This year there have been several significant changes in the field of occupational safety: from February in some cases, it has become possible to complete occupational safety training under simplified conditions, and from March both the occupational safety and labour fines have increased significantly. The changes adopted this year reflect the objectives of the Occupational Safety Policy for the period 2024-2027, and in order to achieve these, the official inspection plan has also been published, identifying the most important focus areas. In our expert summary, we present the key changes that all employers should be aware of.  

The amount of the occupational safety fine increases

The new rules regarding the amount of occupational safety fines are laid down in Government Decree No. 25/2024 (II. 14.), significantly increasing the base amount of the fines and specifying the multipliers that can be used to further increase the fine in certain circumstances. Generally, the amount of the occupational safety fine can range from HUF 100,000 to HUF 100,000,000.

The base amount of the fine

The base amount to be considered when imposing fines depends on the number of employees who were seriously endangered due to the violated occupational safety regulation, with a base fine of HUF 100,000 for each seriously endangered employee.

Factors increasing the fine

Under certain circumstances, the base amount of the fine will be increased according to a specific multiplier. Thus, the government decree defines multipliers as follows:

  • The number of violated occupational safety norms, for example, if the authority detects that the employer violated 2-4 norms defined in the act on occupational safety, the amount of the fine is increased by one and a half times.
  • The duration of the serious endangerment, for example, if it lasts for more than one hour but less than eight hours, the fine is increased by 1.3 times, while if it lasts for more than a month, the fine increases tenfold.
  • Specific outcomes resulting from employer negligence, for example, if a workplace accident or health impairment occurs, the fine is tripled, while in the case of a fatal workplace accident, the fine is increased twentyfold.
  • Repeated violations, thus, if the employer has been fined by the occupational safety authority in a final decision within the three years preceding the procedure, the multiplier is 1.5. However, if multiple fines have been imposed for different violations within that period, the most recently applied multiplier is doubled.

Correcting the amount of the fine

The occupational safety authority can increase or decrease the amount of the fine by up to 20% under certain additional conditions.

Increasing the amount of the fine: The final amount of the fine can be increased by the authority, for example, if the level of hazardous substances present in the workplace exceeds the permissible limit by more than 20%, or if the employer fails to provide the required occupational safety and health services. Other factors that may lead to an increase in the fine include the failure to conduct a necessary risk assessment; the lack of occupational safety training, occupational safety representatives, or health and safety coordinators; and also, the fact that the employer endangers the life or physical integrity of persons within the scope of work activities.

Decreasing the amount of the fine: The authority may also reduce the fine if the employer cooperates with the regulatory procedure if the employee's behaviour contributed to the endangerment, or if the employer implements preventive measures that are stricter than the occupational safety regulations.

Special rules of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as for natural persons

The government decree incorporates special rules that can be applied if no fatal workplace accident occurs due to the employer's negligence.

  • Maximizing the amount of the fine: the maximum amount of the fine is HUF 25,000,000 in the case of micro- and small-sized enterprises and natural person employers, while for medium-sized enterprise employer, it is HUF 50,000,000.
  • Fine decreasing multipliers: the final amount of the fine has a 0,8 times multiplier in the case of micro- and small-sized enterprises and natural person employers, while for medium-sized enterprise employers, it has a 0,9 times multiplier.

The amount of labour fine increases as well

From 1st March the amount of labour fines has increased significantly as well, regulated by the amended Government Decree No. 115/2021. (III. 10.). The amendment significantly increased the minimum amount of the labour fine from HUF 30,000 to HUF 150,000, and in several cases increased the specified amount of fines as well.

Infringement by a foreign employer

The amount of the fine has increased for certain violations when the employer is a foreign entity sending its employees to Hungary. The labour fine for each affected employee is raised to the amount of the minimum wage in the following violations:

  • Violation related to employment contract: If the employment contract violates certain provisions under Hungarian law, or if the employer fails to fulfil their obligation to provide information related to the contract. The relevant key provisions include, for example, the maximum working hours, the minimum amount of paid annual leave, the conditions for temporary work agencies, the employment and working conditions for pregnant women, women with young children, and young workers, as well as the conditions of employer-provided accommodation.
  • Violation related to declarations and data provision: If a foreign employer sends its employee to Hungary in the context of cross-border service provision and fails to meet its obligations regarding declarations and data provision.

Employment of a third-country national

Finally, according to the amendment, a labour fine must be imposed if the employer violates the notification requirement related to the termination or cessation of the employment relationship involving a third-country national residing in Hungary under guest worker status. In such cases, the amount of the fine to be imposed is ten times the minimum wage for each affected employee.

The system of occupational safety education is being renewed

In addition to the provisions related to the imposition of fines, there has been a significant change in terms of occupational safety training as well. An amendment to the act on occupational safety, which came into effect in February, allowes employers to fulfil their obligation to provide occupational safety training in certain cases by providing employees with the general training curriculum determined by the Minister responsible for employment policy, meaning a training material published on the Minister's website.

In accordance with this, the Ministry for National Economy Decree No. 6/2024. (II. 8.) came into effect in February, which specifies the detailed rules for applying the general training curriculum.

  • Scope of Application: Occupational safety training through the general training curriculum becomes applicable to office-based work involving information technology and computing equipment within the framework of organized work, covering job positions, workplaces, and remote work.
  • Delivery to the employee: The employer is free to determine the method of delivering the training material to the employee, and it is considered a valid delivery even if the employer informs the employee about the availability of the general training curriculum.
  • Content of the training material: The general training curriculum contains material, personal, and organizational requirements for safe and healthy working conditions, and outlines the rights and obligations of employees, as well as the methods and behavioural rules for protection against hazards and risks associated with activities involving information technology and computing equipment. The published training material also includes provisions on chemical safety knowledge and first aid.
  • Supplementing the training material: The employer must supplement the general training curriculum, as needed, with additional information based on the risks identified in the occupational safety risk assessment, as required by the act on occupational safety.

The new rules for occupational safety training thus introduce some simplifications, but it is important to note that the stricter rules for occupational safety fines emphasize the need for compliance. The strategic importance of occupational safety is further reinforced by the National Inspection Plan published this year and the National Occupational Safety Policy for the 2024-2027 period.

The inspection plan defines the focus areas

According to the National Inspection Plan published this year, occupational safety and employment supervision inspections will focus on creating healthy and safe working conditions and effectively enforcing employees' rights.

  • In terms of occupational safety inspections, the primary focus areas will include targeted inspections of activities involving hazardous substances and metalworking activities, where the reduction of serious workplace accidents and health impairments caused by occupational safety deficiencies is a key priority.
  • The main focus areas for employment supervision inspections include reviewing the employment practices of employers operating in the manufacturing industry, accommodation services, and the hospitality sector.

Therefore, businesses operating in the planned focus areas of inspections should pay special attention to properly understanding and complying with occupational safety and labour regulations. Given the increased occupational safety and labour fines, compliance in these areas will be particularly crucial.

The occupational safety policy for the 2024-2027 period sets the direction

Finally, it is worth briefly mentioning that in January, the National Occupational Safety Policy was also adopted, outlining the most important priorities for occupational safety policy for the 2024-2027 period.

  • Prevention of accidents, illnesses, and health emergencies: Among the key objectives of the policy is improving the prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses, as well as enhancing preparedness for potential future health emergencies (e.g., pandemics). This aligns with the goals for regulatory inspections and the new regulations regarding occupational safety fines.
  • Green and digital transition: The third key objective of the occupational safety policy is to predict and manage changes brought about by the green and digital transition, as well as the demographic shift in the new world of work. Consequently, the policy emphasizes the importance of digitalization. Digitalization creates opportunities to establish greener workplaces, which contribute to making working conditions more environmentally friendly and sustainable through eco-friendly and sustainable solutions.

It is clear that as a result of strategic and policy planning, the transformation of occupational safety and labour regulations has already begun, leading to significant changes. Given the increase in fines that can be imposed, as well as focused regulatory inspections, it will be especially important in the coming period for employers to pay proper attention to understanding the related regulations and ensuring compliance.