Weekly newsletter

Healthcare Workers Refusing to Sign New Contract Turn to Constitutional Court

Ábrahám Vass 2021.05.21.

Doctors and nurses who refused to sign new contracts in March will turn to the Constitutional Court (AB). They say they have received less severance payment than they should have as civil servants.

Hungarian healthcare workers had to sign a new contract by March 1st in order to be able to continue working in public care. While the new law (and the new contracts) grant a roughly 120% salary increase to doctors in Hungary in three steps, it also criminalizes gratuities. Moreover, it implements much stricter working conditions, a lower hourly wage for on-call, nights, weekend, and holiday shifts, and also bans second jobs. In addition, nurses or ambulance workers haven’t received any kind of notable wage increase, despite having signed the new contract.

As a result, many are criticizing the new stipulations (implemented amid a peaking third wave), while there were around 3,500-5,000 professionals (some 3.5-4%) who eventually refused to sign the new contract, thereby leaving healthcare. They now argue that they have received severance pay for one to three months, although as civil servants, they could have received an amount equivalent to eight months’ salary, depending on the length of their employment.

Therefore, the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) together with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, prepared a joint petition that those affected could fill out and hand in to the Constitutional Court. Although they could do so individually, the AB is expected to merge the cases.

According to the president of the Hungarian Chamber of Health Care Professionals (MESZK), severance pay should have been settled according to the former civil servant status. However, for those refusing to sign the new contract, a one-off legislation was introduced under which they eventually received lower compensation. Zoltán Balogh hopes the AB will issue a statement later this year.

featured image illustration via Tamás Vasvári/MTI