Labour law

Radno Pravo u Srbiji - Advokati

Labour law is one of the most mentioned branches of law in the public because of the relationship between employers and employees in the transition period in Serbia. Labour law attorneys at law can adequately regulate and prevent disagreements, and can effectively resolve disputes.

Employee-employer relations are an essential part of every business entity, whether it is an FDI or not. Interpersonal relationships in a business entity are often a point of contention that slows progress. Law Office Pekić drafts adequate employment contracts, and internal acts prescribed by law (labour law bylaws, etc.) and represents clients in resolving labour disputes, through mediation, arbitration, or in court.

Sources of labour law

The basic law in Serbia that regulates labour law, obligations of employees, and responsibilities is the Employment act. This law regulates the minimum labour rights of workers, below which neither the employment contract nor the collective agreement can go, i.e. prescribe a smaller scope of employee’s rights. In contrast, an employment contract, collective agreement, and other acts may prescribe more rights to an employee than what the Employment act prescribes. For example, the Employment act stipulates that employees must have a minimum of 20 working days of annual paid vacation days. If the employment contract stipulates that the employee is entitled to 25 days of annual vacation, the solution that is more favorable for the employee, i.e. 25 days of annual vacation, will be applied.

In addition to the Employment act, several other laws regulate labour relations in specific industries or these laws regulate specific institutes of labour law. The Law on Health Care partially regulates certain labour rights of employees in the health sector (hospitals, health centers, clinics, etc.), while the Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System prescribes certain labour rights of employees in the education industry (teachers and professors in primary and secondary education schools). These are just two examples, there are laws in other sectors as well. Such special laws prescribe specific rules only for those sectors. If these laws and the Employment act prescribe different regulations, these special laws shall apply. On the other hand, there are special laws for specific institutes. For example, Serbia adopted the Law on Mobbing (Law on Prevention of Harassment at Work) and the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, which regulate labour law issues, from the point of view of purely mobbing or discrimination.

The Employment act prescribes when vacations can be used and under what conditions. The Employment act stipulates that every full-time employee must have a minimum of 20 working days of paid vacation. The employee is entitled to utilize the right to paid vacation after one month of uninterrupted work since the establishment of employment, and in the year in which he established employment, the employee is entitled to a proportional number of days of paid vacation days. For example, an employee who enters into an employment agreement in September is not entitled to the same number of days of paid vacation days in that year as if he or she had worked all year. If the employee is denied the right to paid vacation days, the employee can sue for damages for unused paid vacation days.

The Law on Safety and Health at Work is another systemic law that prescribes necessary and safe working conditions, preventive measures, rights, and obligations of the employer and the employee, all for the sake of safe and healthy work. This law also prescribes compensation for damage due to an injury at work or an occupational disease, to which the employee is entitled.

The employment contract must regulate certain relations as there are mandatory elements of every employment contract. It is therefore important that the employment contract is drafted by a lawyer as a legal professional. The employment contract regulates the relations between the employee and the employer and prescribes the scope of rights that the employee enjoys, but also the obligations that he or she accepts.

Legal assistance to business owners to regulate labour rights

Every entrepreneur or owner of a legal entity, when he or she reaches a certain level of business development, must arrange employment relations in the company. Many entrepreneurs have their accountants draft employment contracts at the beginning of their business, which is not recommended, but it is frequent. When development leads to a level of about 10 or more employees, businessmen slowly realize that a complete set-up of labour relations is necessary. If the employment contract is not drafted in compliance with the Employment act or if the employer does not have mandatory bylaws, the labour inspection may fine the employer in the amount of several hundred thousand RSD. A labour law attorney in Serbia drafts precise employment contracts, and drafts internal acts of the employer (bylaws, collective agreement, etc.), all in order to respect the law and thus avoid high fines.

When it comes to jobs, where the employee acquires specific knowledge, experience, or contacts, employers often require employees to sign a non-compete clause, which prohibits the employee from working for another employer in the same industry or for himself during the employment relationship and a maximum of two years after termination. If such a provision is applicable, it is an integral part of the employment contract.

In addition, the optimization of the tax liability is important because taxes and mandatory social security contributions for each employee represent a great burden on the employer, so proper optimization can lead to a reduction in costs.

How to terminate the employment of an unscrupulous employee?

Many honest and conscientious employers face the problem of hiring, for an indefinite period, an employee who constantly does not respect the work discipline, does not fulfill his tasks, is late for work, abuses his or her right to sick leave, or comes to work in an alcoholic state which is why employer wishes to terminate their agreement. However, if the dismissal procedure is not carried out in accordance with the Employment act, the decision on dismissal is unlawful and the court will oblige the employer to return the employee to work. A labour law attorney at law advises employers in disciplinary proceedings against an employee, compiles documents in that procedure, as well as a decision on termination of employment. When the procedure against the employee is conducted according to the Employment act, the employer does not have to worry that the court will return the employee to work.

The most common court proceedings in practice that a labour law attorney encounters are:

1) Unlawful termination of employment agreement

One of the most common disputes of the employee against the employer is the refutation of the decision on termination of employment (termination of the employment contract) as unlawful. Unlawful termination of the employment contract is refuted in a procedure initiated by a lawsuit in court within 60 days from the day of receipt of the decision on termination of employment. Therefore, the Employment act also prescribes the deadline for filing a lawsuit to determine the unlawfulness of the decision to terminate the employment contract. After that deadline, the employee's lawsuit cannot be founded.

