Dismissals in Hungary

1. Dismissal of employees

1.1 Reasons for dismissal

Generally, employees in Hungary are not required to justify ordinary dismissals (“felmondás”) in case of an open-ended employment relationship. Nevertheless, they must observe prescribed notice periods.

If the employer terminates an open-ended employment relationship, as general rule, it must provide a reason for it, which has to be in connection with (i) the behaviour; (ii) skill; (iii) health status of the employee; or (iv) the operation of the employer. However, the employer is not required to give reasons for terminating a permanent employment relationship if the employee in question qualifies as a pensioner.

Certain “vulnerable” employees enjoy additional protection against dismissal (e.g. a more serious infringement to justify a dismissal, an obligation to seek another job profile for the employee in specific cases, etc.). These include women or single parents until their child reaches three years of age as well employees within the five-year period prior to the statutory age limit for a retirement pension.

The employer shall be permitted to terminate a fixed-term employment relationship by notice (i) if undergoing liquidation or bankruptcy proceedings; (ii) for reasons related to the employee’s ability; or (iii) if maintaining the employment relationship is no longer possible due to unavoidable external reasons.

Employees are required to give reasons for terminating their fixed-term employment relationship. The reason given for termination may only be of a nature that would render maintaining the employment relationship impossible or would cause unreasonable difficulties in light of his/her circumstances.

Discriminatory dismissals or dismissals due to “illegal reasons” can be challenged by employees before the relevant court.

1.2 Form

An employment relationship can be terminated only in written form.

1.3 Notice period

The notice period is 30 calendar days, which can increase up to 90 days depending on time spent in employment. 

The parties may agree on a different duration of notice period, but not for longer than six months. 

1.4 Involvement of works council

Only in cases of the termination of the employment relationship of works council representatives. 

1.5 Involvement of a union

Only in cases of the termination of the employment relationship of trade union representatives. 

1.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

No involvement. 

1.7 Collective redundancies

When collective dismissals (“csoportos létszámcsökkentés”) are imminent, employers are required to notify the Hungarian Labour Authority 30 days in advance. For the sake of this notification procedure, collective dismissals are defined as employment terminations affecting:

  • at least ten workers in an establishment of 21 − 99 employees; or
  • 10% or more of the workforce at an establishment of 100 − 299 employees; or
  • at least 30 workers at an establishment of 300 or more employees.

The requirements of the notification procedure are met, if the employer informs the competent Labour Authority in writing and waits 30 days before carrying out the intended dismissals. Any failure to observe these rules will render all pertinent dismissals void.

1.8 Summary dismissals

A summary dismissal (“azonnali hatályú felmondás”) does not require observance of any particular notice periods, but must be issued within 15 days from the perception of the occurrence of the cause of the summary dismissal, but no later than one year after that occurrence of cause. Summary dismissals are possible for good reasons only, as regulated by law. Disloyalty, behaviour, untrustworthiness or persistent refusal to carry out one’s contractually agreed duties are typical reasons for a summary dismissal.

Summary dismissals are effective, even if they do not meet the abovementioned requirements. However, the summary dismissal may then be challenged by the other party before the relevant court.

1.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

Non-compliance by the terminating party with the prescribed or agreed periods or dates of notice qualifies as unlawful termination. In that case, the consequences of the unlawful termination, prescribed by the Hungarian Labour Code, can be enforced by the other party before the relevant court. As to the legal consequences of unfair termination, in case the employee is successful in claiming unfair termination, the employer is under an obligation to pay compensation for lost earnings. The Labour Code caps these damages at 12 months of absence pay. If the contract is terminated for personal reasons by regular notice, the employee could also claim a severance payment from the employer. Outside of this, the employee must prove any further damages (e.g. non-pecuniary damages) during the course of the litigation. The employee may claim reinstatement, but this is permitted only in cases such as discrimination or if the employer terminated the contract of an employee protected from dismissal. In case of reinstatement, the employee can claim lost wages for the period of litigation, which is not subject to the 12-month cap since the employment is treated as continuous.

