An employee’s entitlement to leave is one of the basic conditions of employment. The leave serves mainly for rest and recovery of workers without loss of their regular income. In response to the growing number of questions that arise during our consultancy work, we provide some basic information below.
Issues relating to leave are regulated by Sections 100 to 117 of Law No. 311/2001 Coll., the Labour Code, as amended (the ‘Labour Code’). The legislative provisions on rest leave distinguish between three types of leave:
- annual leave or a proportionate part thereof,
- leave for days worked
- additional leave
The Labour Code clearly stipulates that the statutory leave entitlement is a minimum of 4 weeks. The annual leave of an employee who will have attained at least 33 years of age by the end of the calendar year in question shall be at least 5 weeks.
The leave entitlement belongs to every employee, who has worked at least 60 days in the calendar year concerned.
If you are new to the company, e.g. you joined on 1 June, you are entitled to a leave for days worked of one-twelfth of the annual leave for every 21 days worked.
Example: Maria started working on 1. 6. 2014. After the first month (after completing 21 days of work), she can take 1.5 days leave in July (20/12 = 1.66 days).
Entitlement to leave when working irregular hours – Section 104 of the Labour Code
In practice, determining the leave entitlement of employees with irregular working hours appears to be a problematic area. For such employees, the employer shall fix the annual leave dates based on the number of working days, to which they are entitled as leave days on an annual average.
Example: For employees with irregular working time, it is necessary to calculate the average number of working days per week in a calendar year (according to the shift schedule). This number shall be multiplied by the number of weeks of the employee’s leave entitlement and the result shall be the total number of working days to which the employee is entitled.
The employee shall take their leave for those days, on which they are scheduled to work according to the shift schedule. The employer shall provide holiday pay for the number of hours equal to the duration of the work shift as determined by the employer. An employee who works a shift of 11.5 hours shall receive a holiday pay for each day of leave in an amount calculated by multiplying the number of hours by the employee’s average hourly earnings. If the employee works a shift of 5 hours, the employer shall grant the employee one day of leave and the employee shall likewise be entitled to holiday pay for that day in an amount equal to the multiple of the number of hours and the employee’s average hourly earnings.
In addition to the statutory leave entitlement per calendar year, employers are obliged to grant additional leave of one week to employees performing certain types of work. Entitled are employees who work underground during the whole calendar year in the extraction of minerals or in tunnelling and digging of adits, and employees who perform particularly difficult or harmful work (for example: permanent work in establishments where patients with contagious tuberculosis are treated). An employee who worked for a part of a calendar year only is also entitled to additional leave. He/she shall be entitled to one-twelfth of the additional leave for every 21 days so worked.
Wage compensation cannot be provided for additional leave not taken. This leave must be taken, and this in the first place.
Holiday plan – Section 111(1) of the Labour Code
The basic rule is that the time, when leave is to be taken, is determined by the employer after consulting the employee according to a holiday plan drawn up with the prior consent of employees’ representatives so that, as a matter of principle, the employee is able to take the leave in full by the end of the calendar year. The employer is obliged to schedule for an employee a period of at least 4 weeks in a calendar year when that employee is to take the annual leave , if they are entitled, and on the condition that the employee is not prevented from taking the leave by obstacles to work on the employee’s side.
When leave is being set, the employer’s tasks and legitimate interests of employees should be taken into account.
If leave is granted in several parts, at least one part must be at least two weeks long, unless the employee agrees otherwise with the employer. The employer must inform the employee of the time when the leave is to be taken at least 14 days in advance. In exceptional cases, this period may be shortened with the employee’s consent, as provided for in Section 111(5) of the Labour Code.
If an employee’s employment commenced during a calendar year and the employee has not yet fulfilled the conditions to be entitled to leave, the employer may order such employee to take a leave, if it can be assumed that the employee will fulfil these conditions by the end of the calendar year in which the leave is to be taken or by the end of the employment relationship, as provided for in Section 113(1) of the Labour Code.
