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Implementation of the EU Directives on Work-Life Balance and on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions: Croatia

Implementation of the EU Directives on Work-Life Balance and on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions: Croatia

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The EU Directives on Work-life balance and on Transparent and predictable working conditions were introduced into the Croatian national legislation in January 2023 and brought about significant changes and obligations for employers. What do they mean for businesses?

This report is designed to help companies to understand the requirements and how they have been implemented.

Implementation of EU Directive on Work-Life Balance (EU Directive 2019/1158)

Has the directive been implemented in the jurisdiction?

Yes.

What is the status of the implementation or draft implementation?

Directive 2019/1158 was implemented by the Amendments to the previous Maternal and Parental Benefits Act (Official Gazette no. 85/2022) which entered into force on 01 August 2022, as well as by the new Maternal and Parental Benefits Act (Official Gazette no. 152/2022) which entered into force on 01 January 2023. The rest of the key changes have been implemented by the Amendments to the Labour Act, which also entered into force on 01 January 2023.

What are the key changes for employers and employees?

1.      Paternity leave (“ocinski dopust”) (under the Maternal and Parental Benefits Act)

  • This lasts for 10 days in the case of 1 child being born, and for 15 days in the event of twins, triplets or other multiple births.
  • The leave can be taken before a child reaches 6 months of age.
  • The leave is paid by the state budget at 100% of the employee's compensation rate for the period.
  • The father is obligated to inform the employer at least 15 days in advance of the intended use of paternal leave.

2.      Parental leave (paid) (“roditeljski dopust”)

  • Most of the requirements on parental leave in Directive 2019/1158 were already reflected in previous legislation.
  • Parents are entitled to a maximum of 8 months of parental leave (provided that both parents take a period of parental leave) for the first and second child, and for a maximum of 30 months (provided that both parents take a period of parental leave) for twins, a third child and for every additional child thereafter.
  • Each parent is entitled to 4 months (or to 15 months in case of twins, third child and every additional child thereafter) of parental leave, with the provision that each parent retains 2 months of parental leave that cannot be transferred to the other parent. If only one parent uses parental leave, its maximum duration can be 6 months (or 28 months in case of twins, third child and every additional child thereafter). The recent amendments to the maternal and parental benefits legislation have introduced more flexibility to the use of parental leave, which parents can now use individually, simultaneously or alternately, according to personal agreement.
  • Leave can be granted at once or in parts, provided that if used in parts it is used at most twice a year for a minimum duration of 30 days.
  • The leave is paid up to a maximum amount of EUR 995.44 per month.
  • It can be used when the child is aged between 6 months and 8 years.

3.      Carers’ leave (“dopust za pružatelje skrbi”) (Amendments to the Labour Act)

  • This leave to take care of a family member or other person living in the same household is a new right.
  • It is unpaid.
  • It allows up to 5 days’ leave in a calendar year.

4.      Protection (Amendments to the Labour Act)

  • During periods of leave or while using rights related to parenthood, employees are protected from their employment being terminated.
  • In a case of a court dispute, if the employee makes it probable that the use of rights related to parenthood was the reason for a termination of employment, the burden of proof falls on the employer.

5.      Time off from work due to force majeure (Amendments to the Labour Act)

  • This allows leave of 1 working day, once in a calendar year, in cases of unforeseen circumstances.
  • It can be used when, due to a particularly important and urgent family reason caused by illness or accident, the employee’s immediate presence is absolutely necessary. Flexible working arrangements, additional rights (Amendments to the Labour Act)
  • A pregnant woman, a parent with a child aged up to 8 years and an employee who works part-time due to the use of rights related to parenthood, may upon their written voluntary consent, work irregular hours that are subject to change.
  • An employee with a child of up to 8 years of age and an employee who provides personal care to an immediate family member or a person living in the same household, provided that this employee has spent 6 months with the employer in an employment relationship, can request from the employer a temporary amendment to the employment contract that changes the contracted full-time working hours to part-time, i.e. request a change or adjustment of the working time schedule, due to his/her personal needs. The employer is obligated to consider such request and answer in writing within 15 days.
  • Due to harmonising work and family-related personal needs, an employee may request remote work due to (i) health protection due to a diagnosed illness or established disability, (ii) pregnancy or parental obligations to children up to the age of 8 and (iii) providing personal care that, due to serious health reasons, is needed by a member of the immediate family or is needed by a person who lives in the same household. The employer is obligated to consider such request and answer in writing within 15 days.

