Protests have broken out in Hungary following the government's desire to increase the overtime limit and payment timeframe for this:

Protests have broken out in Hungary after the country's parliament passed new labour laws, which have been labelled "slave labour" by opponents.

New rules mean companies can demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year and delay payment for it for three years.

While the amount of overtime is debatable, the time allowed for companies to pay it seems huge given current dynamic economical climate. In three years, there is a big chance that one may change the job or even the company closes making payments more difficult. Also, it is unclear if inflation is taken into account.

Overall, the government seems to greatly favor the employer over the employee, as the employee effectively lends money to the employer.

Question: Why does the Hungarian government want to allow delaying payment for overtime for such a long time (up to three years)?

  • If nothing else works: to upset the EU...
    – 8192K
    Dec 17, 2018 at 11:19
  • @Sebastian - currently it managed to seriously upset its own people. If you say to someone work now and I will pay up to three years from know, he/she would be very unhappy.
    – Alexei
    Dec 17, 2018 at 11:30
  • 2
    I can only speculate those policy maker simply hope that lower productivity industry can temporary ramp up production and give it enough capital gains within 3 years to reinvest in something like better machinery. It is a naive policy without considering some employer gaming exploit the policy.
    – mootmoot
    Dec 17, 2018 at 12:17
  • Im pretty sure this is unpopular but probably somehow tactically necessary. Maybe he owes someone a favor or he needs business firmly on his side. Economic interests always find their way into politics. Nov 1, 2021 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


Hungary is in an awkward spot right now. Its GDP is (slowly) increasing (mostly due to subsidies from the EU), but rampant systemic corruption, enormous debt, and legal uncertainty are causing foreign investors to pull out of the country as a whole, causing a major rise in unemployment and under-employment.

Actually ending the corruption would be the better long-term option for the country, but the corruption has become so entrenched that the country might go bankrupt trying to reform its entire system of government. Likewise, existing politicians are all entrenched in this quid-pro-quo system, so it would be political suicide for anyone trying to make reform from within.

So the best solution they could come up with is a bill that slows the loss of foreign investment and allows individuals willing to subvert EU labor standards to keep their jobs (albeit unpaid or underpaid) in hopes of riding out the current crisis. To quote the Washington Post:

The government says more labor flexibility is needed to satisfy investors’ needs — like those of the German car companies whose factories help drive Hungary’s economic growth — and to allow workers looking to earn more to work longer hours.

  • Interesting answer. Can you inline some relevant parts from Washington Post article, as it is kind of ("Read a limited number of articles each month") behind a paywall.
    – Alexei
    Dec 17, 2018 at 14:08
  • Not sure of proper procedure here. You want it in a comment, or as a quote in my answer?
    – Carduus
    Dec 17, 2018 at 14:18
  • 1
    You should include them within your answer as quote(s). (Blockquote / select + Ctrl-Q).
    – Alexei
    Dec 17, 2018 at 14:29

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