Taking of collective leave – Section 111(3) of the Labour Code
The employer may apply collective leave days, often referred to as company-wide vacation, if it is necessary for operational reasons and only after an agreement with the employees’ representatives. If there are no employees’ representatives, the employer may act independently. The collective leave must not be given for a period of time exceeding two weeks. For serious operational reasons, of which employees must be informed at least 6 months in advance, collective leave may be given for 3 weeks.
Recall from leave – Section 112(1) of the Labour Code
In the event that an employer has recalled an employee from leave, the employer must pay the employee the costs incurred through no fault of the employee as a result of such change or as a result of the employer exercising its right to recall the employee from leave. However, it is a condition that the employee’s leave was demonstrably approved by the employer, which shall be proven by the leave slips. The employer is therefore obliged to reimburse, for example, cancellation fees for a trip booked by the employee, travel expenses incurred in connection with an early return from vacation, etc. This means that the employee should only book a trip after the leave has been approved by the employer (as part of a holiday plan) or agreed with the employer.
Unused leave from previous year – Section 113 of the Labour Code
An employer may order an employee to take a leave even if that employee has not yet fulfilled the conditions for acquiring the leave entitlement, if it can be assumed that the employee will fulfil these conditions by the end of the calendar year in which the leave is to be taken or by the end of the employment relationship.
If an employee is unable to take leave in a calendar year because the employer did not set the period, when it should be taken, or because of an obstacle on the employee’s side preventing that employee from working, the employer shall be obliged to grant the leave to the employee in such a way that it ends no later than the end of the following calendar year. Where the period when leave is to be taken by an employee is not set by the employer by 30 June of the following calendar year at the latest in such a way that the leave is fully taken by the end of that calendar year, the employee may decide when to take the leave. The employee shall inform the employer in writing of the time when the leave will be taken at least 30 days in advance; this period may be shortened with the employer’s consent.
Where an employee is not able to take annual leave until the end of the following calendar year, because he/she is on maternity or parental leave, the employer shall grant the untaken (annual) leave to that employee after the end of the maternity or parental leave.
Where an employee is not able to take annual leave until the end of the following calendar year, because he/she has been declared temporarily incapable of work due to illness or injury, the employer shall grant the untaken (annual) leave to that employee after the end of the employee’s temporary incapacity for work.
Where an employee is unable to take annual leave because they have been released for a long period of time to perform a public function or trade union function, the employer shall grant the untaken leave after the end of the public function or trade union function.
Holiday pay for leave actually taken – Section 116(1) of the Labour Code
Employees shall be entitled to a holiday pay for the statutory leave that they take in the amount of their average earnings.
For the part of the leave exceeding 4 weeks of the basic annual leave, which the employee has not been able to take before the end of the following calendar year, the employee shall be entitled to wage compensation in the amount of his average earnings.
An employee may not be paid wage compensation for 4 weeks of untaken basic annual leave, unless the employee was unable to take the leave due to the termination of employment.
An employee shall be obliged to return the received holiday pay or any part thereof, to which they lost the entitlement or to which they acquired no entitlement.
Reduction of leave – Section 109 of the Labour Code
If an employee has fulfilled the condition of 60 days worked in a calendar year, the employer may reduce the annual leave for the first 100 working days missed by 1/12 and for each additional 21 working days missed by the same 1/12, if the employee did not work in that year, for example, due to sick leave, parental leave or performance of public office. For each shift (working day) missed without a valid excuse, the employer may reduce the annual leave by 1 to 2 days. Unexcused absence from shorter portions of individual shifts (days) shall be cumulative.
An employee who is unable to take leave due to sick leave, maternity or parental leave or because they have been released from work to perform a public or trade union function shall take the leave only after such obstacles preventing them from working have ended. The employer cannot force such employees to take leave during the days mentioned. During the time, when an employee is prevented from working by other obstacles on the employee’s side, the employer may order the employee to take leave only at their request, which is provided for in Section 113(3), (4) and (5) of the Labour Code.
If an employee is denied the right to take leave, i.e. the employer violates the provisions of the Labour Code, the employee has the possibility to file a complaint against the employer with the relevant labour inspectorate, which will investigate the situation. In the event of findings, it shall order the deficiencies to be rectified or impose a financial penalty.