On 7 November 2023, the National Assembly, in its extraordinary session, adopted the Act Amending the Employment Relationships Act (hereinafter: “Amendment to ZDR-1” or “the Amendment”), wherein the government of the Republic of Slovenia aims to align the Slovenian legal system particularly with (i) the Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union (Directive 2019/1152/EU) and (ii) the Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU (2019/1158/EU) in the part relating to the implementation of labor rights and obligations.
Key changes and novelties introduced by the Amendment to ZDR-1 include:
- Additional mandatory elements of the employment contract. In addition to the existing mandatory elements of the employment contract, the Amendment to ZDR-1 specifies that employment contracts concluded after its enforcement must also include (i) a provision regarding the payment of additional payments and other components of the employee’s salary, the payment period, payment date, and method of salary payment, and (ii) a provision regarding training provided by the employer.
- Change or conclusion of a new employment contract with improved working conditions. The Amendment to ZDR-1 allows employees to propose a change to the employment contract or the conclusion of a new one to improve their employment or working conditions. Such a proposal can be made by the employee after six months from the conclusion of the employment contract or after the end of a longer probationary period. The employer must decide on the proposal and substantiate their decision in writing within 30 days.
- Work life balance. The Amendment to ZDR-1 enables employees who care for children up to 8 years old or provide care to propose to the employer the conclusion of an employment contract for a shorter working time for a specified period during the employment relationship due to the needs of balancing work and private life. The employer must substantiate their decision regarding this proposal in writing within 15 days.
- Introduction of the right to disconnect. This is the right of the employee, during the rest period or justified absences from work, not to be available to the employer.
- Introduction of care leave. This allows an employee to be absent from work for up to five working days in the event of significant care for family members due to health reasons specified in the first, second, or third indent of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the ZDR-1 or a person living in the same household, when not entitled to absence from work according to health insurance regulations.
- Protection of caregivers. In addition to special protection for employees due to pregnancy and parenthood, the Amendment to ZDR-1 also stipulates the protection due to caregiving. Caregiving is defined either as working shorter hours to balance work and private life according to the third paragraph of this article, or absence from work due to care leave according to the fifth paragraph of this article.
- Change of the period for use of annual leave. The Amendment to ZDR-1 extends the deadline for using leave that was not taken due to absence from work due to illness or injury, maternity leave, or leave for child care until March 31 of the year following the year into which the annual leave could have been transferred.
- Protection of employees who are victims of domestic violence. The Amendment to ZDR-1 includes employees who are victims of domestic violence in the category of employees entitled to special protection in the employment relationship. An individual is considered a victim of domestic violence if they have experienced one of the forms of domestic violence within the last two years, reported the violence to the police or social services, wherein the procedures related to violence and the elimination of its consequences are not yet finalized. In case of dispute, the burden of proof regarding the enforcement of such special protection is on the employer. According to the Amendment to ZDR-1, such employees may be required to perform work beyond regular working hours, have irregularly scheduled or temporarily rearranged working hours, or be assigned night work only with their prior written consent. The Amendment also stipulates the right to five paid working days of absence in each calendar year for arranging protection, legal and other proceedings, and addressing the consequences of domestic violence.
- Reduced working hours for employees who are victims of domestic violence. The Amendment to ZDR-1 specifies that an employee who is a victim of domestic violence may propose the conclusion of an employment contract for reduced working hours during the employment relationship for the period of arranging protection, legal and other proceedings, and addressing the consequences of domestic violence. The employer must substantiate their decision regarding this proposal in writing within 15 days.
- Shorter period for recurrence of misconduct in case of ordinary termination of employment for reason of misconduct and the right to comment on alleged violations. According to the Amendment to ZDR-1, the period in which an employee must not repeat a violation is shorter, now six months instead of one year. Additionally, the Amendment stipulates the employer’s obligation, upon written request from the employee, to provide the employee with the opportunity to comment on violations within three working days of receiving the employer’s written warning. Following such a statement, the employer must make a written and reasoned decision within eight days regarding the warning given.
- Additional reason for extraordinary termination by the employee. The Amendment to ZDR-1 establishes the right of the employee to terminate employment immediately if the employer fails to pay wage compensation, not just salary.
- New definition of the day of termination of the employment relationship during temporary incapacity for work. According to the amendment to ZDR-1, the employment relationship of a worker whose employment contract has been terminated for a business reason or for reasons of incompetence and who is, upon the expiry of the period of notice, absent from work due to temporary incapacity for work because of illness or injury, shall be terminated at the end of the last day of the period of absence due to temporary incapacity for work due to sickness or injury. The maximum period of six months after the expiry of the notice period shall remain unchanged.
- Suspension of the effects of termination for employee representatives. In cases where an employee representative claims the illegality of the termination of an employment contract in a court proceeding, the Amendment to ZDR-1 allows for the suspension of the effects of termination until the court decision at first instance or for a maximum of six months.
- Subsidiary liability of the contractor for salary payments. The Amendment to ZDR-1 introduces subsidiary liability of the contractor in construction works for salary payments that were not paid by the immediate subcontractor for work performed within the framework of services for the contractor.
The Amendment to ZDR-1, except for specific provisions with longer transitional periods, will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia.