You are no doubt aware that the act implementing the EU Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions (‘WTVA’) was introduced on 1 August 2022.
The act states that all employment contracts must contain transparent and predictable working conditions. It is therefore sensible to take a look at your employment contracts and staff handbook and make changes where necessary.
How does the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Act change things?
The act implementing the EU Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions brings a number of changes to employment law. The five key changes are set out below:
1. wider information obligations
2. reference period for unpredictable working hours
3. limitation of the prohibition of ancillary activities
4. provision of free training
5. ability to request more predictable and more certain working conditions.
1. Wider information obligations
As an employer, you were already obliged to inform the employee at the start of the contract about matters such as the place of work, the duration of the employment contract and the usual working hours. The legal change effective on 1 August 2022 adds a number of new obligations. For example, from now on you must inform your employees about:
- their entitlement to paid leave (e.g. emergency or maternity leave)
- the duration of the notice period or the method of calculating it
- the normal (daily or weekly) working hours
- the right to training (if applicable)
- the various procedural aspects on termination of the employment contract.
You must also:
- provide details of individual wage components (such as bonuses or allowances), and
- state whether the employee will perform the work at different locations or will be free to decide where to work.
As an employer, you must not only provide more information, but you must also do so faster – in most cases no later than a week after commencement of employment. For existing employment contracts, you must provide this information within one month if an employee requests it.
It is therefore important to check whether all this information is included in your employment contracts, the staff handbook and/or the collective labour agreement and to make any necessary changes in good time.
2. Unpredictable working hours: information about the reference period
The second change is mainly relevant to on-call contracts, but can also apply to an employee with a fixed amount of work but largely unpredictable working hours.
If an employee’s working hours are wholly or largely unpredictable, you must point this out in writing and inform the employee of the days and hours during which they can be called up (the reference period). If you call up your employee outside this reference period, they are permitted to refuse the call. If this applies to your employees, it is important to include the reference period in the employment contract.
3. Limitation of the prohibition of ancillary activities
If your employee performs ancillary activities in addition to their employment with your company, you can no longer prohibit this without objective justification. Such grounds include protecting the health of the employee, complying with the law on working hours, avoiding conflicts of interest and protecting confidential company information.
If you use an ancillary activities clause, make sure it has been worded correctly and make any necessary changes in good time. It is also important to think in advance about the objective grounds that might justify application of the clause.
4. Training and consequences for the study costs clause
As a result of the change in the law, you must from now on offer compulsory training free of charge and allow time for this within working hours. If the latter proves impossible, you must continue to pay the employee during the hours in which they take part in training.
This concerns training that is compulsory according to the law or the collective labour agreement. Examples include Code 95 for professional drivers or obtaining a forklift truck certificate.
This compulsory training also includes training that is necessary for an employee to perform their job or to be redeployed internally. For example, if an employee speaks poor English (and this is required for their job) or is no longer able to perform their job due to technological developments, they must be offered a course free of charge.
This excludes in principle any training required to obtain a qualification that the employee needs in order to perform the job at commencement of employment.
The above may have consequences for any study costs clause that has already been agreed with the employee. If you are obliged to offer the training free of charge and you nevertheless agree a study costs clause, this clause will be null and void.
5. More predictable working conditions
Finally, the Flexible Working Act has been amended. As a result of this amendment, an employee can ask the employer for more predictable and more certain working conditions. This could include a request for fixed working hours. As an employer, you must respond to such a request in writing within one month. The law does not specify when you must grant such a request and when you are allowed to reject it.
Do you need help with amending your ancillary activities clause, study costs clause and/or employment contracts?
If you need support with screening and amending your contracts, we will be happy to help you! For more information about the WTVA or for our WTVA check (at a fixed price), please contact us or any of the other employment lawyers.