Worker participation - Czech Republic

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Šárka Vlková (Výzkumný ústav bezpečnosti práce), Ferenc Kudász (Nemzeti Munkaügyi Hivatal)

Introduction

Workers’ participation can be defined as the full and genuine participation of the workforce in the management of health and safety. Workers must be informed, instructed, trained and consulted on health and safety. It is a legal duty. But full participation of workers goes beyond consultation - workers and their representatives are also involved in making decisions. It is based on a two-way process of communication.

Regulatory framework for worker participation

The main legal source for worker information and consultation on OSH at a European level is the OSH Framework Directive 89/391/EEC.[1] Worker participation is a fundamental part of the OSH management framework promoted in this Directive.

Employee participation is referred to in Council Directive 2001/86/EC[2] and complements the Statute on the European Company with regard to the involvement of employees.

Directive 2002/14/EC establishes the general legal framework for informing and consulting.[3] It defines requirements for employers to inform and consult employees via the workers’ representatives in the company, in three specific areas:

  • the recent and probable development of the undertaking's or the establishment's activities and economic situation;
  • the situation, structure and probable development of employment and any anticipatory measures envisaged;
  • decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or in contractual relations.

In the Czech Republic these European framework directives were transposed into Act No. 262/2006 Coll. named Labour Code.[4] This Act transposes the European OSH Framework Directive and addresses all requirements related to work performance, thus also the issue of health and safety and employees' participation. Labour Code provides for two levels of employee involvement in issues relating to health and safety:

  • responsibilities of employers; and
  • responsibilities and rights of employees.

In this context the following provisions are essential:
The employer is obliged to:

  • provide employees with well-specified information;
  • allow employees to participate in issues relating to health and safety;
  • consult with the trade union or optionally directly with employees on clearly specified issues.

The employee has the right to:

  • specified information regarding the performance of his work and OHS; and
  • obligation to participate in solving issues related to occupational safety and health.

OSH and worker participation

Social dialogue, which is a primarily bilateral meeting between the representatives of employees and employers (collective bargaining) and tripartite negotiations between the social partners and representatives of the Government, can greatly contribute to maintaining social peace in society. It also addresses the prevention of occupational conflicts and economic crises, the humanisation of work and respect for fundamental human civil and political rights and freedoms. In the Czech Republic social dialogue takes place in several fora, which interact in terms of their aims and objectives, content, functional and procedural focus. The obligation on national consultation on labour issues, which includes working conditions, is set in Section 320 of the Labour Code.[5]

Cross-industry level

In the Czech Republic the tripartite mechanism, as a form of social dialogue between representatives of employees, employers and the Government, was based on the establishment of the Council of Economic and Social Agreement.[6] Furthermore, the Chamber of safety and fire prevention[7] provides a forum for advice and dialogue between social partners as an additional consultative body in the Czech Republic.

Council of Economic and Social Agreement of the Czech Republic (Rada hospodářské a sociální dohody ČR, RHSD)

The Council of Economic and Social Agreement (RHSD) operates as a joint voluntary reconciliatory and initiating body of the Government, the trade unions and the employers’ representatives for tripartite negotiations, aimed at reaching consensus on fundamental issues of economic and social development.

The plenary meeting of the RHSD, which is the highest tripartite authority, consists of the Prime Minister and seven representatives of the Government, seven representatives of the trade unions and seven representatives of the employers. Currently, the social partners are the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (Českomoravská konfederace odborových svazů) and the Association of Independent Unions (Asociace samostatných odborů); the employers’ side is represented by the Confederation of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic (Svaz průmyslu a dopravy ČR) and the Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Associations of the Czech Republic (Konfederace zaměstnavatelských a podnikatelských svazů České republiky, KZPS). The plenary session meetings of the RHSD are usually held once every two months.

