- Response to COVID-19
- Working time flexibility
Allocated cumulative working time (working time bank)
All companies which have requirements for ad-hoc tasks or tasks which are not equally distributed throughout the year.
In accordance with the labour code the employer may determine employees' working time in a flexible way. This means that the duration of an individual's working time may be arranged in such a way as to suit the requirements of the company, however it cannot be less than four hours or more than 12 hours daily.
A maximum of four months or 16 weeks of cumulative working time (or working time bank) of the employees can be allocated (by any employer). Working under allocated cumulative working time means that the employee should accrue the same amount of working hours as a standard work week, but across an extended period. If the employee has accrued more hours worked than the standard working time by the end of the established period, that will be counted as overtime. If the working time of an employee is only distributed unevenly (so that sometimes the person works for more than 12 hours) but at the end of the established period the employee has not accrued more working hours than the standard working time, then no overtime is counted.
Working time banking can be extended to as much as a period of 6 months or 26 weeks when certain requirements are met. This includes employers/employees involved in:
- shift work;
- seasonal work;
- on-call work, or
- The transport sector.
Employee approval is not necessary to establish a working time bank scheme.
Moreover, if any employer (except those meeting the requirements for the 26-week extension) has a collective agreement with a trade union which has agreed that an extended working time bank period is required for the continued operation of the business, an extension to 36 months can be granted (before 2019, this extension limit was 12 months). The company must be able to independently prove that such an extension is required due to the technical or operational structure of the company and in accordance with the law.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has proclaimed a ‘state of danger’, a type of special legal order, which was in effect from 11 March to 17 June 2020. In this context, they also introduced new temporary provisions (decree 104/2020) allowing employers to set the working time banking period – or raise a previously set period – to 24 months during the emergency. The measure was designed to make working arrangements more flexible for the employer to help protect jobs in companies where business has shut down or work reduced due to the pandemic. This meant that the rules set out in the labour code capping the working time banking period at 4 months (or 6 months in some professions) no longer applied.
The labour code (modified in late 2018) had allowed the working time banking period to be raised to 36 months only by collective agreement. Now employers can use this method of working time arrangement for up to 24 months without signing or modifying a collective agreement. An employer who is unable to give work to the employee during the pandemic period will continue to pay full wages, but can order extended working hours to make up for the loss when business returns to normal.
On 18 June 2020 the ‘state of danger’ and the regulations relying on it were revoked. However, Act LVIII on post-emergency transitional regulations and pandemic readiness leaves two exceptions to the general rules of the labour code regarding working time banking. First, longer periods set either uni- or bilaterally during the state of danger shall, by default, persist until their expiry. Second, employers may apply for special permission to set a working time bank of up to 24 months in case of investments creating new workplaces and bearing crucial importance to the national economy. Case handling is delegated to the Békés County Government Office.
- No specific funding required
Legal framework. Békés County Government Office (authority on extended working time bank applications).
Employer or employee organisations
Collective agreements may be arranged for longer periods.
No information available.
There are many sectors (e.g. tourism, manufacturing, and the services industry) where it is useful to apply this method as it provides flexibility for the employer. The system is an important tool in managing the working time as well as the labour costs. The system gives flexibility for the employers because they can better organise employees' working time, better manage human resources and reduce undue personal expenses. It should also be able to help employers weather times of economic recession, such as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It can be unpleasant for employees as their workload and wages keep changing. Moreover, it increases the administrative costs of the company because the hours worked by the employees must be recorded.
Allowing employers to raise the period of allocated cumulative working time to 24 months in cases related to the COVID-19 emergency has been contested by the trade unions. According to trade unions, this new measure 'ties' the employee to the company for two years, if work is not available now, it would have to be made up for in coming years. Regarding the emergency legislation, the VDSZ union recommended using the working time banking system until 31 December 2020 only, and said that the measure would not prevent any job cuts. The MASZSZ union criticised the post-emergency bill for a lack of coordination with stakeholders; for violating Directive 2003/88/EC that would only allow 12 month reference periods at most; for letting the government resolve individual cases without asking either employees or unions; as well as for the obscurity of the conditions regarding the interests of the national economy.