In 2018, the National Assembly adopted a set of amendments to the law on labor relations. These amendments are supposed to make the law compliant with the European Social Charter and, among other things, affect the mandatory content of an employment contract and its termination, annual holiday regulation, as well as probationary work.
The amendments make the following changes:
- Workers employed for a definite period of time, i.e. a fixed term, are now entitled to the same discrimination protection as workers employed on an indefinite term, i.e., permanent employees.
- Employers are obligated to (i) reimburse night shift workers for food, and (ii) provide transportation for workers who are unable to provide it for themselves on the nights when they are required to work.
- Annual holiday entitlement is harmonized regardless of an employee’s working schedule, i.e., regardless of whether the employee works five or six days a week. Also, the duration of at least one holiday period must be at least two consecutive work weeks.
- Additional protection is provided to children under 15 years of age and children who have not yet completed compulsory education. They may now participate in regulated work for up to two hours per day (instead of four) or up to six hours per day during summer holidays.
- Probationary periods are decreased to four months from six, and the process for the recruitment of new employees is accelerated. Instead of five days, the deadline for submitting applications through a public announcement is now decreased to three days. The minimal salary for trainees is also increased.
- In poor performance cases, an employer must warn the employee in writing and provide a period of at least 15 days for improvement before terminating employment.
- Terminations for business reasons need to be based on criteria determined in applicable collective agreements, especially the criteria for the protection of disabled people, single parents, and parents of children with disabilities.
- When a worker’s contract has been terminated due to business reasons, the employer may not employ another worker for the same position within a period of two years, and must give priority to re-employing the same worker if a need for the same position emerges during this period of time.
Additionally, a completely new law on labor relations is in the works. The Ministry of Labour says that the focus of the changes will be employment contracts, especially contracts for working from home and via the Internet. Modern forms of working, such as flexible employment and other atypical working arrangements, are also likely to be covered.
In a new turn of events, the syndicate for workers from the administration, judicial authorities, and the association of citizens have demanded the implementation of a seven-hour workday. It remains to be seen whether the government will take this into consideration in the new regulations.
The new amendments provide additional protection for workers, increasing their rights and creating a more favorable working environment. It remains to be seen what the new regulation in 2019 will bring. However, it seems that it will be aimed at providing modern solutions to modern methods of working.
Written by Ljupka Noveska Andonova and Veton Qoku in cooperation with Karanović & Partners and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins
© 2019 Karanović & Partners and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, P.C.