Negotiation at the local level takes place through the Council of Economic and Social Agreement of the individual regions (state counties). The second level of discussions is carried out by individual Work Teams. Work Teams of RHSD are permanent expert bodies that address clearly defined issues at expert level. Work Teams operate in the following set-up: the team leader, the experts nominated by the Government, on the employees’ side and on the employers’ side. The RHSD is created by a total of 16 Work Teams, e.g. in:

  • tripartite and organisational issues,
  • occupational health and safety,
  • labour relations, collective bargaining and employment,
  • economic policy,
  • social issues,
  • education and human resources.

The Council participates in the elaboration of strategies in the area of OSH through its tripartite Task Force for occupational safety and health: Government Council for Safety, Hygiene and Health at Work (Rada vlády pro bezpečnost a ochranu zdraví při práci).[8]

Chamber of safety and fire prevention of the Czech Republic (Komora BOZP a PO ČR)

The chamber of safety and fire prevention of the Czech Republic was established in 2003 as a direct successor of the Guild experts for occupational safety and hygiene, environment and fire protection.

The members of the Chamber of safety and fire prevention are both legal entities and individuals engaged in activities in the fields of safety and fire prevention. They are experts providing advisory and training services, specialists employed as safety and fire prevention specialists, especially in large enterprises and companies and groups of experts brought together and functioning in the regions, who have already created or create regional branches.[9]

National voluntary programmes

In addition to legislative obligations the Czech Republic launched national support programs and organised events to increase the level of OSH in practice. These are aimed at the management systems or their components and are usually based on internationally accepted standards (e.g. OHSAS 18001, ILO-OSH guidelines). These are comprehensive programs supporting increase in the level of health and safety. However, a significant role in these programs is allocated to employees and their active participation in the tasks solution in the field of OSH.

Safe Enterprise Scheme (Program Bezpečný podnik)

The Safe Enterprise Scheme was introduced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic and the State Labour Inspection Office. This programme enables legal entities - employers that have decided to participate in the Scheme to implement the OSH Management System compliant not only with Czech regulations but also with regulations applicable in EU Member States. At present, one of the widely respected documents pertaining to the area of OSH in Europe refers to the OHSAS 18001 document and the ILO-OSH 2001 instruction manual. The Safe Enterprise Scheme is based on these particular documents. An important part of this programme is the requirement for active participation of workers in health and safety management and effective incentive programs.[10]

Program of health promotion in the workplace (Program podpory zdraví na pracovišti)

The area of health promotion in the workplace integrates traditional approaches to health and safety at work and occupational medicine. This enhances the overall view on the health of workers, which is a significant proportion of the entire society, and how the working environment affects the health and well-being of all employees. Health promotion in the workplace is understood as an investment in employees and therefore to future business. This influences long-term success by its direct and indirect economic impact.

The programme of health promotion in the workplace is organised by the National Institute of Public Health. It involves optimisation of work organisation and working conditions and requires the active participation of all interested parties (especially workers). The Programme introduces health issues into all levels of the enterprise and promotes awareness of employees about these measures and their objectives.[11]

Competition OSH Expert (Profesionál BOZP)

The Czech competition "OSH Expert" is a national competition for individuals, organised by the Occupational Safety Research Institute. It aims to reward individual contributions by persons who:

  • help promoting the culture of safety,
  • increase the level of OSH in a particular company or companies;
  • help improving the attitudes and approaches of individuals, corporate management and the general public on issues of OSH;
  • increase overall culture and work efficiency; and
  • promote voluntary and spontaneous approach to OSH problems in companies.

The competition is announced for competent persons carrying out tasks in the area of OSH. It aims to promote an active approach towards solving issues relating to OSH at the enterprise level, to popularise this job, to raise the prestige of those who perform these functions and support their legitimate pride in achievements.[12]


Sectoral level

The sectoral level social dialogue is bipartite, taking place between the concerned trade unions and employers' associations. Their focus is on collective bargaining and less on OSH. It is reported that unlike Czech owned companies, certain foreign-owned firms refuse to take part in social dialogue at the sectoral level. Not joining sectoral organisational structures helps them to avoid being covered by collective agreements concluded at a higher-level.[13]

Organisations of employers

The Confederation of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic (Svaz průmyslu a dopravy České republiky, SP CR)[14] is a voluntary organisation bringing together employers and entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic from industry and transport. It is a non-governmental organisation, independent from political parties and trade unions. SP CR is very active both at the international and European levels. In the social dialogue SP CR represents and promotes the common interests of its members and seeks to create an appropriate business environment for employers. It does not negotiate collectively or make collective bargaining agreements for their members with one of the trade union interest groups.

The Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Associations of the Czech Republic (Konfederace zaměstnavatelských a podnikatelských svazů České republiky, KZPS)[15] is an association whose objective is the promotion and coordination of businesses, employers and the professional interests of its members. It is the second largest employer interest party. Like the SP CR, it does not negotiate collectively and does not conclude as members of collective bargaining.

The Confederation of Commerce and Tourism of the Czech Republic (Svaz obchodu a cestovního ruchu České republiky, SOCR)[16] is a top, independent, lobbying association of unions, associations, large retail and distribution companies, consumer co-operatives, business alliances and franchise networks of small and medium enterprises of trade, hospitality, tourism and related services. It operates as a social partner representing employers in commerce and tourism in the sectoral social dialogue and collective bargaining. SOCR is a party in higher level collective agreements for the sector of trade and tourism. However, it is not a member of tripartite dialogue.

Trade unions

The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (Českomoravská konfederace odborových svazů, ČMKOS)[17] is the largest trade union confederation in the Czech Republic. ČMKOS brings together trade unions, which bring together employees from business and from the sphere of budgetary and contributory, i.e. both private and public sectors. ČMKOS is very active both at the international and European levels. In social dialogue it aims to ensure the protection of wages, labour and welfare rights of workers. ČMKOS does not negotiate collectively or make collective bargaining agreements for their members with one of the interest groups of employers.

The Association of Independent Unions (Asociace samostatných odborů, ASO)[18] is the second largest trade union headquarters in the Czech Republic. Its mission and goals are the same as for ČMKOS. Like ČMKOS and other overarching organisations of employers and employees, it does not negotiate collectively and concludes as members of collective bargaining.

In the framework of the Operational Programme of Human Resources and Employment "Strengthening of the social dialogue" of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on the basis of supporting EU projects were established so-called "Round Tables". This is a new form of social dialogue organized by ASO. The meeting gathers a number of representatives of trade unions, representatives of employers' associations and state administration employees, and is also open to professionals. Each round table focuses on a specific issue. Meetings take place at least twice a year.

Company level

The co-operation between the employer and the employee, which also extends to OSH issues, is obligatory in the Czech legislation. Several chapters of the Labour Code are related to co-operation and consultation: Part I Chapter III on fundamental provisions, Part V on occupational safety and health protection, Part XII on an employee information and consultation procedure, competence of a trade union organisation, a works council and a representative concerned with occupational safety and health protection.[19]

Employees participate in the solution of occupational safety and health issues usually through their trade union organisation. Thus the duties and rights concerning employees’ roles in OSH are primarily delegated to trade unions; collective agreements, especially at company level, address a wide range of issues related to labour law. The Czech legal labour jurisprudence is based on the principle that trade union acting within the employer's premise represents all its employees, regardless of whether they are or are not its members. If a company concludes a collective agreement, its provisions are binding upon all employees of the company, even upon those who are not the members of the trade union, and upon those employees who disagree with the collective agreement. Having a working trade union at the employer seems to enhance the quality of OSH.[20]

Health and safety committees are not defined by the legislation in force; however they can be established within the trade union body at the company (or on sectoral level). In 2009, half of the surveyed companies had such committees, which participated in the investigation of accidents and submitting proposals for developing health and safety at work. Focus was on work environment, job analysis, accidents at work, noise, gender issues, alcohol and drugs at work. The committee is composed of trade union members, and sometimes the management can delegate a representative too. In cases when the committee cannot succeed, issues can be forwarded to trade union bodies, which have more power in negotiating with the employer. Committees may be less frequent in smaller companies due to scarce trade union coverage among SMEs.[21]

In case of lacking trade union representation in the company the employees elect employees work council or occupational safety and health representative(s). If the work council or representatives are not elected then the employer must solve the relevant issues and consult workers directly.

