ČMKOS is the dominant union confederation in the Czech Republic, although there are others. Overall around 12% of all employees are union members.
There are probably just over 500,000 trade unionists in the Czech Republic, although precise numbers are not published by all union organisations. There are also no official statistics on the proportion of employees in unions. The 2018 Eurofound report estimated union density at 11.9% in 2016. Figures from the ICTWSS database of union membership put union density at 12.7% in 2013.
By far the largest trade union confederation is ČMKOS, which had 292,525members in 2018. ČMKOS is the Czech successor of the Czech and Slovak union confederation, ČS KOS, which was founded in March 1990 after the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989 on the basis of strike committees from November 1989. The ROH, the union confederation in the communist period, was dissolved at the founding congress of ČS KOS, and the majority of its members joined ČS KOS, although the new union confederation broke with ROH in terms of policy and organisation. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two separate states, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, and ČS KOS split into a Czech organisation, ČMKOS, and a Slovak organisation, KOZ SR.
The next largest confederation is ASO ČR, which was founded in 1995 when the agricultural and food workers union (OSPZV) broke away from ČMKOS because it wanted the confederation to take stronger action against the then government’s policies in favour of reducing subsidies to agriculture. Together with two much smaller unions it formed ASO. Other unions have joined ASO since then. The 2018 Eurofound report estimates ASO’s membership at 78,000 in 2017.
Another union grouping is the KUK, a confederation of unions founded in 1990, which covers some workers in the cultural sector. Its website states that it had 31,500 members at the latest count, although some of them are in Slovakia. Two smaller union groupings are the OS ČMS, which is close to the communist party and was reported to have some 10,000 members; and KOK, a Christian union confederation with reportedly 5,000 members. It should be emphasised that there is no independent verification of these figures and they are no longer current. There are also a number of independent unions, which are not part of the larger confederations, including a number in transport, such as the train drivers’ union FS ČR, the ceramics union OS SKBP, unions in the media and a police union NOS PČR, which has 16,661 members.
The largest confederation, ČMKOS, has 30 separate affiliated member unions, divided broadly on an industry basis. The largest are the metalworkers’ union, OS KOVO, which states that it has 95,000 members, the health workers union OSZSP with 24,733 members, the government employees union OSSOO with 19,683 members and the teachers’ union, ČMOS PŠ, with 18,408 members.
ASO has 13 affiliates, of which the largest is the founding union OSPZV-ASO, which states it has 30,000 members, although not all of these are employees.
ČMKOS is formally politically independent and its statutes make clear that it is “independent of … political parties and movements”. However, it campaigns to maintain existing social and employment benefits and its 2014-18 programme criticises “neoliberal concepts by Czech right-wing governments”.
Unions have lost members sharply in recent years. ČMKOS had 2.45 million members in 1995, eight times its current membership, although some workers are now in other confederations. Until very recently the decline in membership appeared to be continuing. However, growing labour shortages appear to have led to a growth in union membership. Unions have also successfully run recruitment campaigns, including the Konec levné práce (End low paid work) campaign, which ČMKOS estimated produced 27,000 members over two years.
There are no official figures on the proportion of union members who are women. However, ČMKOS calculates that women make up 48% of its membership.