1.10 Severance pay

An employee shall be entitled to severance pay if his/her employment relationship is terminated (i) by the employer; (ii) upon the dissolution of the employer without succession; or (iii) in case of the transfer of a business undertaking, if the transferee employer does not fall under the scope of the Hungarian Labour Code. 

Entitlement to severance pay shall only apply upon the existence of an employment relationship with the employer during the period of at least three years at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession.

The amount of severance pay increases according to the length of the employment relationship: up to a six-month absence fee (i.e. in practical terms, the base salary).

The employee shall not be entitled to receive severance pay if (i) he/she is recognised as a pensioner at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession; or (ii) he/she is dismissed for reasons in connection with his/her behaviour in relation to the employment relationship or on grounds other than health reasons.

1.11 Non-competition clauses

Non-competition clauses are only valid insofar as they last for no more than two years after the termination of employment. Also, contractual penalties are possible regarding non-compliance with non-competition clauses.

In case of a post-employment non-competition agreements, the employer shall be liable to pay adequate compensation. In determining the amount of compensation, the degree of the impediment that the agreement has on the employee’s ability to find employment elsewhere, in the light of his/her education and experience, shall be taken into consideration. The amount of such compensation, for the term of the agreement, may not be less than one-third of the base salary due for the same period.

1.12 Miscellaneous

Not applicable.

2. Dismissal of managing directors

2.1 Reasons for dismissal

Company may revoke the appointment/terminate the service contract without cause, but in compliance with applicable notice periods and termination dates.

2.2 Form

Valid shareholder’s resolution on revocation of appointment as managing director and on termination of the service or employment contract is required. 

2.3 Notice period

Revocation of appointment: possible without notice.

Termination of the service or employment contract: Hungarian law does provide statutory minimum notice periods from which the parties can deviate in the contract of employment in case of Managing Directors. 

2.4 Involvement of works council

No involvement.

2.5 Involvement of a union

No involvement.

2.6 Approval of state authorities necessary

Not required.

2.7 Collective redundancies

Not applicable.

2.8 Summary dismissals

A summary dismissal (azonnali hatályú felmondás) does not require observance of any particular notice periods, but must be issued within fifteen days from the perception of the occurrence of the cause of the summary dismissal, but no later than one year after that occurrence of cause. Summary dismissals are possible for good reasons only, as regulated by law. Disloyalty, behaviour, untrustworthiness or persistent refusal to carry out one’s contractually agreed duties are typical reasons for a summary dismissal.

Summary dismissals are effective, even if they do not meet the abovementioned requirements. However, the other party may challenge the summary dismissal before the relevant court. 

2.9 Consequences if requirements are not met

If there is no valid shareholder resolution, the revocation of appointment as managing director will be invalid.

It is possible for the revocation to be valid, but for the termination of the service or employment contract to be invalid. If this is the case, the managing director is entitled to continued payment of salary and adequate employment.

2.10 Severance pay

An employee shall be entitled to severance pay if his/her employment relationship is terminated (i) by the employer; (ii) upon the dissolution of the employer without succession; or (iii) in case of a transfer of the business undertaking, if the transferee employer does not fall under the scope of the Hungarian Labour Code.  

Entitlement to severance pay shall only apply upon the existence of an employment relationship with the employer during a period of at least three years at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession. 

The amount of severance pay increases according to the length of the employment relationship up to a six-month absence fee (i.e. in practical terms, the base salary). 

The employee shall not be entitled to receive severance pay if (i) he/she is recognised as a pensioner at the time when the notice of dismissal is delivered or when the employer is terminated without succession; or (ii) he/she is dismissed for reasons in connection with his/her behaviour in relation to the employment relationship or on grounds other than health reasons.

2.11 Non-competition clauses

Non-competition clauses are only valid insofar as they last for no more than two year after the termination of employment. Also, contractual penalties are possible regarding non-compliance with non-competition clauses. 

In case of post-employment non-competition agreements, the employer shall be liable to pay adequate compensation. In determining the amount of compensation, the degree of the impediment that the agreement has on the employee’s ability to find employment elsewhere, in the light of his/her education and experience, shall be taken into consideration. The amount of such compensation, for the term of the agreement, may not be less than one-third of the base salary due for the same period.

2.12 Miscellaneous

Not applicable.