Combining employment with motherhood and parenthood, as well as the ever-increasing demand of graduates for work-life balance were reflected in the latest amendment to the Labour Code. From this year on, employees can share positions and employers can benefit from government financial support if they create such a shared position.
This accommodating change in employment relations was brought by the so-called major amendment to the Labour Code which introduced the concept of job sharing effective from January 2021. The innovation allows two or more employees to share one position upon agreement with the employer and to take turns in the respective position within their working hours. The employer might have already achieved a similar arrangement earlier by employing more employees with shorter working hours to do the same work. However, shared positions are still more flexible, as employees schedule their own working hours based on mutual agreement.
A job might be shared by employees with the same type of work and shorter working hours which in total will not exceed the set weekly working hours. Good relationships between the employees and trust of the employer are preconditions if the shared position is to work. Employees must schedule their shared working hours in such a manner that, on average, all of them will meet their weekly amount of working hours in a balancing period which cannot be longer than four weeks. This schedule must be submitted to the employer at least one week in advance. If the employees do not do so, the working hours schedule will be determined by the employer. The employer must be notified of any potential changes to the schedule in writing at least two days in advance. The employees thus cannot arbitrarily step in for each other at the last minute. In the event of absence of one of the employees, they do not even have to step in for each other. The employer may require an employee to substitute an absent colleague only on the basis of an agreement with the respective employee.
The agreement on a shared position can be easily terminated by a written agreement or notice of termination without specifying a reason with a 15-day notice period. If one employee’s obligation ceases to exist, the shared position arrangement will apply to the other employees until the end of the current balancing period. The termination of a shared position does not affect the employment duration of other employees concerned. In some respects, the employer must act individually in relation to employees in one shared position. All employees are entitled to their own salary and time off and bear the responsibility for any damage they cause individually.
The introduction of a shared position can be rather challenging for employers. It requires at least the conclusion of written agreements with the individual employees. Within these agreements, employers should, in particular, regulate the practical arrangements of the shared position, such as the way tasks are assigned and delegated between the individual employees, and more detailed conditions for scheduling working hours between the employees. Shared positions should be appropriately regulated by an internal regulation. Unlike agreements, the rules stipulated by internal regulations can be flexibly and unilaterally changed by the employer.
Shared positions may potentially contribute to increasing the flexibility of employment relations. They can be a solution, for example, for parents of young children or for people who cannot or do not want to have a full-time job. The application of shared positions in practice will depend on the willingness and ability of employers to cope with the administration. They could find motivation in the new project of the Labour Office of the Czech Republic called “Flexi”, from which they can receive a contribution for the creation of such a position.
The article was published in Hospodářské noviny on 9 April 2021. (edited)