Dear readers,

By way of introduction, let us briefly outline the nature and structure of this publication in an effort to provide guidance for your subsequent smooth orientation in the text.

The manual you are holding has been prepared for you by three non-profit, non-governmental organizations. It aims to facilitate the integration of foreigners, eliminate discrimination against this group and contribute to achieving the goal of upholding equal rights of everyone, regardless of nationality. The authors come from the Association for Integration and Migration, the Organization for Aid to Refugees, and the Multicultural Center Prague. Without exception, each and every one of the people involved in the creation of this material brings with them many years of experience, having worked for the non-profit sector in the field of migration. With due consideration, thus, the decision was made to aim the texts directly to foreigners themselves. Given the way individual issues are approached, this material can, and hopefully will, serve a number of other people, too. You may be the staff member of a non-profit organization, or you may be involved with the trade unions , or maybe you just meet foreigners in the private sphere. Either way, together, we can find answers to questions which arise from the everyday life of foreigners in this country. On the following pages, you will find relatively detailed instructions to accompany you in the moments when problems arise. Ideally, one should get acquainted with the information included here beforehand, as it is crucial to be informed and guided in a timely manner.

Our experience shows that even situations that seem to end in a stalemate may actually offer a surprisingly simple way out, so a solution may be found. One just needs to know where to start, whom to go to or whom to completely avoid, how to be prepared and know one's rights, and what may occur and how certain situations can be prevented, if undesirable. All of this, we believe, can be found in our manual.

The manual has been created specifically with regard to foreigners and those who have to deal with the labour market in the Czech Republic. That is why the very first chapter addresses questions connected to issues of residency. It goes without saying that one’s legal residence represents an absolutely crucial precondition for subsequent participation in the legal sphere of the labor market. Following that, the second chapter covers the issue of the employment of foreigners. It addresses the commencement as well as the termination of employment, various conditions connected to the employmee-employer relationship, as well as further closely related phenomena, such as the recovery of outstanding wages, defense against being discriminated against and a description of the risks associated with the so-called "švarcsystém" (in which a person officially provides services as a self-employed businessman, yet in reality they have the status of an employee: thus, the employer saves money on social security and health insurance payments) and with precarious employment. The third chapter deals with a subject that could stand on its own; it is safety at work.It contains, among other things, advice for work-related accidents and cases of occupational disease. Since some of the issues connected to the area of labour law relate only to women, for whom the legislator therefore in some cases admits a greater level of protection, the fourth section addresses exclusively female foreigners with issues such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, child care, maternity or parental leave. Besides that, it brings practical hints for finding healthy family – work balance in women's lives. Since it is not only women who take care of the children, some of the topics mentioned here are of course of relevance for men as well. The fifth and sixth part represent purely practical chapters which provide both contacts and descriptions of important organizations and bodies mandated to play a proactive role in the matters of foreign employment (Labour Offices, Labour Inspectorates etc.), as well as model contracts, claims and complaints to be used in cases when things are not as they should be and when legal or administrative action has to be taken to settle a dispute in the field of labour law.

The manual has been created as a part of the project Foreign Workers in the Labour Market, supported by the ESF within the operational programme, Human Resources and Employment. It is important to note that the data presented are relevant as of January 1st 2014 at the latest. Since it is very likely that soon a change in legislation will occur, and consequently a change in practice will follow, as it is usually the case with foreigner issues, we recommend that you follow the web pages of our organizations where we try to keep all the necessary information up to date – now and in the future as well.

We would like to express our wish that the lives of all of you who are foreigners to this country may take the right direction – and if not, that you will be able to find a solution to both small and great problems smoothly, in accordance with the law and to your satisfaction. We hope that our manual will become one of your reliable guides. And having in mind those of us who form the majority of society, we believe that this publication will provide instructions on how to help level the playing field for those with a lower starting position: In this case caused by a differing travel document, ID or nationality.

We live here together, and only together can we meet the challenges that integration brings.

On behalf of the authors,

Mgr. Pavla Hradečná