Taking Counsel: Some Labor Law Amendments Possibly in the Pipeline

  • 2009-07-29
  • By Kristine Sakarne [Kronbergs & Cukste]
Recently the Ministry of Welfare introduced amendments to the Labor law aimed at reducing unclear provisions of the law and introducing additional clauses corresponding to the current employment climate. 

The main areas dealt with under the proposed amendments are provisions regarding vacancy announcements, the secondment of employees and the process of termination.
A new draft requirement has been added to augment existing job vacancy announcement requirements. The present wording is generally aimed at prohibiting any kind of discrimination in the employee selection process. The draft amendments to article 32 require that an employer posting a vacancy also indicate the name (company name) of the employer, or name of the recruitment company that will deal with employee selection on behalf of the potential employer. According to the authors of the amendments, this provision is aimed at simplifying the review of appeals received on violations of law in the employee selection process.

As secondment of employees has been on the rise for some time, a draft amendment to article 14 of the Labor law has been proposed under which the employer will be obliged to notify only the State Labor Inspection (and no longer also the State Border Guards) on the secondment of an employee by submitting in writing particular information (description of the terms of the secondment, particulars of the employer representatives, and information on the person benefiting from the secondment of the employee).

Although this issue is by no means new, a number of employers have increasingly complained about instances of employee abuse of existing law with respect to restrictions to the right of dismissal due to illness. More precisely, it has been found that some employees facing impending dismissal have sought to obtain protected status by entering into sick leave, as there is a bar against terminating employees on sick leave. The requirement that a doctor's certificate be obtained to substantiate the sickness has sadly not always been much of a preventative factor. Although it probably is not as dramatic an improvement to the law as a number of employers would like, the draft amendments introduce the right of an employer to terminate employment with such employee that has been unable to perform its obligations for more than 6 consecutive months, or alternatively for a cumulative period of 1 year (if such period has been interrupted by periods when the employee has performed its obligations). Other norms of the law relating to termination of employment due to continuous sick leave have been accordingly proposed.

Currently employers have the right to terminate employment due to misconduct of the employee under certain kinds of misconduct set out in the law. Such right however evaporates after six months from the date of the misconduct. In reality, it is not always possible for an employer to discover a violation of employment on a timely basis or indeed within a period of six months of the actual violation date. With a view to perhaps improving the employer's situation, it has been proposed that the six month limitation has been extended to 12 months.

The foregoing law amendments were approved by the Latvian Saeima on June 15, 2009 in the first reading. After a review of comments from the members of the Saeima, the amendments are scheduled for the second reading in the autumn of 2009.

Kristine Sakarne is an associate at Kronbergs & Cukste,a founding member of Baltic Legal Solutions, a pan-Baltic legal network dedicated to providing one-stop legal service across the Baltic States. Baltic Legal Solutions is represented in Estonia by Glikman & Partnerid and in Lithuania by Jurevicius, Bartkus & Partners.