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Trade Unions: Employers Rarely ‘Use’ Overtime Bill’s Benefits

Ábrahám Vass 2019.12.16.

Besides certain, rather rare cases, application of the much-debated overtime bill, a.k.a. the “slave law,” has not at all become a common practice, a recent report of economic investigative site G7 showed, in reference to feedback from the trade unions.

The legislation that drew demonstrations and loud protests has, in brief, two cornerstones: firstly, employers would only have to compensate employees for overtime every three years instead of every 12 months. Within this period, the employer is, more or less, free to yo-yo with the employee’s hours. It however, needs a new collective agreement, okay-ed by the trade union.

Most of the unions haven’t experienced even one case of the application of this point, except for Vasas Trade Union, whose vice president Zoltán László stated recently that machinery manufacturer Hauni implemented it in order to avoid redundancies in their Pécs factory.

While the second point is briefly about the extension of the upper threshold for annual overtime from 250 to 400 hours. In this matter, G7 notes, employers and employees need to agree individually, as a result, trade unions, whose coverage, grasp, and influence are rather weak in Hungary, have only limited information.

Vice chair of the trade unions confederation (MaSzSz) stated that the application of the 400 hours of overtime limit is rather uncommon for large companies in the business sector, while they have no information coming in from smaller companies. He added that due to labor shortages, companies tend not to force anything on their staff, in addition to reducing production in some areas that also make overtime needless.

Expert of LIGA trade union umbrella organization, László Kozák, spoke about similar experiences, revealing that extensions are in use mostly where the annual overtime frame has been exhausted- there is no report that anywhere it would have been forced.

In retail, he said, however, this wasn’t the case. Companies tend to apply the 400-hour framework and employees tend to accept it mostly where the salaries are generally low.

featured image: illustration; via MTI/Zoltán Máthé