Lack of subjectivity does not allow work councils and OSH representatives to enter into any contract or to undertake legal obligations at all. Employee work council and OSH representatives are in the current legal treatment only intermediary ("broker" of information) between employees and employers. They help to realise the right of employees to information and consultation.

The 2009 ESENER survey showed that health and safety committees are most established in larger companies. Furthermore, it confirmed that recognised workplace trade union representatives are rare in small enterprises but are more frequent among medium-sized enterprises (45%) and are quite ubiquitous in enterprises with 500 or more employees (80%).[22]

Employees work council (rada zaměstnanců, EWC)

EWC has at least 3 members not exceeding 15. The number must be odd. Their mandate lasts for three years. The law sets out conditions for the election of the council.[23] The 2009 ESENER survey shows that 6.26% of enterprises have a joint consultative committee, employee forum or equivalent body.[24]

OSH representative (zástupce pro oblast BOZP)

The maximum number of OSH representatives depends on the risks at the workplace and the number of employees. It is possible to set up a maximum of one representative per 10 employees. Their mandate lasts for three years. The law sets out the conditions for the election of OSH representatives.[25] The 2009 ESENER survey showed that most of small enterprises have safety and health representatives (63-72%) and the rate gradually increases by company size up to 94% in enterprises with 500 employees and more.[26]

Informing

Informing means providing the necessary data from which it is possible to clearly determine the state of the information reported. The employer is obliged to provide information in sufficient time and in an appropriate manner.

Under the Labour Code[27], the employer is obliged to inform employees about the following issues:

  • selection of employees designated to organise first aid, to provide medical assistance, fire rescue and the Police of the Czech Republic and to organise the evacuation of employees,
  • selection and provision of occupational health services,
  • determination of professionally competent natural persons for the prevention of risks under OHS legislation
  • any other matter which may significantly affect the safety and health at work,
  • economic and financial situation of the employer and its probable development,
  • activities of the employer, its probable development, its consequences on the environment and its ecological measures,
  • legal status of the employer and its changes, internal organisation and the person authorized to act on behalf of employers in labour relations,
  • fundamental issues of working conditions and their changes,
  • provision of equal treatment for male and female employees and non-discrimination,
  • job vacancies that are permanent and would be suitable for employees working for the employer in limited duration employment contract,
  • occupational safety and health within the range specified by law,
  • matters within the scope of stipulated agreement on the establishment of a European Works Council.

Practical ways of informing:

  • news-letters
  • posters
  • leaflets and brochures
  • electronic information systems
  • meetings at different levels of management
  • informal communication with individuals
  • mailbox for suggestions and comments
  • wish list and complaints book
  • surveys
  • Safety Day / Week

Consultation

Consultation is the exchange of opinions and explanations by means of negotiations between employers and employees in order to reach a consensus. The employer is obliged to give information in an appropriate manner and provide sufficient time that - based on the information provided - employees can express their views, and the employer is able to take these into account before making arrangements. Employees have the right to receive a reasoned response to the opinion under consideration.

According to the Labour Code, employers must discuss the following questions:

  • significant measures relating to OSH,
  • risk assessment,
  • adoption and implementation of measures to reduce negative impacts of risks,
  • performance of work in controlled areas and classification of work into risk categories,
  • organising training on legal and other regulations to ensure OSH,
  • assigning professionally competent persons to risk prevention,
  • likely economic development of the employer,
  • planned structural changes by the employer or its organisational rationalisation measures, affecting employment, including those relating to collective redundancies of employees,
  • latest status and structure of employees, the probable development of employment with the employer, the fundamental questions of working conditions and their changes,
  • transfer of employee to another job,
  • health and safety at work within the specified range,
  • matters within the scope stipulated agreement on the establishment of a European Works Council.

