• 17 Jun 2022 4:34 PM
    Message # 12819689

    In the previous article of our series, we presented the regular work schedule by the employer, which most often means an 8-hour working time per day. However, in many cases the effective functioning of the employer cannot be achieved in this system, and it becomes necessary to schedule working time more freely. In this article we will discuss the irregular work schedule which serves the above purpose, and which is implemented by the working time banking and the payroll period under Hungarian labour law, which, despite their practical advantages, are not so well known.


    The previous part of the article is available here: TIME IS MONEY! — PART II: QUANTITY OF WORKING TIME AND RULES FOR ITS SCHEDULE - Blog - Smartlegal

    1. Applying non-general rules

    In our previous article, we noted that according to the standard work pattern, the employee works from Monday to Friday, in most cases 8 hours a day. But, what about different cases? Think, for example of a factory, a shop that is open in the weekends, or a construction site, in which cases it is inevitable that employees will work different shifts, on weekends, or at different frequencies per season.

    On the basis of the standard work pattern and regular work schedule, the above schedules are not possible, with a few exceptions[1]. The following table shows the advantages of irregular work schedule system, usually by using a working time banking in comparison with the standard work pattern.

    2. What the irregular work schedule means?

    The use of irregular work schedule may create an opportunity for the organisation of working time described above, which the employer has the right to order unilaterally. The essence of this institution is that the employee could be assigned to different working hours on a daily or weekly basis. In such a case, crowded, more burdened periods and looser periods alternate. Using the irregular work schedule makes possible to shift working hours from looser periods to days when there is a high work load.

    Based on the provision of the LC[2] we can talk about irregular work schedule if the working time is allocated differently from the regular daily working time by the employer, i.e., the employee does not work 8 hours a day. Furthermore, in cases where the weekly rest day is not allocated to two days a week, or the weekly rest period is not allocated to 48 hours per week.

    In any of the above cases, the case of irregular work schedule is realized, however it is important that the change in the start of the daily working hours alone does not mean an irregular work schedule.

    3. Limitations of irregular work schedule

    It can be seen that irregular work schedule can give the employer a great deal of freedom, however it is crucial to point out that even in the case of irregular schedule, the employee works the same amount of time (about 168 hours per month) as those who work under the general rules. However, in such cases it is possible to work the specified amount of time irregularly, e.g., on different days and/or in "shifts" of different lengths[3].

    We would also like to draw attention to the fact that in case of irregular work schedule the working time of the employee should not exceed 12 hours per day and 48 hours per week[4] in basic cases[5].

    In addition to the above requirements, we must pay attention to the rest periods (rest breaks, daily rest period, weekly rest day/rest period), as well. The LC stipulates that after 6 consecutive working days a rest day must be provided.

    4. What methods can be used to schedule working time irregularly

    The schedule described above can be achieved by two methods: by applying a working time banking or a payroll period.

    a. Working time banking

    In the case of a working time banking the employer determines the working time to be fulfilled taking into account a longer period (frame) and may allocate it irregularly as detailed above.

    The employer may unilaterally decide to introduce a working time banking, it does not require the consent of the employees.

    The starting and ending dates can be up to 4 months or 16 weeks, but in some cases this period can be increased to 6 months or 26 weeks[6] or even 36 months[7]. The starting and ending dates must be communicated to the employee in writing.

    After the given period, the employer may order a new working time banking, however, before that, it is always obliged to settle accounts with the employee.

    Since the work to be carried out during the working time banking corresponds on average to the regular daily working time, the question arises, how to settle accounts, when the employment relationship ceases before the expiry of that frame.

    In this case, LC examines the following aspects: the amount of the remuneration; who terminated the employment relationship and for what reason; have the employee worked more or less before termination.

    In the light of the above the LC stipulates, for example, a higher remuneration or repayment of the excess amount already paid, in any case in order to ensure that the employee receives a fair and proportionate remuneration compared to the regular daily working time.

    b. Payroll period

    A less common way of irregular work scheduling compared to the working time banking is the payroll period, in which the employee performs the weekly working time during a longer period specified by the employer, starting with the week concerned.

    In practice, this means that, for example, if the payroll period in question starts from 1st January and lasts for 16 weeks, the working time of the first week between 1st and 7th January shall be performed until the end of the 16th calendar week (first payroll period), the working time of the second week between 8th  and 14th  January shall be performed until the end of the 16-week period starting from 8 January, i.e. It must be completed by the end of the 17th calendar week (second accounting period).

    Although several rules of the working time banking are applicated during payroll period, it is important that the two institutions must be separated from each other.[8]

    5. Summary

    Based on the above it can be seen that in many cases employers can deviate from the general rules of working hours and use irregular work schedule, which allows longer daily working time, working time scheduling for weekends, or even to use different shifts. On the basis of LC these schedules can be carried out by using a working time banking or payroll period.

    However, it is important that regular daily working time and standard work pattern are the basics of this schedule too, so an employee who works in irregular work schedule, at the end of the given period, will work the same amount of working time that an employee who works in regular work schedule.

    In our next article, we will describe the cases in which the employer gives the employee the right to schedule working hours.


    [1] e.g. the employee would be employed in a stand-by job (detailed in our latest article), or the employees working in shifts (80 hours per week) or the employer operates in seasonal work (related to a period or time of the year), etc.

    [2] act I of 2012 on the Labour Code

    [3] See in our previous article

    [4] pursuant to section 99(7) the duration of the weekly working time shall always be taken into account on average within a specified period of time

    [5] pursuant to section 99(3) of the LC in the case of stand-by jobs or if the employee relative of the employer or the owner, daily working hours up to 24 hours, weekly working hours up to 72 hours

    [6] section 94(2): e.g. stand-by job, or when employees working in shifts, or the employer operates in seasonal work,

    [7] section 94(3) if is justified by technical reasons or reasons related to work organization, based on the provision of a collective agreement

    [8] An important difference, for example, is that while each working time banking follows each other and only one guide at the same time, payroll periods are built on each other. 

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