Unified Labour Register comes into operation

A new Unified Labour Register (known as EMMA) came into operation in Hungary on 1 May 2004. The new system, run by the Public Employment Service, contains information on approximately 2.5 million employees and more than 300,000 employers. All employers must now register new employees before they start work and provide information on matters such as pay rates and working hours. The idea behind the new system is to make the labour market more transparent by making relevant data accessible to employers, employees and the authorities.

The new Hungarian Unified Labour Database (Egységes Magyar Munkaügyi Adatbázis, EMMA), which is expected to help make the labour market more transparent, started operations on 1 May 2004. Apart from concerns about growing undeclared employment, the introduction of the new system is justified by the fact that since 1992, when the old-style employment records (the 'work-book' or Munkakönyv) inherited from the state-socialist regime was abolished, there has been no reliable information on people’s employment history and on the current employment situation. There was therefore an urgent need for an up-to-date system that provides not only the authorities but also employees and employers with appropriate labour market information.

According to Act XCIV of 2003, the legal basis of the new system, the register serves four main aims:

  • to create transparency in the labour market;
  • to improve legal security;
  • to make the work of the Hungarian Labour Inspectorate (Országos Munkabiztonsági és Munkaügyi Felügyelet, OMMF) more efficient; and
  • to meet EU requirements regarding data provision.

Moreover, the register, replacing the earlier, less reliable survey-based estimates, will also be a useful source of precise statistical data on the labour market.

EMMA, the new system, covers approximately 2.5 million employees and over 300,000 employers in both the private sector and state- and local government-owned companies. It contains important information on the identity of both employers and employees, as well as some basic information about the employment contract, such as the individually agreed basic wage rate, the working hours, the required qualifications, and the dates of commencement and termination of employment. The system is operated by the Public Employment Service (Állami Foglalkoztatási Szolgálat, ÁFSZ) through access points in 20 county job centres, 173 local offices and 9 regional training centres.

The initial EMMA dataset was uploaded with the help of the Central Administration of National Pension Insurance (Országos Nyugdíjbiztosítási Igazgatóság, ONYF) and the National Health Insurance Fund (Országos Egészségügyi Pénztár, OEP), including profiles of all those who were in employment up to 1 May 2004. After this date all employers are required to register all newly-hired employees before they start work. This can be done by personal declaration via mail, internet or telephone. The termination of contracts must also be registered. The system's data security is assured: both employees and employers have access to their own database through a PIN code provided by the registry office upon request.

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