Hungary is in the midst of an emigration crisis that has seen roughly five percent of the country’s working-age population immigrate to other European Union countries in recent years. This mass migration has triggered a labor shortage in the country.

In response to the growing labor crisis, the Hungarian Parliament passed amendments to the country’s labor code. These amendments raise the yearly cap on overtime from 250 to 400 hours per year and permit companies to defer overtime payments to employees for up to three years. The previous deferment period for overtime payments under the law was one year. Additionally, the amendments to the law empower employers to enter into overtime arrangements directly with employees notwithstanding unions and already-existing collective bargaining agreements. The Hungarian Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendments, which later were signed into law by President János Áder.

Protests erupted in Budapest over the new law with critics referring to it as the “slave law.” As many as 10,000 protestors took to the streets to demonstrate their opposition to the new law.

Proponents of the bill have stated that the additional overtime will provide those seeking additional work and earnings with a means for attaining it. In addition to providing additional earnings to workers, the law’s ultimate goal, according to proponents, is to attract multinational companies and investors to Hungary.

The law’s future remains uncertain as opposition lawmakers have threatened to seek judicial intervention on grounds that parliamentary procedures were not properly followed while passing the measure.

We will continue to monitor the law and blog about any updates.