Labour Research (November 2016)

European news

Lithuania adopts new labour code

In a further twist in the long-running story of the Lithuanian government’s attempts to change employment law, the Lithuanian parliament has overruled the president’s veto and adopted a revised new labour code.

Among a range of changes, the new legislation makes it easier and cheaper to dismiss workers, reduces restrictions on overtime working, and introduces zero hours contracts for the first time. It also strengthens the role of works councils at the expense of trade unions. 

The unions have consistently opposed the revised code, which they see as worsening workers’ conditions. They appeared to have successfully blocked it when it was vetoed by the president in July. 

But on 14 September, parliament overruled the veto with a 74 to 39 vote, a decision which the Lithuanian prime minister, Algirdas Butkevicius, described as introducing “one of the most important reforms after gaining independence”. 

However, even this was not the end of the story. In accepting parliament’s decision, Butkevicius agreed that further amendments to the code could be accepted before it came into effect. 

The amendments were discussed on 18 October, the last opportunity for a debate on the code before parliamentary elections on 23 October. But although they were passed, there were not enough members present for their decision to be valid. As a result, unless the new government decides otherwise, the revised code will come into effect on 1 January 2017.

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