Collective disputes are possible also in the field of employment law. There is an abundance of cases, where employers with their actions violate the rights of larger groups of workers. Such mass violations are sometimes a consequence of ignorance or non-understanding of the legislation in the area of employment law, as well as change in the case law of courts. Finally, they can be also a consequence of conscious decision of employer not to observe rights of workers, other employees, and self-employed persons, who are in a dependent contractual relationship with the employer.
Until the enactment of the institute of collective dispute, workers and other persons had to individually (each for his own part) enforce claims against employer, while now such claims can be also enforced collectively. For the application of class action, it is only essential that due to employer’s actions, higher number of workers suffered losses, and that they were aggrieved in a materially similar way. Therefore, it is important that such violations have characteristics of mass aggrievance, for which the collective protection will be the appropriate solution.
The fundamental obligations of an employer are laid down in the Employment Relationships Act, which basically sets out that the employer must provide the worker with work, payment, safe working conditions, observe workers’ personality and protect his privacy, his dignity at work and his personal data. On the other hand, worker has certain rights, which stems from the employment relationship. Worker's fundamental rights are reciprocal to the mentioned obligations of the employer. Other, more specific rights, are work in a limited period of time or work with afterhours only in the statutorily set out cases, right to have a break during the working hours and rest between two consecutive working days and right to weekly rest, right to annual holiday and holiday allowance, right to receive salary, right to education, and right to severance payment in case of termination of employment relationship.
Typical violations of mass aggrievance in the field of employment law would be:
- erroneous granting of annual holiday (for example, employer does not observe statutory minimum or collective agreement);
- non-observance of employer’s obligation to conclude an employment agreement with worker (employer has, for example, concluded a service agreement with larger number of workers, although it would had to conclude employments agreements; non-observance of protection of dependent workers);
- erroneous imposing of afterhours (employer imposes afterhours, for example, in contradiction with statutory limitations, or to group of workers, on whom it is not allowed to impose afterhours);
- employer does not provide an appropriate break and rest;
- employer systematically violates workers’ rights to industrial safety and health at work (for example, it does not provide workers with adequate protection gear).
Above are mentioned only some of the most typical violations in the area of employment law. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that it comes to numerous other violations in the practice. Insofar you have detected your own case, or case that might be similar, in the above provided examples, and you believe it is likely that your employer had with the same, or similar action, aggrieved also your co-workers, do not hesitate to contact us.