Although probation may be one of the most well-known legal institutes of the Labour Code and is a standard element of the employment agreements, the latest amendment of the Labour Code will make the parties pay more attention to their related statements.
As of 1 January 2023, the general rule on the duration of the probation period (3 - months or – in the case of a collective bargaining agreement - 6 months) has been amended and it must be established proportionally, if an employment agreement is concluded for a fixed period, with a maximum of twelve months. In the case of renewal of a fixed-term employment agreement or its re-establishment within six months of its termination, no probation period can be included in the agreement if the employee is employed in the same or similar position as previously as in such case probation period would not serve its true purpose.
The general rule that no reasoning is required for the termination handed over during the probation period is no longer true as the employee is entitled to request reasoning in 15 days – and the employer must respond in also 15 days – if the employee is of the opinion that the real reason for the termination was the use of so-called carer's leave, paternity leave, parental leave or unpaid leave to care for a child. The Labour Code lists two other cases as well, however, as the employee is not entitled to request those in the first six months of the employment relationship, those are only applicable if it is explicitly stated in the collective bargaining agreement or other internal regulations.
It is also important that the new rules also make some specific concessions on delivery, namely, the notice of termination with immediate effect during the probation period is still timely if it is posted on the last day of the probation period. If the employee requests reasoning, as set out above, the 15-day deadline for doing so is deemed to have been met even if the request is posted on the last day of the probation period and the same applies to the employer's 15-day deadline for responding.
Based on the above, the conclusion is that transposing the EU directives 2019/1152 and 2019/1158 has made the working conditions in Hungary more transparent and predictable and made a step forward to achieving better work-life balance.