 Living and Working in the Czech Republic: Working life in the Czech Republic by Renata Kyzlinkova, Stepanka Lehmann, Petr Pojer and Sona Veverkova, Eurofound, 2018 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/country/czech-republic#actors-and-institutions (Accessed 12.12.2018)
 J. Visser, ICTWSS Database. version 6.0. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS), University of Amsterdam. June 2019
 ETUC Annual Gender Equality Survey 2019 – 12th edition, by Lionel Fulton and Cinzia Sechi, ETUC, April 2019 https://www.etuc.org/sites/default/files/circular/file/2019-05/ETUC_Annual_Equality_Survey%202019_FINAL_EN.pdf (Accessed 18.07.2017)
 The Characteristics of KUK https://www.odborykuk.cz/ (Accessed 12.12.18)
 Trade union membership 2003-2008, by Mark Carley, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2009 http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/studies/tn0904019s/tn0904019s.htm
 Figures for individual unions other than OS KOVO from Living and Working in the Czech Republic: Working life in the Czech Republic by Renata Kyzlinkova, Stepanka Lehmann, Petr Pojer and Sona Veverkova, Eurofound, 2018 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/country/czech-republic#actors-and-institutions (Accessed 12.12.2018)
 Czech Republic: Latest working life developments – Q1 2018, by Renáta Kyzlinková, Eurofound, 2018 https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/article/2018/czech-republic-latest-working-life-developments-q1-2018 (Accessed 12.12.2018)
 See https://www.blesk.cz/clanek/zpravy-live-zpravy/494324/centraly-odborum-pribyva-clenu-pocet-dorovnava-ubytek-odboraru.html (Accessed 12.12.2018)
 ETUC Annual Gender Equality Survey 2019 – 12th edition, by Lionel Fulton and Cinzia Sechi, ETUC, 2019
At least 45% of employees in the Czech Republic are known to be covered by collective bargaining, most through company level negotiations, and the figure may be higher. Industry level agreements cover some industries and, following legal changes in 2004, they can again be extended more widely.
Collective bargaining in the Czech Republic can take place at both industry level – where the agreements reached are known as “higher level collective agreements” (KSVS) – and at company level, although a majority of companies are not covered by any collective bargaining.
In terms of the numbers covered, the latest figures produced by the Czech Statistical Office, for 2018, show that 44.5% of all employees were covered by collective bargaining, with 40.2% definitely not covered, and 15.3% where the position was unclear. If some of the “unclear” group are in fact covered by collective bargaining, the proportion could be above 50%. Figures from the same source for earlier years show that collective bargaining coverage has fallen slightly: it was 47.6% in 2012. However, there are year to year fluctuations and the figure is also affected by changes in the proportion of employees where the situation is unclear.
Looking at the breakdown between industry level and company level agreements, figures presented to the council of ČMKOS, the country’s largest union confederation, in November 2017 indicate that company agreements cover a higher proportion of employees than higher level agreements. The report shows that 1,338,937 employees, or 31.2% of the workforce, were covered by 3,767 agreements signed by ČMKOS affiliates at company level in 2017. The figures for higher level agreements, in effect industry level agreements, have not been updated since 2013 but in that year they covered 620,665 employees, or around 15% of the workforce. There is an overlap between the two groups, which would reduce overall coverage, but the ČMKOS figures do not take into account agreements signed by unions outside the ČMKOS confederation. There were six higher level agreements signed by other unions in 2017 and an unknown number of agreements at company level.
One reason why the bulk of agreements are at local level is that many employers’ associations are unwilling to bargain on behalf of their members.
The ČMKOS figures show that the number of employees covered by collective bargaining at company level, after falling sharply in the 1990s, has stabilised at between 1.3 and 1.4 million since 2002. In 2018, a total of 1,384,711 employees were covered by ČMKOS negotiated agreements, the highest number since 2009, when 1,439,212 were covered. The number of agreements has, however, fluctuated more, ranging between 4,904 in 2011 and 3,082 in 2009. In 2018 there were 3,770 agreements at company level signed by ČMKOS affiliates.
It is impossible to provide similar figures on trends in industry level agreements because, since 2013, ČMKOS has been unable to collect the necessary information on the number of employers and employees covered. In 2013 there were 19 higher level agreements covering 620,665 employees. By 2018 the number of higher level agreements had fallen to 16, although it is unclear whether the number of employees covered has fallen correspondingly.
