Employment contracts must contain essential elements of the employment relationship, including:
• worker’s and employer’s name;
• place of work;
• job description;
• working hours and their schedule;
• contract duration;
• the procedure for terminating the contract by the employer and by the worker, and the respective periods of notice;
• the amount of the wage and how it is paid;
• the duration of paid annual leave.
The wage, notice periods, working hours and annual leave can also be agreed upon in a collective agreement, regulated by employment rules or stipulated by law. In that case, employment contracts must contain a provision that refers to the relevant statutes which must, naturally, be made available to workers.
Employers must register workers for pension and health insurance before they start working. A copy of the registration must be given to them within eight days.
Furthermore, an employment contract can be signed with an employment agency. Such agencies deal with assigning workers to other companies, which is another word for ‘renting’ workers out. Contracts with employment agencies are subject to additional legal provisions.
The Labour Act stipulates that employment contracts must be concluded for an indefinite period.
An open-ended employment contract is valid as long as this is the shared will of the worker and the employer. It can be terminated if either party violates its obligations or if there is no more need or possibility to carry out the work.
If employers terminate an open-ended employment contract, they must have a valid explanation for this and they must comply with the prescribed termination procedure and the provisions on the notice period and severance pay.
Workers can terminate an open-ended employment contract for any reason but must comply with the stipulated notice period.
A fixed-term employment contract is permitted only exceptionally: in situations where the need for the work is temporary and when it is known in advance why the employment relationship should end on a certain date. This can be, for example, because that is the end-date for a project or because a person who has been temporarily replaced by the worker has returned to work.
It is not warranted to use a fixed-term employment contract for the purpose of probation!
The probationary period is provided for by the Labour Act as a specific part of open-ended employment. It should be stipulated through special provisions of the employment contract and can last no longer than six months. During the probationary period, employers can terminate the contract at any time if they consider that workers do not meet the requirements of the job.
Any subsequent fixed-term contract (a second, third consecutive, etc.) can only be concluded if there are objective reasons which must be clearly stated in the contract. Only three fixed-term contracts can be concluded with the same worker, while the total duration of all consecutive fixed-term employment contracts with a single employer must not exceed three years.
Workers employed on fixed-term employment contracts have the right to the same working conditions as workers employed for an indefinite period.
Employers must inform workers, before the latter start working, about the regulations related to the employment relationship, the organisation of work and the protection of health and safety at work. Many issues concerning workers’ rights and work organisation are not regulated only by the Labour Act and the employment contract but also by employment rules (adopted by employers) or by collective agreements (concluded between trade unions and employers). These are important documents that must be available to workers and workers must be familiar with their content in order to know how to protect their rights.
Only when organised in a union can workers collectively bargain with the employer about their wages and working conditions and organise strike action if they cannot agree with the employer on these issues.