Significant amendments to the Labor Code of Georgia came into force. According to the implemented changes, the concept and meaning of discrimination in labor relations have been expanded and explained in detail. A provision was added to the Code to pay equal for work performed by women and men. However, the burden of proving disputes in order to facilitate the elimination of discrimination was fully borne by the employer.
Another important news is that the Labor Code defines the legal status of an intern, which until now was left out of the regulation. The Code defines an intern as a natural person who, in return for or without pay, performs certain work in order to gain qualifications, professional knowledge, skills or practical experience. The Code sets out some important provisions regarding the intern:
- The employer is prohibited from using the intern's labor in order to avoid concluding an employment contract;
- The intern does not replace the employee and the employer does not have the right to hire an intern to replace the employee with whom the employment was terminated and / or terminated;
- The term of unpaid internship should not exceed 6 months, and the term of paid internship - 1 year;
- The same person has the right to do an internship with the same employer only once;
- The relationship between the parties should be regulated by a written agreement, which should include a detailed description of the work to be performed by the intern.
The Code also regulates issues related to pregnancy and newborn care, namely:
- The number of days off for pregnancy, childbirth and child care has been changed (total length of paid leave - 126 calendar days, and in case of complications of childbirth or birth of twins - 143 calendar days);
- If the condition of a pregnant, newborn or breastfeeding female employee does not allow her to perform the work specified in the employment contract on the basis of a medical report, she has the right, within a reasonable period of time, to request work performed in accordance with her health condition;
- In case of inability to alleviate the working conditions of the woman or transfer her to a light job, the employee is released from performing the duties provided for in the employment contract, taking into account the period specified in the medical report, as well as the fact of pregnancy, newborn and lactation;
- After the end of the leave due to pregnancy and childbirth, child care, as well as the adoption of a newborn, at the request of the employee, the employer is obliged to provide training for the employee.
The amendments also regulated the work schedule of minors, in particular:
- The working hours of a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 should not exceed 36 hours per week and 6 hours per day;
- The working hours of a minor between the ages of 14 and 16 should not exceed 24 hours per week and 4 hours per day;
- The duration of overtime work for a minor should not exceed 2 hours during the day and 4 hours during the week.
The updated Labor Code introduced a new term - "part-time work", which obliges the employer in relation to a part-time employee (for example: the employer must take into account the employee's desire to move to full-time work, or vice versa, as far as possible).
A regulation on "night work" has been added to the Code, according to which, at the request of the employee, the employer is obliged to provide medical examination for the employee at night at his own expense. However, a person employed as a night worker who, according to a medical report, has health problems due to performing night work, should, if possible, be transferred by the employer to a day job suitable for such an employee.
Provisions regulating a completely new relationship appeared in the Code - the so-called "Transfer of an enterprise" means the transfer of an enterprise or business or part of it to another employer under a transaction or law, including the transfer of an economic activity in which its identity and / or substantial similarity is retained. However, the Code also imperatively stipulates that it is inadmissible for the transferor of the enterprise or the recipient of the enterprise to terminate the employment contract on the basis of the transfer of the enterprise.
A new chapter on "Providing Information and Consulting in the Workplace" has been added to the Code. Employees have the right to choose their representative. In an enterprise with less than 50 employees, the employer is obliged to provide information to the representatives on the following issues: the current and possible development of the enterprise and its economic situation; On the employment status, structure, possible development and planned activity of the enterprise, which may have a significant impact on the employees' remuneration and working conditions and / or threaten the continuation of the employment relationship.
The Labor Code also regulated the rights and responsibilities of the Labor Inspection Service. The Labor Inspectorate has been given extensive mandates, including the right to impose sanctions on cases of labor rights violations. In turn, another important news is that there are specific sanctions for violating the norms of the Labor Code.
The article on mass dismissal has been completely changed and brought in line with EU directives. If the employer is planning a mass dismissal, he is obliged to start consultations within a reasonable time with the intention of reaching a possible agreement with the employees' union. Consultations should include ways and means of preventing mass layoffs or reducing the number of employees to be laid off. Employees should be given the opportunity to submit constructive proposals. The employer is obliged to inform the employees' union in writing of the following information: reasons for planned mass dismissal, number and category of employees to be dismissed, total number and categories of employees in the organization, period of time during which the mass dismissal will be carried out, criteria for recruiting employees and others.
However, it should be noted that the main part of the amendments to the Labor Code came into force on September 29, 2020, and part of the amendments will come into force gradually, from 2021 (January / April / September). For example, from 2021, the obligation of the employer to enter into a written and / or electronic record of the working time of the employees on the working day and to keep the record of the working time (working hours) for 1 year. In connection with this change, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia was instructed to define and develop an appropriate form for recording working hours.