Industry level agreements are normally only binding on those employers who are members of the employers’ association that signed the agreement. However, the legislation (Collective Bargaining Act (Act No. 2/1991)), allows industry level collective agreements to be extended to all employers in the same industry if certain conditions are met. The rules, which were revised in 2004, require that any request to extend a collective agreement must be made jointly by the largest union and the largest employers’ association in the industry, and the extended agreements do not apply to those companies employing fewer than 20 employees. Since 2008 the industries in which agreements have been extended have remained largely unchanged. In 2018 five agreements were extended in this way. They covered: agriculture (an agreement where an affiliate of the other main union confederation, ASO, is the principal signatory); and four agreements signed by ČMKOS affiliates: glass and ceramics; construction; and textiles, clothing and leather and transport, where the agreement signed in 2017 continues until 2020.
As well as these two levels of bargaining, unions, employers and government meet in the tripartite Council of Economic and Social Agreement (RHSD). This does not conclude binding agreements but in the past, particularly in the early 1990s, it played a major role through a series of “general agreements” in providing a framework for collective bargaining. While no general agreement has been signed since 1994, the Council continues to meet and, together with other forms of dialogue, influences government policy. The plenary meetings of the RHSD are chaired by the prime minister and it meets around every six weeks.
ČMKOS and ASO both send representatives to the council, where ČMKOS has six seats. The statute of the RHSD requires, among other things, that participating unions must have at least 150,000 members, but this does not seem to be applied to ASO.
Who negotiates and when?
Negotiations take place between the unions, which can be workplace union organisations as well as unions nationally, and employers, which similarly can be either individual employers or employers’ associations. Legislation which stated that an employer could negotiate with the largest union at a workplace, where there were several and they could not agree, was ruled unconstitutional by the constitutional court in March 2008.
Figures from the 2017 ČMKOS survey of collective agreements show that 75.6% of company level collective agreements in 2017 were signed by a single union, 11.3% by two and 13.2% by three or more.
Collective agreements at company level normally run for a year. At industry level, agreements are increasingly signed for periods of two years or more, although the pay element is still normally for 12 months, with pay rates being updated annually through a supplementary agreement.
The subject of the negotiations
Pay is the main subject of collective bargaining although there are also negotiations on other issues such as working time, work organisation, health and safety, work-life balance and employers’ contributions to pensions.
The Czech Republic also has a minimum wage. This is set by the government after discussions between the employers and the unions in the tripartite Council of Economic and Social Agreement (RHSD). There is no automatic uprating and the minimum wage can be frozen, as it was for six years from 2007 to 2013, when the centre-right government, led by Petr Nečas ,was in power.
 Structure of earnings survey 2018, Table A7, Czech Statistical Office, 2019. See https://www.czso.cz/csu/czso/structure-of-earnings-survey-2018 (Accessed 18.07.2019)
 Zpráva o průběhu kolektivního vyjednávání na vyšším stupni a na podnikové úrovni v roce 2018, 12.11.2018
 See list of extended agreements published by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs https://www.mpsv.cz/cs/3856 (Accessed 18.07.2019)
The local union grouping is still the main way employees are represented at the workplace. In addition, a works council, which has fewer rights, can be set up. Rules which said that a works council had to be dissolved if a local union was established were declared to be unconstitutional in 2008. In practice works councils are rare. In most cases there is either a union or nothing.
The main structure for representing employees at the workplace is the local trade union grouping, which only needs three individuals to set it up. This was the only structure available until 2001, but since then it has been possible to set up a works council or representatives concerned with health and safety. In order for this to happen, at least one third of the workforce must ask for such a body. Under the revised labour code, which was passed in 2006 and came into effect at the start of 2007, works councils or health and safety representatives could only be established if there was no trade union in the company, and they had to be dissolved if a trade union organisation was subsequently set up and signed a collective agreement. However, in March 2008 the constitutional court ruled that this legislation was unconstitutional. It is now possible for a company to have both a union and a works council or health and safety representatives.
In practice, very few works councils have been set up and the dominant structure remains the local union organisation, although the majority of companies have nothing at all.
Figures from Eurofound’s 2013 European Company Survey show that just 12% of establishments with at least 10 employees have some form of official employee representation, which may be either a union or a works council. This is well below the EU28 average of 32%. As elsewhere in Europe, larger organisations are much more likely to have such a structure than smaller ones. Among establishments with more than 250 employees, 65% have some form of employee representation.
