The so-called “big amendment” to the Czech Labour Code is currently under preparation in the Czech Republic. The amendment consists of many interesting proposed changes, one of which, in particular, stands out: the amendment of the Labour Code’s annual leave provision.

The amendment proposes to extend mandatory annual leave from four to five weeks for private sector employees. The proposal submitted by the Czech and Moravian Communist party thereby aims to eliminate differences between the public and private sector with respect to annual leave as a matter of law, even though market practice is that most employers already provide the fifth week of annual leave voluntarily as a benefit.

Supporters of the amendment argued that five weeks’ annual leave is already effectively standard in the private sector, because of that market practice. The Trade Union association went even further and claimed that it perceives the difference in the length of statutory annual leave between public and private sector as discriminatory, though it is hard to see any legal basis for this.

However, the Czech Association of Industry and Commerce is against the amendment. They argue that the change, if enacted, coupled with current market practice regarding annual leave, would effectively force employers to provide six weeks of annual leave, as one extra week will still likely be offered as a benefit because of its long-standing nature.

The annual leave amendment is currently in the preparatory stage and the Czech government will not review it until February 2019.

Good news for employers is that this amendment is not part of the government’s legislative program, and the traditional Leftist parties are significantly weaker after the last election. The bad news is that the fate of the “big amendment” will be decided by the Czech PM’s party which forms the government with the Czech Social Democratic party, which supported similar proposals historically, and has a friendly history with the Czech and Moravian Communist party who advanced it in the first place. Serious opposition seems unlikely.