After an adoption of the new Labour Code the current situation in Lithuania is not cheerful. It is true that after the Lithuania’s parliamentary elections in October 2016 a new political force came to rule and political situation changed a lot. Therefore, tripartite social dialogue got more constructive and the Tripartite Council gained more influence to shape the new Labour Code, which is coming into force on 1 July. There are some positive changes but trade unions do not celebrate the outcome of this process.
We note that during the negotiations of the Tripartite Council social partners were not on equal grounds. Before it started the Lithuanian government stated that those aspects, on which the Tripartite council will not agree, will stay as stated in the previous version of the Labour Code (which had to come into force on 1 January 2017). The previous version was very liberal and much more favorable to employers.
Sadly, good intentions of the new government backfired. Employers were not motivated to seek a consensus. The previous situation was more convenient and useful to them.
A postponement of the new Labour Code is praiseworthy but that did not led to immense changes related to workers welfare. As it was mentioned before, employers had an upper hand in the Tripartite Council. Comparing the new Labour Code and the Labour Code, which entered into force in 2003, workers’social rights are undermined.
In the new Labour Code redundancy notice period got shorter and severance pay got smaller. Furthermore, there was established a new legitimate provision that an employer is allowed to fire an employee practically without any reason just in 3 days. In this case an employer has to pay a compensation, which amounts to 6 average salaries.
There are more negative changes. Vacations are shortened and a work week got longer. If employees worked 48 hours a week at most, now in some cases it reaches 60 hours a week.
We may add, that strike announcement procedures in Lithuania were liberalized, but here are some problems too. For example, it is legal for employees to strike, if their employer disagrees to sign a collective agreement, but it is not legal to do that, if employers break a collective agreement.