it in writing.