If the employee is informed that his or her employer is terminating the employment contract, he or she may file a lawsuit in court to determine that the decision on dismissal is unlawful. The reasons for the employer to terminate the employee's employment contract are mainly a sudden excess number of employees (due to technological, economic, or organizational changes), various types of violations of work obligations, non-compliance with work discipline, coming to work under the influence of alcohol and others.

If it is determined before the court that the termination of the employment contract is unlawful, the employee has the right to return to work as well as compensation in the form of payment of all back wages, from the day of unlawful termination of employment until return to work.

2) unlawful annex of employment agreement

It often happens that the employer offers the employee an annex to the employment contract, which includes a transfer to a job that does not correspond to the abilities and education of the employee, as well as lower wages. The employee is usually dissatisfied with this and does not want to agree to this change. The annex to the employment contract, as well as the decision on termination, can be challenged in court by filing a lawsuit within the same deadline. When an employee receives an offer to conclude an annex to an employment contract, he or she should usually accept it, because the rejection of the annex is a legal reason for termination of the employment contract. After the employee signs the annex, the employee can file a lawsuit in court to determine that the annex is unlawful.

3) Unpaid salaries

Delays in salary payments are the most common case in practice. Payment of salaries is claimed through a lawsuit in court for payment. In addition to the salary itself, it happens that the employee is not paid compensation for the costs of arrival and departure for work (commute expenses) or compensation for food during work. In addition, increasing wages in the name of working at night, working on Sundays, and working on a public holiday which is a non-working day, is the subject of many lawsuits. Employees can realize their monetary claims against the employer within 3 years.

4) Mobbing - harassment at work

Although there are many examples of harassment at work, most of these cases do not end up in court. The Law on Prevention of Harassment at Work (Law on Mobbing) regulates the rights and obligations regarding the prevention and sanctioning of mobbing activities. That law also prescribes what mobbing is, that is, what the meaning of mobbing is. The ultimate goal of the mobber (perpetrator of mobbing) is to bring the abused person into despair or an isolated situation in which he or she voluntarily terminates the employment contract.

The majority of cases of harassment that often go unpunished are cases of undignified treatment of employees, such as verbal harassment, frequent high-pitched conversations, inappropriate vocabulary, insults, etc. Unfortunately, undignified treatment of an employee is a common case when it comes to mobbing at work.

Some forms of mobbing are more perfidious and indirect. Examples, in theory, are "full desk" syndrome and "empty desk" syndrome. Full desk mobbing is a case in which a mobber "buries" a person abused by work, often meaningless, which is objectively impossible to do within the given deadlines, to lead him or her to a sense of despair in which the employee no longer wants to work. Empty desk mobbing is the opposite example, in which the mobber does not give the abuser absolutely any tasks, avoids him or her, does not want to cooperate at all, etc. An employee who wants to advance in his or her job, to learn, to progress, who wants to work and achieve results, simply cannot work in an empty table mobbing. Often, the employee's salary depends on the results achieved at work (i.e. sales commissions), and then the employee suffers monetary damage because the mobber does not entrust him or her with work tasks. Finally, one of the manifestations of harassment at work is sexual harassment.

What rights does an abused person have?

Judicial proceedings for protection against harassment are conducted before the High Court, and the abused person may exercise the following rights: (1) determination that he/she has suffered harassment; (2) a ban of the conduct constituting harassment, a ban on the further perpetuation of harassment or recurrence of harassment; (3) performing an act to eliminate the consequences of harassment; (4) compensation for monetary and non-monetary damage; (5) publishing the decision to the public. Therefore, in addition to the obligation to stop mobbing, the abused can also receive compensation in the form of monetary damage, e.g. due to reduced earnings as well as non-pecuniary damage, e.g. suffered fear and pain due to abuse.

Collective labour disputes (collective labour law)

In large companies and government-owned companies, it happens that there is a suspicion that the employer is acting unlawfully towards a large number of workers, in a way that, for example, does not pay employees increases in wages for work on Sundays or overtime.

Violations of the rights of a large number of employees are referred to as collective labour disputes. Law Office Pekić represents clients in collective labour disputes. Such cases practically lead to the establishment and unification of case law and future uniform treatment in similar situations.

International labor law

The International Labour Organization was founded more than 100 years ago and in its long history has adopted documents regulating labour relations, some of which are binding and others have been adopted in the form of recommendations. Serbia is a member of this organization so ratified international treaties adopted within the International Labour Organization are directly applicable in Serbia. One of the international agreements that courts in Serbia often cite and on which they base their decisions is Convention No. 158 on Termination of Employment (Termination of Employment Convention). This convention is binding and directly applicable in Serbia.

Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labor Disputes

The Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labor Disputes is an arbitration institution that represents an alternative to the court for resolving these disputes, and the jurisdiction (right to resolve a specific dispute) is based on an agreement between the employee and the employer to resolve the dispute before the Agency and not before the court. The advantage of resolving the dispute before the Agency is the speed of the procedure and the fact that professors of labour law and other experts in that field can be appointed as arbitrators. Law Office Pekić represents employees and employers before the Agency in order to resolve the dispute in quality and fast manner.

Labour law attorney Serbia

Our law office provides legal assistance in all these cases in the territory of the largest cities in Serbia - Belgrade and Novi Sad, but also municipalities and places near these cities.

If, as an employer, you have a problem with an unscrupulous employee who does not respect work discipline, if you wish to ensure compliance with labour regulations or if, as an employee, you have a problem with an employer who does not fulfill its obligations, or if you want to get an estimate of costs charged by our office, contact us by email at [email protected] or fill out the contact form on the site or write to us in the inbox on Facebook Messenger or LinkedIn.