Numbers and structure
Where employee representation is through the local union organisation it is for the union to decide the numbers involved. Works councils should have between three and 15 members. The precise number, which must always be odd, is decided by the employer after consultation with the employees who initially asked for a works council to be set up.
Tasks and rights
There are differences between the tasks and rights of the employee representatives at the workplace, depending on whether they are part of a union organisation or a works council, and these are set out in the Labour Code.
Only the trade unions have a right to be involved in collective bargaining. But there are also differences in the areas of information, consultation and where the agreement of employee representatives is necessary to make changes.
Both the local union and the works council have the right, as representatives of the employees, to be informed on:
- the economic and financial position of the company and its probable development;
- the company’s activities and their impact on the environment; and
- planned changes in the company’s structure, status and business activities.
Both bodies also have the right to be informed and consulted on:
- the probable economic development of the company;
- key working conditions concerns;
- structural changes; rationalisation or organisational measures;
- measures affecting employment, particularly collective redundancies;
- the number of employees and likely future employment developments;
- the transfer of the company to another owner;
- a wide range of health and safety topics;
- measures to ensure equal treatment of women and men;
- details of permanent employment, which would be of interest to existing temporary employees; and
- issues linked to the establishment of a European works council.
Where there are fewer than 10 employees, the representatives do not have the right to information on the company’s economic situation or its activities and their environmental impact. Their consultation rights are also limited, covering just transfers, health and safety and the establishment of a European works council.
There are specific rules on consultation in relation to collective redundancies affecting significant numbers of employees, where the union and works council must be informed and consulted in advance, with the intention of reaching an agreement aimed at avoiding redundancies, if possible, and, if not, at mitigating their adverse impact on employees.
The union and the works council are also involved in drawing up the written schedule for taking leave, which, as the Labour Code states, “is only released with the prior consent of the trade union organisation and the works council”.
As well as all these issues the local trade union organisation has a legal right to information on: developments in wages and salaries including the average level of pay and its composition for various occupational categories in the company. The union should also be given details of the appointment of new employees.
The legislation states that the union must be consulted on
- the company’s economic situation;
- workload and the pace of work;
- changes in work organisation;
- systems of employee pay and appraisal;
- measures relating to childcare, care of disabled persons, improvements in occupational hygiene and measures relating to employees’ social and cultural needs; and
- other measures which “relate to a larger number of employees”.
The union must also be consulted about a number of other concerns. These include: the transfer of individuals where they do not agree; the collective regulation of working hours, such as night working or working on normal rest days; the date on which employees are to be paid, unless this is set out in the collective agreement; the arrangements under which employees compensate their employer for damage they have caused or money they have lost; and compensation for those suffering from an occupational disease.
There are two issues which must be agreed with the union, where it is present in the workplace. These are:
- the use of any funds established to meet cultural and social needs; and
- changes to the company’s work rules or work regulations. These work regulations describe the duties of the employees, setting out the details of the provisions of the labour code and other regulations which apply, but taking into account the specific conditions of the workplace. They can only be modified with the prior written consent of the union active in the company and without that consent the modifications are null and void.
The level of pay during periods of short-time working (because of a fall in demand) can be either fixed through ab agreement with the union or through internal regulations.
The revised labour code, which came into effect in 2007, gave trade unions the right to obtain and inspect company documents to ensure that the employer was complying with relevant health and safety regulations, as well as allowing them to prohibit practices which threatened the health and safety of employees. However, the constitutional court ruled in March 2008 that these powers should be exercised by the state and not by the unions and were therefore unconstitutional. As a result the unions now have much more limited inspection rights in the area of health and safety and can no longer issue instruction on health and safety matters.
Election and term of office
The elections and term of office of local trade union representatives are largely for the union to determine, although the legislation also says that employers should “facilitate the holding of elections”.
In the case of works councils, nominations are made by the employees. There is a secret ballot in work time and members serve for three years. There are no specific conditions which candidates must fulfil. As the legislation states, all employees employed by the employer are both “eligible to vote and be elected” (Labour Code Section 283(5)).
Protection against dismissal
Discrimination against either union representatives or members of a works council is illegal. The dismissal of trade union representatives involved in consultation with the employer, either during their period of office or for one year afterwards, must be agreed by the trade union organisation or by a court.
Time off and other resources
Employee representatives must be given “the necessary” paid time off. For trade union organisations, this will typically be partial release from normal work in workplaces with between 400 and 600 trade union members and full release from normal work where there are at least 600 union members. In workplaces with 1,500 or more trade union members two people will be given full release from normal work.
Employers should also provide “within an appropriate scope … rooms with the necessary furnishings and equipment”, and they should pay for their maintenance and operation as well as the documentation employee representatives need. However, the precise extent of the support to be provided is not specified in the legislation.
Trade unionists are entitled to five days’ paid time off per year for union training, unless “serious operational reasons” prevent this.
 Eurofound (2015), Third European Company Survey – Overview report: Workplace practices – Patterns, performance and well-being, Figures for Table 44
Employees have a third of the seats on the supervisory board of state-owned companies and, following a change in the law in 2017, once again in privately owned companies, although now only in larger ones.
In state-owned companies, irrespective of size, one third of the supervisory board are employees of the company, elected by the workforce. The electoral regulations are established by the management in agreement with trade unions, if any. (The role of the supervisory board is to oversee the management board, which runs the business on a day-to-day basis.)
Until January 2014, employees in privately owned public limited companies (a.s.) had the right to elect one third of the members of the supervisory board, provided there were at least 50 employees. However, the Business Corporations Act (90/2012), adopted in March 2012, removed this right, affecting some 2,800 companies. And for a period employee representation on supervisory boards of privately owned companies was only possible on a voluntary basis.
However, on 14 January 2017 §448 of the Business Corporations Act was amended to reinstate obligatory employee representation on supervisory boards, although only for companies with more than 500 employees, rather than the previous 50. Employee representatives continue to make up a third of the total, with the remaining two-thirds elected by the general meeting. It remains possible for smaller companies to have employee representation or for the proportion of employee representatives to be higher than a third (although not more than a half). However, this depends on a voluntary decision by the company.
The employee representatives are elected by the company’s employees but the legislation does not specify how they should be nominated or elected. Although the law is clear that only company employees can vote in the election of their representatives, there is nothing to stop the individuals chosen coming from outside the company, for example external trade union officials. While the legislation clearly applies to Czech companies with both a supervisory and management board (the standard form), it is uncertain whether and how it applies to the growing number of Czech companies with a single-tier (monistic) governance system, which have no supervisory board.
Employee members of the supervisory board have the same period of office as members representing the shareholders. This is set in the company’s own statutes, but where no period of office is set, it is assumed to be three years.
Companies had two years to adopt their structures to accommodate the 2017 amendments, so in many companies the changes have only recently started to take effect. There were been discussions at the end of 2018 on changing the rules again, in part to resolves some ambiguities, but potentially also to reduce the number of employee representatives and reduce their influence. However, the outcome remains unclear (mid 2019).
 Zaměstnanci přijdou o právo koukat šéfům pod prsty (Employees lose the right to keep an eye on the bosses) Novinky.cz , September 2013
http://www.novinky.cz/ekonomika/318657-zamestnanci-prijdou-o-pravo-koukat-sefum-pod-prsty.html (Accessed 30.07.2014)
Most representatives in European bodies are chosen by joint meetings of employees’ representatives – trade unionists and works council members – where they exist. But board level representatives for a European Company are chosen in the same way as for a national company – through election by the employees.
European Works Councils
Czech members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for the European works council (EWC) are chosen from employees at a meeting of all employee representatives (which can be either local union organisations or, where they do not exist, works councils). Where there are no existing employee representatives, the employees elect someone for this specific purpose.
The rules are the same for Czech members of an EWC appointed under the fallback procedure.
