This summary of age discrimination law in Slovakia has been prepared by PRK Partners: www.prkpartners.com/en
Employment discrimination is prohibited by the Constitution of the Slovak Republic (Act No. 460/1992 Coll.) as well as by the Labour Code (Act No. 311/2001 Coll.) and the Anti-Discrimination Act (Act No. 365/2004 Coll., hereinafter the “Act”), which implement the EU's anti-discrimination legislation. During the recruitment process, employers are obliged to observe the provisions in the Act on Employment Services (Act No. 5/2004 Coll.).
The general principles governing discrimination also apply to age discrimination - Slovak legal rules do not provide a more detailed definition of age discrimination. Therefore, direct or indirect discrimination, as well as victimisation, harassment, instruction or encouragement to discriminate based on age are considered to be age discrimination.
Age discrimination can be justified, but only under the circumstances specified in the Act. The Act allows employers a different treatment of age grounds, but only if there is an objective reason following a legitimate aim. This different treatment for age discrimination must be proportional and necessary to reach the aim.
According to the Act, the following conditions are not considered as discrimination, if they are objectively justified, necessary and proportionate to the aim they follow and if regulated by special laws:
- a minimum or maximum age limit as a condition for access to employment,
- special conditions for access to employment or vocational training and special conditions for work performance, including remuneration and dismissal, if it concerns persons of a certain age category and if the aim of these special conditions is to support the incorporation of such persons in the workforce or their protection,
- minimum age conditions, professional experience, or a specified number of years worked for access to employment or to certain advantages in employment.
The Act also stipulates that in the social security system, the different treatment based on age is not discriminatory in the following situations:
- stipulating different age concerning entitlements in retirement or disability pension schemes for employees or groups of employees;
- use of a different calculation for pension allowances depending on the age.
According to the Act, age discrimination is prohibited in labour-law and similar relationships, as well as in relationships pertaining to those relationships.
The ban on discrimination also applies to the self-employed, agency workers and other persons in similar situations. Unfortunately, there is no case law available which would specify in more detail these categories of persons to which the protection would apply.
Furthermore, prohibition of age discrimination is not connected with any specific age limit (i.e. employees over 40 years), as is the case in some countries. It covers both the old and the young.
There are some categories of state employees that are excluded from protection against age discrimination. According to special acts governing the performance of a state service, the following retirement ages apply (the attainment of such age is connected with termination of the state-employment relationship):
- armed forces members (55 years);
- police (55 years and at the same time he/she is entitled to draw pension benefits);
- judges (65 years);
- public prosecutors (65 years);
- university teachers (70 years);
- fire and rescue brigade members (55 years and at the same time he/she is entitled to draw pension benefits).
What enforcement/remedies exist?
There are no criminal sanctions when an individual or company breaches the rules on prohibition of age discrimination.
If a person believes his/her rights, interests protected by law, and/or freedoms have been affected by discrimination, he/she may sue the employer in court and demand: (i) the employer cease such activity, (ii) the employer repair the unlawful situation and/or (iii) the employer provide adequate non-monetary satisfaction (e.g. an apology). In case adequate satisfaction is not deemed sufficient (namely if the person's dignity or reputation is substantially harmed), the harmed person may claim monetary compensation.
Specialised legal entities whose aim or function is protection against discrimination (e.g. non-governmental organisations) may sue an employer on behalf of its employees in court if the breach of discrimination would affect rights, interests protected by law or freedoms of a large or indefinite number of persons or if a public interest would be threatened.
The law does not set a maximum or minimum limit for monetary compensation; claims are unlimited in value. When calculating compensation, the court takes into consideration the consequences of the age discrimination. Claims are bought in general courts – there are no special courts dealing with (age) discrimination in the Slovak Republic.
In addition, in labour-law relations, a penalty up to EUR 100,000 may be imposed by Work Inspectorate on employers who breach the rules on anti-discrimination (including age discrimination).
How common are claims?
Claims concerning discrimination in employment matters are quite rare in the Slovak Republic. Moreover, the number of disputes is decreasing, as employees fear losing their jobs.
As the principle of non-discrimination is quite new, there is no standard case law pertaining to discrimination law in the Slovak Republic at all, including case law on age discrimination. From the information available and after consultation with several NGOs, we have not found any judicial decisions concerning age discrimination in employment matters.
What claims are most common and what are trickiest issues for employers?
We do not expect that blue collar employees will sue their employer for age discrimination. Usually white collar employees in executive functions, who have more legal information, know their rights better and have better access to legal advisors who might potentially initiate a proceeding before the court.
Proceedings concerning an employer’s recruitment process can also be brought, especially if the employer has advertised discriminatory conditions for job seekers (for example “would suit someone younger”).
Are there any specific exceptions in your laws?
Younger employees are more protected than older employees as they may not perform some difficult labour and they may not enter into some special agreements (e.g. indemnity agreement).
There are currently different retirement ages for men and women. The retirement ages for men and women will be unified by 2014.
Furthermore, employees have different rights in respect of paid holiday and notice period depending on their length of service.
Certain categories of employees (state employees) are governed by special laws (as mentioned above, especially with regard to retirement age).
There is no retirement age - an employer may not force an employee to retire when he/she reaches a specific age (e.g. an official age enabling employees to draw pension benefits, please see above). Exceptions to this for special categories of state employees are stipulated in special acts (please see retirement ages mentioned above).
In the Slovak Republic retired employees who draw a pension may also conclude an employment relationship or be self-employed. Moreover, both employees drawing a pension and their employers contribute less to the Social Security insurance than do other employees.
However, achievement of a certain age does not establish a ground for dismissal. The Labour Code only enables the employers to dismiss the employees for grounds specified in the Labour Code (age is not a ground for dismissal). Nevertheless, an employer may dismiss an (old) employee if his/her performance is worse than the performance of other (younger) employees; such dismissal must be, however, objectively justified.
As already mentioned above, there are still no cases concerning age discrimination publicly available in the Slovak Republic.