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Employers Associations and Trade Unions in Hungary

1. Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Organizations

The Constitution of Hungary and the Hungarian Labour Code implements the freedom of association, which in principle was declared in numerous international treaties. The freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution of Hungary and the Hungarian Labour Code entitles both the employees and the employers to organise representative organisations for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests and to join or refrain from joining such organisations.

2. Rights and Importance of Trade Unions

The trade unions are special civil organisations with legal personality. Trade unions are authorized to establish their internal organisation, establish the rules of their operation and elect their representatives.

The employers’ organisations consist of companies and groups of companies instead of individuals. Employers’ organisations are typically organised on a territorial and/or professional basis and/or on the basis of company size. The employers’ organisations are authorized to conclude collective bargaining agreements with trade unions.

3. Types of Representation

There are two types of representation of trade unions:

  • trade union which operates an organization authorized for its representation at the employer;
  • trade union, which has an officer at the employer.

4. Number of Representatives

If the average statistical number of employees employed during the previous calendar year at the employer is:

  • not more than five hundred, the number of the representatives shall be one;
  • more than five hundred but not more than one thousand, the number of the representatives shall be two;
  • more than one thousand but not more than two thousand, the number of the representatives shall be tree;
  • more than two thousand but not more than four thousand, the number of the representatives shall be four;
  • more than four thousand, the number of the representatives shall be five.

5. Appointment of Representatives

The trade union is entitled to appoint the representatives.

6. Tasks and Obligations of Representatives

The trade union representatives have the following tasks: (i) to promote and protect the employees’ interests related to their employment, in particular to conclude a collective agreement with the employer and (ii) to participate in the decision making process of the employer regarding the working conditions.

7. Employees’ Representation in Management

For the purpose of exercising the employees’ right of participation in the employers’ decisions and influencing the working conditions, the employees may establish:

  • works councils if the average number of employees employed by the employer (or at its branch office) exceeds 50,
  • shop steward, if the average number of employees employed by the employer (or at its branch office) is between 16 and 50.

Depending on the number of employees and the type of works council, the number of the works council members shall be at least three but maximum fifteen.

8. Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies

A shop steward or a works council shall be elected in order to represent the employee before the employer. Their role is to help the cooperation between the employer and the employees.

The works councils are elected for a five years term. The justified expenses incurred in connection with the election and operation of the works council shall be borne by the employer.

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