Czech members of the special negotiating body (SNB) for the European Company are chosen from employees at a meeting of all employee representatives (which can be either local union organisations or, where they do not exist, works councils). Where there are no existing employee representatives, the employees elect someone for this specific purpose. Trade union officials not employed by the company concerned can also be members of the SNB.
Members of the SE representative body (works council), as set up under the annex to the directive, are also appointed at a joint meeting of employee representatives.
Czech employee representatives at board level, on the other hand, are chosen in the same way that national supervisory board members are chosen – through election by the employees, either directly or through delegates.
Further information on the national SE legislation can be found here.
Employee representation on health and safety issues is provided either through the workplace trade union organisation or elected safety representatives. There are no set rules on the numbers that should carry out these duties and the union right to require work to be stopped if there appeared to be an imminent threat to workers’ lives or safety was removed in 2008.
Basic approach at workplace level
The employer is responsible for health and safety at work, although employee representatives, either the local union or elected safety representatives should be informed and consulted, where they are present.
Employee health and safety bodies
Employee representation in the area of health and safety comes either through the workplace trade union organisation or an elected safety representative (zástupce pro oblast bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci).
For a period, separate safety representatives could only be elected if there was no union in the workplace, and their period of office ended once a workplace union started to operate. However, in 2008 the constitutional court ruled against this arrangement. Since then both elected safety representatives and the local trade union organisation can represent employees in issues relating to health and safety, although unions still have some rights which elected safety representatives do not possess. There is, however, no obligation on the employer to establish safety employee representation, as at least a third of all employees must call for this before it is set up (see section on elections). As a result, most health and safety representation is through union structures.
Numbers and structure
Where the local union body deals with health and safety, the rules governing numbers and structure are a matter for the union. A local trade union body can be set up with just three employees.
Where safety representatives are elected, the number depends on the total number of employees and the nature of the risks. The legislation states that the number to be elected should be decided by the company after consultation with the election committee (see section on elections). However, once there are 10 employees at least one safety representative should be elected.
There is no legal obligation to establish a health and safety committee. However, these exist in some workplaces
Research by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 2014 found that 58% of workplaces in the Czech Republic had health and safety representatives. This is exactly the same as the EU-28 average, which is also 58%. The proportion of workplaces in the Czech Republic with health and safety committees, at just 8% is well below the EU-28 average of 21%. (The figures are for workplaces with five or more employees.)
Tasks and rights
Employees have a right to be involved in health and safety issues through their union organisation or through elected safety representatives by means of both information and consultation.
The employer should consult with the union, elected safety representatives or employees themselves on:
- substantial issues relating to health and safety;
- risk assessment and the implementation of measures to reduce risks, as well as the job classification in relation to risk;
- the organisation of training; and
- the designation of a qualified individual responsible for risk prevention.
In addition, the employer should provide information to the union, the elected safety representatives or the employees themselves on: the appointment of employees organising first aid, alerting emergency services and employee evacuation; and the selection and provision of occupational health care.
The union, the safety representatives or the employees themselves should work with the employer so that the employer can provide safe working conditions and comply with health and safety regulations and the instructions given by the national inspectorate. They should be involved in internal annual health and safety checks.
As well as training, the employer should also provide the union or the safety representatives with documents relating to: risk assessment and the measures taken to eliminate or reduce risk; records of industrial injuries and occupational diseases; and the results of inspections carried out by the national inspectorate. The union or the safety representatives also have the right to comment to the national inspectorate when they inspect the workplace.
Trade unions also have a number of rights that are not available to elected safety representatives. In particular they are able to conduct negotiations and reach collective agreements on health and safety issues with the employer.
They also have the right to ensure that the law on health and safety and other issues, as well as the provisions of collective agreements, are being complied with. As well as access to the workplace the union should be given the necessary documentation by management and management should cooperate with the union during the inspection. It should also report on the measures taken to eliminate areas of non-compliance.
The union has specific health and safety powers to:
- check whether the employers has created the conditions for safe working and has eliminated risks;
- make regular inspections of the workplace and the employer’s facilities, and check on the management of personal protective equipment; and
- be involved in the investigation of industrial injuries and their causes and check whether the employer investigate them properly.
The government bears the cost of the unions’ supervision of health and safety.
However, the right of the union to order the employer to make changes if there are deficiencies in health and safety provision and to require work to be stopped if the danger is imminent was removed by the constitutional court ruling in 2008.
Frequency of meetings
The frequency of meetings is not specified in the legislation.
Election and term of office
The rules regulating the choice of union representatives dealing with health and safety are a matter for the union. However, where safety representatives are elected, the labour code lays down a number of elements in the electoral procedure.
One key provision is that the process of electing safety representatives (and a works council) only begins if there is a written proposal from at least one third of employees that such an election should take place. Without a request from this proportion of employees, there is no requirement for the employer to set up health and safety representation. Once an adequately supported request has been received, the employer has three months to organise an election, which should be organised by an election committee, made up of between three and nine employees, chosen in the order in which they signed the request for employee representation. The election committee draws up the rules for the election but it must ensure that all employees have the right to vote and be elected. The election results are only valid if more than half of the employees who are able to vote (taking account of absences) do so.
The rules governing the term of office for union representatives dealing with health and safety are set by the union. For elected safety representatives, the term of office is three years.
Resources, time off and training
Union representatives and elected safety representatives have a right to paid time off to undertake their duties. The employer should also provide and pay for the conditions to enable them exercise their functions effectively. This could include the provision of the appropriate rooms and technical equipment, as well as access to the necessary documentation.
The employer should also provide them with training on health and safety issues and there is also a right to up to five days’ paid time off for union training per year.
Protection against dismissal
Both union representatives and elected safety representatives are protected by the section in the labour code which states that employee representatives should not be placed at a disadvantage or discriminated against because of their activities.
Other elements of workplace health and safety
Risk prevention is one of the responsibilities of employers but those with 25 employers or fewer do not need to appoint a specialist employee to carry out .this task. They can do it themselves, provided they have the “necessary competency”. Employers with between 26 and 500 workers can carry out the task themselves or delegate it to someone who is professionally competent in this area. Those employing more than 500 are obliged to use the services of a “professionally competent person”, although this individual must not necessarily be directly employed.
The ministry responsible for health and safety at work is the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí). The body responsible for monitoring compliance with health and safety laws and regulations is the State Labour Inspection Office (Státní úřad inspekce práce).
Trade unions and employers are able to influence health and safety policy through their participation in the main tripartite body, the Council of Economic and Social Agreement (Rada Hospodářské a Sociální Dohody – RHSP), which regularly discusses health and safety issues. The tripartite body under the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is the Government Council for Safety, Hygiene and Health at Work (Rada vlády pro BOZP) with four permanent committees and several ad-hoc working groups.
Law 262/2006, as amended, Labour Code
Law 309/2006 (OHS), as amended
Governmental Decree 101/2005 (Workplace and Working environment) as amended
Governmental Decree 361/2007 as amended (Occupational health)
Zákon č. 262/2006 Sb. V platném znění, Zákoník práce
Zákon č. 309/2006 Sb. o zajištění dalších podmínek bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci
Nařízení vlády č. 101/2005 Sb. o podrobnějších požadavcích na pracoviště a pracovní prostředí
Nařízení vlády č. 361/2007 Sb., kterým se stanoví podmínky ochrany zdraví při práci
 Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2016
 For more information on the national context see OSH system at national level – Czech Republic by Ferenc Kudász and Šárka Vlková , OSH Wiki https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/OSH_system_at_national_level_-_Czech_Republic
Unlike many other eastern European countries, employee ownership as a form of employee financial participation enjoyed no special treatment in the privatization process and consequently plays no significant role in the ownership structure of the Czech economy. Profit-sharing schemes are somewhat more common.
Very few concessions were made to insiders in the privatization process in the Czech Republic. As a consequence, unlike other eastern European countries, the share of employee ownership resulting from the large-scale privatization programmes in 1991–1995 was quite low.
