09 April, 2020
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COVID-19 and annual leave – who may use it and when?

The state of emergency, introduced in Serbia on March 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had a major impact on employment relations.  Many employees have switched to flexible ways of working, meaning working remotely or from home, while others have continued working on-site at their usual place of work.

Regardless of whether they work remotely or on-site, employees may wonder how their rights, guaranteed under the Labor Act (“Act”), are affected by the current situation. Specifically, employees may wonder if they are entitled to use annual leave during the state of emergency.

The Government stepped in to clarify.

 

Annual leave – “now or never”

 On April 7, 2020 the Government issued the Conclusion containing certain proposals for employers regarding the use of annual leave by employees during the state of emergency.

In particular, the Government proposed that employees, who have the duty to continue discharging their day-to-day duties during the ongoing crisis, should be allowed to use before December 31, 2020 the remainder of their annual leave from 2019.

In this manner, employees who have continued working on-site at their usual place of work would be able to use their annual leave from 2019 when circumstances so allow – thus, even after June 30, 2020 which is set down in the Act as the cutoff date.

Conversely, the Conclusion does not prescribe the same benefits for employees who work remotely or from home.  Of course, these employees are nevertheless entitled to use their annual leave from 2019 until the end of June 2020, while employers have the duty to facilitate that, in line with the Act.

Finally, the Conclusion also proposes that employers who are unable to organize work processes, both on-site and remotely, should allow employees to use annual leave, instead of referring them to other forms of paid leave in line with the Act. This is because employees on annual leave are entitled to full compensation of average salary, whereas employees referred taking leave due to a lack of work or closure are entitled to only 60% of their average salary.

 

For more information, please contact us via covid19@geciclaw.com.