The strategic state enterprise lost the court to its employee Petr Hradil. He sued the post office in 2016 because, as a driver employed in Olomouc, he received over four years a wage assessed by post by post of CZK 18,080, which was three thousand crowns lower than the wage paid by the post office to the driver Jan Smutný, who worked in Prague. The measured performance component of wages also differed by three hundred crowns. Smutný was later transferred as a driver to Brno, where he was assigned a lower salary – also 18,080 crowns.
The post office justified the payment of a higher wage in Prague, among other things, by saying that it was more complicated, more responsible and more laborious with regard to the size of the region and the operation in several parts and buildings. The Supreme Court has now rejected the mail appeal.
“From the point of view of the principle of equal pay, there are no significant socio-economic conditions for assessing whether a job is the same or a work of equal value and the corresponding cost of meeting the living needs of the place where the employee works,” judgment. The courts have yet to decide on the method of settlement between Hradil and the post office.
In the meantime, the Post Office is acquainted with the verdict and will consider whether it will defend itself by filing a constitutional lawsuit. “The post office is of the opinion that it rewards employees according to valid standards. The methodology for calculating the tariff wage should be the subject of a broader debate, which would take into account the ratio between income and expenditure in different localities. This also applies to other companies from various industries, “Matyáš Vitík, a spokesman for the post office, told the E15 daily.
The court thus set a significant precedent. “The verdict is the first of its kind, because so far the Supreme Court has only dealt with equal pay at the same or very close workplaces,” says lawyer Tomáš Procházka from Eversheds Sutherland. “The verdict has the potential to trigger an avalanche of lawsuits with employees,” he added.
This potential is to be fulfilled by one of the trade unions within the Czech Post SOS 21. In 2015, its chairman Petr Pohl announced that the organization would file a class action lawsuit against the post office on behalf of almost five hundred employees from Brno, Olomouc and North Moravia due to unequal remuneration of employees in the same positions. .
However, the unions overtook the driver Hradil with their solo lawsuit, so they withdrew from the mass lawsuit and waited for the outcome of his trial. They know him today and want to respond to him.
“I will contact anyone who would like us to handle their lawsuits. I expect to submit them by the end of the year at the latest. I estimate that half of all the post office drivers, who are almost a thousand, will file a lawsuit, “Pohl told the E15 daily. Although the unions cannot file a class action in this case, they mediate the settlement of individual lawsuits with a law firm.
The post office does not face “only” hundreds of lawsuits from drivers. “If the driver succeeds in court, it is likely that he will succeed in other positions as well. At the lowest, the difference in wages in Prague and the rest of the country ranges from 2.5 to about 5.5 thousand per month, “claims Pohl, referring, for example, to couriers.
Lawyer Procházka criticizes the current legislation. “It was supposed to prevent discrimination, and instead, through the court, it introduced economic nonsense in the form of equal wages throughout the Czech Republic,” he says. “If we want to take this rule applied by the Supreme Court to the extreme, for example, all workers in Škoda should have the same wages as in Volkswagen, Germany,” he adds. According to him, companies will either begin to circumvent the obligation or the Labor Code will be amended.
But the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is not going to do that. “The Ministry does not plan legislative changes in the area of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, much less in connection with the Supreme Court ruling,” the ministry told Minister Jana Maláčová (ČSSD) when asked by the E15 daily.
The current wording of the legislation is also defended by the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions. “The fact that some employers are violating it is not a reason to change the regulation. A driver in Uherský Brod cannot receive less just because he does not work in Prague. Should the remuneration of police or firefighters differ? No, “notes union leader Josef Středula.