The privatization program started in the Czech Republic in the early 1990s and involved three main schemes: restitution, small-scale privatization and large-scale privatization.1 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '1
1. See also Kocenda, E. and Svejnar, J. (2003): Ownership and Company Performance after Large-Scale Privatization. (2003). William Davidson Institute Working Paper No. 471a.
Share Ownership: Out of 1,688 state enterprises transformed into joint-stock companies in the course of the privatization process, 480 proposed and received approval to privatize part of their shares as employee shares. At the end of the day, only 171 actually gave shares to their employees.1 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '1
1. See also “The PEPPER III Report: The Czech Republic” (2006)
In the framework of voucher privatization the portion of shares allocated to employees was only about 1.5% of total shares under consideration. Some companies – private, as well as privatized and joint-venture companies – had introduced other forms of employee ownership independently of the privatization process. Some issued ‘employee shares’ while others gave employees the right to buy shares. In most cases their ownership share in the company remained insignificant (that is, as low as 1%). With regard to stock options, these are generally only available to top management (especially in banking and telecommunications). They are also used sometimes in small, new-technology-based start-ups, but no information is available on their scope or relative importance.
According to the fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS)2 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '2
2. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2012): Fifth European Working Conditions Survey, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
The legal framework in the Czech Republic does not contain any specific laws or measures regarding employee financial participation. Share acquisitions by employees and profit-sharing in joint-stock companies are the only forms of corporate ownership made available to employees by law. Cooperatives are regulated by a special legal framework. Since the end of the privatisation wave in the 1990s, the issue of employee financial participation has attracted little political attraction.
Employee share ownership in the Czech Republic has two sources: the privatization process and the acquisition of shares on a preferential basis in private companies.
The privatization process provided two opportunities for acquiring employee shares: through the privatization plan submitted by the management of every company and through voucher privatization.1 var obj = document.getElementById('note_hidden'); obj.value = obj.value + '1
1. For the following description see also Lowitzsch, J. t al. (2006): The PEPPER III Report: The Czech Republic.
Employee financial participation is not on the agenda of Czech trade unions at present, and there is little probability of them supporting it in the middle term.
- Lowitzsch, J. et.al (2006): The PEPPER III Report: Promotion of Employee Participation in Profits and Enterprise Results in the New Member and Candidate Countries of the European Union, Rome/Berlin: Inter-University Centre at the Institute for Eastern European Studies.
- Lowitzsch, J., Hashi, I. & Woodward, R. (2009): The PEPPER IV Report: Benchmarking of Employee Participation in Profits and Enterprise Results in the Member and Candidate Countries of the European Union. Country Profile “Czech Republic”.
- European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2010): European Company Survey 2009. Overview. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
- European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2007): Financial participation of employees in the European Union: Much ado about nothing? Background paper.
- European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2012): Fifth European Working Conditions Survey, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
- Myant, M. (2010): Trade Unions in the Czech Republic. Brussels: ETUI, Report 115.
- Mygind, N. (2012): Trends in employee ownership in Eastern Europe, in: The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23:8, 1611-1642.
- Clifford Chance (2010): Employee Share Plans in Europe and the USA.
- Kocenda, E. & Svejnar, J. (2003): Ownership and Company Performance after Large-Scale Privatisation. William Davidson Institute Working Paper No. 471a.
- Czech Code of Laws (in Czech language)
- CMKOS - Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (En)
- KOVO - Czech Metalworkers' Federation
- OSD - transport workers’ union
- ECHO - energy and chemistry workers' union
- OSH - firefighters' union
- OS PHGN - miner’s union
- OSPO - salesmen’s union
- STATORG - official’s union
- NOS PČR - policemen’s union
- OS STAVBA - builder’s union
- OSZ - health workers' union
- PHCR - hotel and catering workers' union
- UNIOS - CMKOS affiliate
- ČMOS PŠ - teacher’s union
- VOS - university teachers' union
- SPCR - Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic
- KZPS - Confederation of Employers and Entrepreneurs Associations