Critics Call Hungary’s New Overtime Wage Policy a “Slave Law”

A new law in Hungary allows employees to work up to 400 hours of overtime every year. However, the new law also permits employers to delay overtime wage payments for up to three years. Critics call the new legislation a slave law. Labor unions have pointed out that Hungarians already struggled with low wages and poor working conditions. This new law may further damper workers’ rights in Hungary. "And now to give employers, especially multinational companies who want even lower wages, so much more power over workers, it's very unfair," says László Kordás, the head of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation.

Reactions in Hungary

Thousands have protested in Budapest ever since Hungarian lawmakers approved the new overtime law. Protestors waved Hungarian and European Union flags. One hand-made sign read: "All I want for Xmas is democracy." This law particularly affects workers throughout the busy holiday season, as many employees pick up extra hours during this time of year. “This ‘slavery law’ naturally creates a sense of solidarity because it can affect almost every Hungarian citizen,” said Bence Tordai, an opposition party member of Parliament. The Republikon Institute, a Hungarian think tank, determined that 63 percent of Prime Minister Orbán’s supporters disapprove of the new policy. Over 95 percent of the prime minister’s critics also disapprove of it. Hungary’s government has defended the new law, saying it will ease the issue of the shortage of workers in the country. However, many Hungarians still feel strongly that, because of how long overtime payments can be delayed, this legislation is a “slave law.” So far, the Hungarian government has not taken any action to repeal the law.

Overtime Law in the United States

Fortunately, overtime law in the United States does not allow employers to delay overtime payments for such a long period of time. The U.S. federal overtime legislation is contained within the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Overtime-eligible employees must receive overtime wages for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. Overtime pay rates may not be less than time and one-half of an employee’s regular pay rate. There is no limit in the FLSA on the number of overtime hours that adult employees may work in a week. Furthermore, the FLSA requires that employers pay overtime wages on the regular payday for the pay period in which employees worked those hours. In the United States, delaying overtime payments for an extended period of time is illegal.

Seek Legal Assistance Today

Employers are legally required to pay overtime wages in the United States. Do not let unpaid wages ruin your holiday season. If you have not been paid your rightful overtime earnings, seek legal assistance today. The Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.