Practical ways of consultation:

  • meetings at different levels of management,
  • activity in small working groups.

References

  1. Framework Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work, OJ L 183, 29. 6. 1989, p. 1-8. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31989L0391:EN:NOT
  2. Council Directive 2001/86/EC of 8 October 2001 supplementing the Statute for a European company with regard to the involvement of employees, OJ L 294, 10. 11. 2001, p. 22-32. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32001L0086:EN:HTML
  3. Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2002 establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community - Joint declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on employee representation, OJ L 080, 23. 03. 2002, p. 29-34. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32002L0014:EN:HTML
  4. Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb., zákoník práce, ve znění pozdějších předpisů. Available at: http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/zakonik-prace/ English version retrieved on 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/3221/labour_code.pdf
  5. Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb., zákoník práce, ve znění pozdějších předpisů. Available at: http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/zakonik-prace/ English version retrieved on 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/3221/labour_code.pdf
  6. Rada hospodářské a sociální dohody ČR (tripartita). Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/cs/6434
  7. Komora bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci a požární ochrany České republiky. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://komora-bozp-po.cz/
  8. Rada hospodářské a sociální dohody ČR (tripartita). Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/cs/6434
  9. Komora bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci a požární ochrany České republiky. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://komora-bozp-po.cz/
  10. Státní úřad inspekce práce: Bezpečný podnik. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.suip.cz/bezpecnost-prace/bezpecny-podnik/
  11. Státní zdravotní ústav: Podpora zdraví na pracovišti. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.szu.cz/tema/pracovni-prostredi/podpora-zdravi-na-pracovisti
  12. Výzkumný ústav bezpečnosti práce: 2. ročník národní soutěže Profesionál BOZP. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.vubp.cz/profesional-bozp/
  13. Eurofound – European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2008). Working conditions and social dialogue - Czech Republic. Retrieved 17 April 2012, from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/comparative/tn0710019s/cz0710019q.htm
  14. Confederation of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: www.spcr.cz
  15. The Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Associations of the Czech Republic. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: www.kzps.cz
  16. The Confederation of Commerce and Tourism of the Czech Republic. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: www.socr.cz
  17. The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: www.cmkos.cz
  18. The Association of Independent Unions. Home page. Retrieved 01 March 2013,from: www.asocr.cz
  19. Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb., zákoník práce, ve znění pozdějších předpisů. Available at: http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/zakonik-prace/ English version retrieved on 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/3221/labour_code.pdf
  20. Eurofound – European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2010). Czech Republic: Information, consultation and participation of workers concerning health and safety in SMEs. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/ewco/studies/tn0911028s/cz0911029q.htm
  21. Eurofound – European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2010). Czech Republic: Information, consultation and participation of workers concerning health and safety in SMEs. Retrieved 01 March 2013, from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/ewco/studies/tn0911028s/cz0911029q.htm
  22. EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. ESENER survey results 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2013, from https://osha.europa.eu/sub/esener/en/front-page/213/009
  23. Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb., zákoník práce, ve znění pozdějších předpisů. Available at: http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/zakonik-prace/ English version retrieved on 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/3221/labour_code.pdf
  24. EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. ESENER survey results 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2013, from https://osha.europa.eu/sub/esener/en/front-page/213/009
  25. Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb., zákoník práce, ve znění pozdějších předpisů. Available at: http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/zakonik-prace/ English version retrieved on 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/3221/labour_code.pdf
  26. EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. ESENER survey results 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2013, from https://osha.europa.eu/sub/esener/en/front-page/213/009
  27. Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb., zákoník práce, ve znění pozdějších předpisů. Available at: http://business.center.cz/business/pravo/zakony/zakonik-prace/ English version retrieved on 01 March 2013, from: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/3221/labour_code.pdf

Links for further reading

  • ETUI – European Trade Union Institute. Europa-AG (SE) Transposition Czech Republic. Retrieved 15 February 2013, from:

http://de.worker-participation.eu/Europa-AG-SE/Countries-Transposition/Czech-Republic

Contributors

FKudasz, Palmer