What are the main actions for HR departments in preparing for the changes?

  • Review and revise internal labour documentation such as:
    • Work regulations and remuneration regulations;
    • Offboarding procedure (if such exists);
    • Other employment policies and practices applicable to employees with relation to their parental entitlements;
    • Templates of other documentation concerning e.g. consents to work in overtime or to be sent on business trips;
    • Application forms required to apply for new leaves/releases.
  • Training to acquaint HR colleagues with the new rules.

Implementation of EU Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions (EU Directive 2019/1152)

Has the directive been implemented in the jurisdiction?     

Yes.

What is the status of the implementation or draft implementation?

Some of the requirements of the Directive 2019/1152 were already reflected in the previously existing legislation, whereas the remaining were implemented by the Amendments to the Labour Act which entered into force on 1 January 2023.

What are the key changes for employers and employees?

1.      Probationary period

  • The probationary period may last no longer than 6 months.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the probationary period may last longer if during its duration the employee was temporarily absent (especially due to temporary incapacity for work, use of maternity and parental rights and use of the right to paid leave). In this case, the probationary period can be extended correspondingly, in relation to the duration of the absence, so that the total duration of the probationary period cannot be longer than 6 months.
  • If the employment contract is concluded for a fixed term, the duration of the probationary period must be proportionate to the expected duration of the contract and the nature of the work.
  • After the termination of the concluded employment contract in which the probationary period was agreed, the parties cannot recontract the probationary period when entering into a new employment contract for the performance of the same work.

2.      Obligation to provide information

  • Before work starts, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with a copy of the employment contract and with a copy of the application for mandatory pension and health insurance within 8 days of the deadline for applying for mandatory insurance according to a special regulation.

3.      Additional employment

  • An employee who is employed and works full-time with 1 main employer or works part-time with several employers so that his or her total working time is 40 hours per week, can work additionally for another employer with some exceptions (e.g. jobs with special working conditions).
  • The main employer can ask the employee to stop additional work, provided there are objective reasons for such a request, especially if it is contrary to competition law or if it is performed within the employee's working hours at the main employer.

4.      Cross-border work

  • The employer may send the employee to undertake work abroad for a limited time.
  • If this work lasts longer than 4 consecutive weeks, the written employment contract or written confirmation of the concluded employment contract before going abroad must also contain additional information specified in the Labour Act.

5.      Transition to another form of employment

  • An employee who has spent more than 6 months with the same employer based on a fixed-term employment contract, provided that the probationary period (if contracted) had ended, may request the conclusion of an indefinite-term employment contract. If the conclusion of a permanent employment contract is not possible, the employer is obligated to provide written justification within 30 days. The same is applicable to a request for full-time working hours made by an employee who works part time.

6.      Mandatory training

  • The employer is obliged to provide the employee with training in accordance with the needs of performing the contracted work and at its own expense. The time spent on training will be included in the working hours and, if possible, take place during the employee's established working schedule.

7.      Protection from dismissal and burden of proof

  • The employee must not be placed in a disadvantageous position due to exercising his or her employment rights.

What are the main actions for HR departments in preparing for the changes?

  • Review employment policies and practices (especially those concerning the probationary period, additional employment, mandatory training and the provision of information).

By Valerija Cerovski Attorney at law in cooperation with Deloitte Legal

This communication contains general information only, and none of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), its global network of member firms or their related entities (collectively, the “Deloitte organization”) is, by means of this communication, rendering professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your finances or your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. No representations, warranties or undertakings (express or implied) are given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information in this communication, and none of DTTL, its member firms, related entities, employees or agents shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage whatsoever arising directly or indirectly in connection with any person relying on this communication. DTTL and each of its member firms, and their related entities, are legally separate and independent entities.

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