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Slovakia: New rules on meal vouchers, collective bargaining, salary tax

Total Rewards|Health and Benefits|Retirement
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By Ivana Šebestová | March 30, 2021

Amendments include new rules on meal benefits, collective bargaining, tax treatment of 13th and 14th month salaries, and other employment matters.

Employer Action Code: Act

Parliament has passed a number of amendments to the Labor Code and related regulations on a variety of employment matters, including changes to the provision of meal benefits, termination of employment at normal retirement age, regulation of remote work and extension of collective bargaining agreements, among other things.

Key details

Code amendments, effective March 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted, include:

  • A new option for employees to select meal vouchers or meal allowances annually where the employer does not provide an onsite cafeteria. Employers with ongoing meal voucher contracts can postpone offering the choice until December 31, 2021. Meal vouchers will have to be electronic (rather than paper) as of January 1, 2023.
  • Termination of employment by the employer with advance notice will be permitted when employees reach normal retirement age for social security (as well as the age set for any company pension), effective as of January 1, 2022. In this case, terminated employees will be entitled to severance.
  • The tax-exempt treatment of voluntary 13th and 14th month salaries was abolished effective January 1, 2021.
  • A legislative framework for remote work is provided, distinguishing between regular and exceptional circumstances (e.g., due to COVID-19-related restrictions). If employees work remotely regularly, the arrangement must be formalized by an agreement within the employment contract. Employers are obliged to cover the costs related to regular remote work and to allow employees to disconnect from work devices outside scheduled working hours.
  • Provisions under which industry-wide collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) could be made binding on non-signatory employers have been abolished. Existing CBAs will remain in force until their expiration date.

Employer implications

Employers were already required to provide meal benefits, either through vouchers, allowances or an onsite cafeteria (all tax-favored); the great majority of employers surveyed (around 90%) by Willis Towers Watson chose to provide vouchers. Giving employees a choice of voucher or allowance will likely increase the prevalence of allowances, but the tax limits on the value of vouchers and allowances are similar, so a significant change in practice is not expected. Similarly, as few of the employers surveyed offer 13th and 14th month salaries (due in part to the tax limits and complexities around qualifying for tax-favorable treatment), the change is not expected to have a significant impact on pay for most companies. More significant is the new option for imposing mandatory retirement at normal retirement age with severance payable and the development of a more robust regulatory framework for remote working.

Contact

Ivana Šebestová
Prague

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