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Factsheet for measure HU-2020-12/659 Updated – measures in Hungary

New working arrangements (eg. telework) due to pandemic

Rendkívüli munkavégzési feltételek (pl. home office) lehetővé tétele a járvány alatt

Country Hungary , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 19 March 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Changes of working hours or work arrangements
Author Nóra Krokovay (KOPINT-Tárki) and Eurofound
Measure added 16 April 2020 (updated 15 June 2022)

Background information

Under Section 6 of the government decree 47/2020 (18 March), the employer may deviate from the Labour Code or from any part of an existing collective agreement in making new working arrangements involving working schedules, ordering employees to work remotely (home office) and in any other aspect necessary in connection with health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The aim of the measure is to allow the employer to make flexible changes in work conditions rather than lay off workers in the adverse economic climate of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Content of measure

The measure applies to all employees working under the legal status regulated by the Labour Code (Act. 1/2012). The employer can change working arrangements, for example order remote work unilaterally. The employer may carry out any measures necessary to ensure the worker’s health and safety during the pandemic. The employer and the employee can make any new arrangement by agreement even if it contradicts the provisions of the Labour Code. Some of the more important issues experienced by workers during the COVID crisis are the options available to the employer for sending employees home and paying reduced wages or none at all. In human services-heavy sectors where work has become impossible, unpaid leave or "standby" status are common.

Updates

The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

10 January 2022

In December 2021, the temporary legislation was lifted into Act I/2012 on the Labour Code as permanent legislation through Government Decree 813/2021. Technically the temporary law is still in force until the state of pandemic emergency is over (currently 18 June 2022) and the new law is in effect from 1 June 2022. At the same time the passages related to teleworking in decree 487/2020 were also included in Act 93/1993 on work health and safety effective 1 January 2022.

30 September 2021

The state of danger has been extended several times, the latest end-date under Act 102/2021 is 1 January 2022. Teleworking measures under the pandemic apply until that date.

11 November 2020

Under new legislation published in November 2020 (Govt decree 487/2020), rules pertaining to teleworking, commonly known as home office during the COVID-19 pandemic were laid out. For the period of state of danger (until 8 February 2021),

  • the rules laid out in the Labour Code on telework agreements do not apply, instead these working arrangements are by individual agreement between the employer and employee.
  • employers can optionally pay compensation to employees for their costs stemming from working from home, as a flat amount up to 10% of the minimum wage (currently at HUF 16,000 or €44 a month) or reimburse invoices as per agreement.*the rules of work safety temporarily will not apply, employees are notified on the current rules by their employer.

Use of measure

Some 2-3% of employees were involved in teleworking before COVID-19. This jumped to 17% or 750,000 in May 2020 and dropped back to 5.3% in August 2020. In March 2021, one year after the initial outbreak, teleworking went up to 16% and in May 2021 dropped to 9%. Some 300,000 said they worked from home regularly and 450,000 occasionally. The overall rate was 3.6% in Hungary, but 74% among the high skilled. There is a higher representation of teleworking among women and in cities, according to an official of the Ministry for Information and Technology (9 July 2021).

In averages of three months’ in 2021, the rates were as follows, according to data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH).

  • January-March: 12.84%
  • February-April: 13.41%
  • March-May: 12.98%
  • April-June: 10.60%
  • May-July: 8.70%
  • June-August: 7.24%
  • July-September: 6.52%
  • August-October: 6.24%
  • September-November: 7.05%

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Company / Companies
Employees
Employer

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Informed Informed
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

Social partners were not consulted, but trade union confederations have signed a joint statement protesting this new measure, arguing that it is putting too much of the economic burden suffered from COVID-19 on employees.

Unions and employer organisations had held talks and made proposals for the new telework regulations, but the new legislation is still not on the agenda of the government. Trade union confederation MASZSZ and the Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers (VOSZ) both voiced concern that the bill - flagged for the autumn of 2020 - was still unprepared. VOSZ said that a lack of clear legislation in this respect will make it less likely that companies can grow and keep their employees.

Views and reactions

In July 2020, LIGA trade union confederation said teleworking and remote work should be regulated as part of the Labour Code and they should apply for all kinds of telework, not just computer-based ones. They did not agree that work from home should be unilaterally ordered by the employer and would also set a higher limit for the monthly compensation payable. The new regulations published in November did not meet unions' expectations, they want to make monthly compensation compulsory. The VDSZ trade union said the biggest problem was that rules about telework and remote work overlap and are confusing. VDSZ repeated its calls in March 2021 for support for parents who stay at home because of school lockdowns. Under current temporary regulations, parents can stay at home if the employer agrees, but no compensation is paid. Holidays can be taken but only at the expense of their regular holidays. Four trade union confederations have complained in a joint call that the measure creates new kinds of “dependencies” for the worker, as the employer has gained too much flexibility in the arrangement of working conditions. By temporarily suspending the protections laid down in the Labour Code, the measure puts disproportionate burdens on employees which should not be the aim of this regulation, they said.

These four trade union confederations are as follows:

  1. Liga - Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions
  2. ÉSZT - Trade Union of Professionals
  3. MASZ - Hungarian Trade Union Confederation
  4. SZEF - Trade Unions' Forum for Cooperation

Sources

  • 18 March 2020: Government decree 47/2020 (EN)
  • 23 March 2020: Trade unions: measures of solidarity with employees needed (joint statement) (www.szakszervezet.net)
  • 11 November 2020: Govt decree 487/2020
  • 12 November 2020: New rules of telework under pandemic (www.pwc.com)
  • 12 November 2020: Unions: New telework rules are a scam (merce.hu)
  • 14 December 2020: Home office: the government thinks current regulations enough (magyarnarancs.hu)
  • 17 March 2021: Home office is on shaky grounds (nepszava.hu)

Citation

Eurofound (2020), New working arrangements (eg. telework) due to pandemic, measure HU-2020-12/659 (measures in Hungary), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/HU-2020-12_659.html

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