3rd March 2022

Ombudsman: how to improve treatment of EU workers

More than 1,000 respondents participated in the survey. Around a third of them felt disadvantaged compared to domestic workers because of their nationality or citizenship, mainly pertaining to remuneration, job allocation and job search, even though unequal treatment on the grounds of nationality or citizenship is prohibited. For EU workers, the likelihood of being discriminated increases for less qualified positions, for agency employees, and workers with poorer knowledge of the Czech language.

Based on the findings, the ombudsman issued several recommendations aimed at strengthening the foreign workers’ rights mainly by increasing their awareness and the enforceability of their rights. Entities that may contribute to the successful implementation of these recommendations include ministries, the State Labour Inspection Office, municipalities, and regions.

In the recommendations, the ombudsman emphasises the need to publish comprehensible and up-to-date information on employee rights and obligations, in Czech and foreign languages, especially in English. In our practice, we often encounter situations where we cannot refer a foreigner to a reliable source of information that would clarify the issue. The ombudsman also proposes to strengthen the language skills of staff dealing with the foreigners’ agenda, such as officers of the Department of Asylum and Migration, the foreigners’ police, labour offices, as well as staff in the transport administration area. Although Czech is the official language, involved staff should be capable of conducting basic communication (for example an explanation of what documents must be submitted with the application, etc.) in a foreign language.

The ombudsman also calls for cooperation between the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the embassies of the EU countries in informing foreign workers – especially in the countries from which most foreign workers come to the Czech Republic. Embassy or consulate staff should be able to direct foreigners to offices in the Czech Republic or information sources where they can obtain relevant information. To further improve the situation, it is also necessary to continuously update institutional websites in a foreign language and especially the sections relevant to foreign workers: such as the competences of the office, filing requirements, and contact persons.

Importantly, the ombudsman also calls on the State Labour Inspection Office to continue its checks of illegal and agency employment of foreigners who are EU citizens and recommends that the office focus on a new area as well: the equal treatment of EU workers. Checks of equal treatment are now a hot topic even in areas unrelated to foreign affairs (such as remuneration). The office has not yet published its annual plan of inspections for 2022; however, it is possible they will expand their inspection activity in this respect, based on the ombudsman’s recommendations.

Romana Szuťányirszutanyi@kpmg.cz+420 703 873 693

Markéta Čurdovámcurdova@kpmg.cz+420 222 124 112


Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic