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Decision 3053/2022. on severance pay in the event of termination of the public service employment of health workers
Constitutional complaint against section 19 (4) of the Act C of 2020 on Healthcare Service Relationship (severance pay in the event of termination of the public service employment of health workers)
The Constitutional Court rejected the constitutional complaints for the declaration section 19 (4) and the text “(a) 1 month if the person concerned has less than 20 years of qualifying service, (b) 2 months if the person concerned has at least 20 years but less than 30 years of qualifying service, (c) 3 months if the person concerned has at least 30 years of qualifying service, in the amount corresponding to the remuneration in force at the time of termination of the legal relationship” in section 19 (4) of the Act C of 2020 on Healthcare Service Relationship are contrary to the Fundamental Law and their annulment. Under the contested Act, health workers’ status as public employee was transformed into healthcare service relationship. According to the contested provision, if the healthcare service employment contract was not concluded within the time limit, the legal relationship of the person concerned as a public employee was terminated as of 1 March 2021. In this case, the person concerned was entitled to a reduced severance payment (1, 2 or 3 months), depending on the length of service. According to the petitioner, the contested provision violates the right to human dignity, the right to freedom of choice of work and occupation, and, through this, the right to self-determination. In the petitioner’s view, the regulation violates the right to the protection of expectations under public law as part of the right to property and the requirement of equal treatment. The Constitutional Court ruled in its decision that the right to the freedom of choice of profession and work is not violated by a regulation which, in order to generalise the new type of employment relationship introduced in the health sector in the public interest, makes the continued employment of the workers concerned within the framework of the new relationship conditional on their choice, and provides for the termination of the relationship as public employee in the event of the employee’s refusal to do so, even if the severance pay is lower than that which would otherwise be payable, and is applied solely for that specific purpose. The Constitutional Court also explained that the unified group of health workers, originally employed in a uniform way as public employees, had thus ceased to exist, also from the point of view of verifying the constitutionality of the rules governing the restructuring of their legal status, in particular the rules governing their severance pay, and – on the basis of their different decisions to enter into a new employment relationship and the provision of the law – they no longer form a homogeneous group in a comparable situation from the point of view of the regulation, consequently, the regulation challenged by the petitioners did not result in discrimination. The panel of the Constitutional Court therefore found no violation of fundamental rights in the contested regulation, therefore rejected the constitutional complaints.