In recent years, the compliance with labour regulations applied when posting workers within the EU in connection to the provision of services has come under scrutiny of inspection authorities and in this respect, not even the Czech Republic is behind. Since 2019, Labour Inspection Offices have even started to perform systematic inspections in this area. Which obligations specifically do the Labour Inspection Offices examine?
The obligations related to the cross-border posting of workers can, in a simplified way, be subdivided into obligations to ensure a certain minimum standard in the area of working conditions for the posted workers, and administrative obligations such as the obligation to perform certain formal acts with respect to authorities or the obligation to maintain or have available certain documentation concerning the posted worker.
The basic working conditions the workers are entitled to include for example the minimum/guaranteed wage, maximum working time or a minimum length of leave per calendar year. This listing has been extended by last year’s amendment to the Czech Labour Code in response to the amendment to the European directive by e.g. obligatory extra pay, conditions of accommodation and reimbursement of travel expenses. The working conditions under Czech law apply to the posted workers only if these are more convenient than the working conditions under the law of their home country, regardless of the length of the posting. In contrast, the length of the posting may have an effect on the extent of the working conditions that have to be ensured for the workers.
A specific area that has to be paid special attention to is the remuneration of posted workers. When comparing the remuneration paid to the posted workers under the law of their home country and the remuneration they are entitled to according to Czech law, the employers have to take account of – as mentioned above – not only the amount of minimum wage or respective amount of guaranteed wage, but also the parameters of all extra pays the posted workers may be entitled to depending on specific circumstances of the work performance (e.g. night work or overtime). When preparing payroll budgets, the employers posting a worker within the EU should in any case keep in mind that the payroll costs may increase. The employers should also set timely internal policies reflecting the impacts of the posting on the extent of workers’ minimum guaranteed rights as well as efficient procedures for carrying out administrative obligations.
As regards administrative obligations, an employer posting an employee primarily has to inform the respective regional branch of the Labour Office of the Czech Republic that a worker has started working in the Czech Republic in writing no later than on the date of this event. Furthermore, the employer has to report potential changes or termination of the posting unless it is terminated as of the originally announced date. The posting employer also has to keep a register of posted workers at the workplace and copies of documents proving the existence of an employment relationship, e.g. a copy of an employment contract.
Cooperation of inspection authorities and Labour Offices in the inspections
Given the increasing number of posted workers from abroad, the Labour Inspection Offices initiated systematic inspection in this area. This fact found expression in the inclusion of inspections of labour law compliance with respect to the posting of workers in the supervisory activity of labour inspection authorities in 2019 and in the continued supervisory activity in the following years. The Labour Inspection Office’s inspections are in practice facilitated by a close cooperation with regional branches of the Labour Office of the Czech Republic in this area, mainly in respect of the selection of employers suitable for inspections. The Labour Inspection Offices, in fact, make use of information provided to them by the Labour Offices, since the Inspection Offices have a list available of workers from abroad supposed to perform work in the Czech Republic thanks to some information obligations towards the Labour Office. At the same time, the Labour Inspection Offices are not discouraged from performing inspections by the fact that the inspected person is usually the posting employer with its registered seat abroad, which to a certain extent complicates the delivery of documents to such an employer.
With regard to the imposition of sanctions, for example, a case when an employer failed to keep copies of respective documentation at the workplace in 2020 resulted in the imposition of a total of 232 fines in an aggregate amount of CZK 3,559,000, and for the breach of the information obligation towards the regional branches of the Labour Office in the Czech Republic, the Inspection Offices imposed a total of 284 fines totalling CZK 4,167,600 in the same year. Even though these are aggregate statistics that include administrative obligations resulting from the employment of foreign nationals, it is clear that the Inspection Offices actively monitor the compliance with these obligations and impose fines in case of breaches.