“To be honest, I think the government handled the crisis as well as possible," says Levente Csengery, Partner at KCG Partners. “The COVID-19 regulations do exactly what they’re supposed to – protect public health and keep us all alive, and they’re working.“ At the time of writing, Hungary has had 3535 confirmed cases (and 460 deaths) from the new coronavirus.
The coronavirus epidemic has shown that implementing appropriate occupational safety and health measures and providing adequate conditions are essential in all sectors regardless of the activity. After the coronavirus outbreak, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) had published a guidance for the workplace. Now, a couple of month later, at the end of April 2020, the EU-OSHA issued guidance on coming back to work. The goal of these non-binding guidelines is to help employers and workers to stay safe and healthy in a working environment that has been changed significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of April 2020, the Hungarian Government submitted to the Parliament a bill on the termination of the undivided joint ownership on agricultural lands and the clarification of the data of the rightholders of properties deemed agricultural land in the land registry, aiming at the establishment of a clear and transparent land ownership structure.
The Hungarian Government introduced two special taxes from 1 May 2020 in order to tackle the financial effects of the coronavirus disease: the special tax on credit institutions and the tax on commercial chains. According to the official communication of the Ministry of Finance „the goal is that the burden of these taxes – that contribute to the improvement of the balance of public finances – are borne not by the consumers but by the actors that are capable of such.”
Hungary announced and successfully notified to the European Commission a HUF 50 billion (approximately EUR 140 million) aid scheme in April 2020. The subsidy to improve competitiveness has been designed to help the medium-sized and large enterprises that are active in the manufacturing or business services sector that face difficulties due to loss of income and liquidity resulting from the economic impact of the pandemic.
The Hungarian Parliament has started the discussion of the bill that is implementing the provisions of Directive (EU) 2018/1808 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) (the “Directive”). According to the Directive, Member States must ensure their compliance with the Directive by 19 September 2020.
The independent administrative and labour courts ceased to exist in Hungary as of 31 March 2020, and in the future, administrative and employment legal actions will be brought before regional courts. All cases that were in the sole jurisdiction of the Budapest-Capital Administrative and Labour Courts have been transferred to the sole jurisdiction of the Budapest-Capital Regional Court.
With regard to the state of emergency the Hungarian Government has passed several employment related laws. According to Government Decree no. 47/2020, the provisions of the Labour Code shall be applied with several modifications during the term of state of emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The purpose of the modifications is to make the employment regulations more flexible and to enable the employers and employees to adapt to the challenges caused by the pandemic.
The currently running Public Administration and Public Service Development Strategy 2014-2020 program has set high goals for the processes of public administration, including organization, consistency, professionally trained staff, cost-effectiveness and competitive service fees. To reach these goals, the debate of a legislative package aiming to simplify the operation of government offices started in November 2019 in the Hungarian Parliament. The package was accepted in December 2019, with the majority of the changes getting into effect starting in March 2020, and the remainder coming in September 2020 and January 2021.
In response to the new trends in the labour market, the rules on training grant financed from the Hungarian National Employment Fund are changing in 2020. Favorable amendments will make the process of applying for and using this grant more flexible and as a new option, grant may also be applied for job keeping purposes.