1. Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Organizations
Employee and employer organizations are structured as legal entities sui generis, with limited impact from new legal regulation of private associations and public registers contained in the New Civil Code (Act No. 89/2012 Coll.).
In the Czech Republic, trade unions are primarily organized by sector according to the type of business. All workers involved in a particular industry belong to the same union regardless of the nature of their particular job or their occupational qualifications.
Unions are in most cases associated with one of the two major union confederations, of which the larger and more important one is the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions consisting of 39 affiliated unions and representing some 600.000 workers. The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions is an important social partner in tripartite negotiations in the framework of the Council of Economic and Social Agreement of the Czech Republic and through its active role in legislative process significantly affects employment legislation.
The second important union confederation is the Association of Independent Unions founded in 1995 and representing some 200.000 workers.
Next to the two leading union confederations, there are smaller confederations such as the Confederations of Arts and Culture (“KUK”) and the Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.
Employers are also organized into unions or associations. These are established as legal entities sui generis (formerly “civic associations”) according to the Charter and obligations resulting from international legal obligations of the Czech Republic.
The largest and most important employers’ association, which represents a significant part of Czech industry and traffic, is the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic. This Confederation consists of 29 member confederations and some 120 individual members, altogether over 1600 companies with almost one million employees. The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic actively participates in shaping the Czech Government’s economic and social policy in order to create optimal conditions for business development in the country and, as well as the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions on the other side, negotiates within the Council of Economic and Social Agreement of the Czech Republic.
The second important employers’ association is the Confederation of Employer´s and Business´ Unions, which represents employers employing roughly 700.000 employees.
In addition to the two leading employers’ association there are other smaller confederations such as the Union of Czech and Moravian Production Cooperatives, the Union of Business and Tourism etc.
In general, employees and employers organizations are structured as legal entities sui generis, minimally impacted new legal regulation of private associations and public registers contained in the New Civil Code (Act No. 89/2012 Coll.). Trade unions are primarily organized by sector according to the type of business. All workers involved in particular industry belong to the same union regardless of the nature of their particular job or their occupational qualifications.
2. Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
Only trade unions are recognized by the Czech Republic as legal entities with a legal personality and are free to take legal actions (enter into various types contracts, participate as party to the dispute etc.). Trade unions are; of course, free to regulate their internal matters as they deem appropriate. While trade unions are “full” legal entities with legal personalities, the other two inferior forms of “employee representatives” – i.e. employee council and representative for occupational health and safety – are not recognized by the Czech Republic as legal entities.
Legally, trade unions can provide a collective agreement for employees who are not members of any trade union, so not only those employees who have explicitly given the mandate to the relevant trade union, may benefit from the collective agreement concluded within the enterprise. This rule is favourable for employees not motivated to become trade union members.
The rights incurred from a collective agreement by individual employees must be exercised and satisfied as other rights of employees under an employment contract.
3. Types of Representation
The Charter provides that everyone has the right to associate freely with others for the protection of their economic and social interests; trade unions are formed independently of the state. It is prohibited to limit the number of trade union organizations, as well as to favor some of them in business or industry. The activities of trade unions and the formation and activities of other associations for the protection of economic and social interests may be restricted by law only in the case and to the extent, which is of a measure in a democratic society for the protection of national security, public order or the rights and freedoms of others.
4. Number of Representatives
In order for the trade union unit to operate at a particular employer there must be at least three of its members employed by the employer; there are no minimum numbers as to the number of representatives with regard to the size of enterprise or number of workers.
5. Appointment of Representatives
The terms and conditions of the nomination of the representatives of the trade union represent an internal matter of the trade union unit; law or employer cannot interfere in any way in the election and/or nomination of the representatives of the trade union.
6. Tasks and Obligations of Representatives
The representatives are entitled to carry out any unionization activity; such as distributing propaganda and promotion of the unions. The task of employee representatives is to protect all of employees´ interests; this happens particularly through collective bargaining, participation on information and consultation procedure, consultation of notice or immediate termination in advance etc.
7. Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies
An employee council and a representative for occupational health and safety protection may be elected in an employer’s organization. Neither of these two complementary types of employee representatives may conclude a collective agreement, which is an exclusive competence of trade union.
An employee council shall have at least 3 and no more than 15 members. The number of members must always be odd. The total number of representatives for occupational health and safety protection shall depend on the total number of employees employed by the employer and on the risks following from the performed work; however, there may be no more than one such representative per ten employees.