08 April, 2020
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COVID-19 and employment – is there room for full salary compensation?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inevitable economic crisis, authorities are constantly looking for ways to lend a hand to the Serbian economy.  Yet, it is the employment relations that are likely to suffer the most in the state of emergency, as economic effects of the introduced measures routinely spill over to employees, who, in turn, often face salary reductions or layoffs.

On the other hand, employees who continued working during the pandemic face another serious threat – the risk of COVID-19 infection.  Aware of this risk, the Government suggested certain financial measures to help employees who contract the disease at work.

 

Full salary compensation for (some) employees

 On April 2, 2020, the Government adopted the Conclusion proposing certain measures aimed at providing additional financial security for employees who contracted COVID-19 while performing their jobs and work tasks or who were ordered into quarantine or self-isolation as a result of such jobs and tasks.

In particular, the Government proposed that employers amend their bylaws or employment agreements in order to facilitate paying full salary compensation to infected or quarantined employees, instead of paying just 65% of salary compensation as prescribed in the Labor Act (“Act”).

In line with the Conclusion, employers would pay full salary compensation for the first month of employee’s absence from work.  After this, 65% of the salary would be paid by the Serbian Health Insurance Fund, while the cost of the remaining 35% of the salary would be borne by the employer.

In order to be eligible for full compensation, employees must submit appropriate evidence that they were ordered into quarantine or self-isolation by a health inspector or other competent authority.  Employees must also provide a medical certificate confirming their temporary inability to work due to COVID-19 infection, in line with the Act.

 

Are all employees included?

 The Conclusion makes it clear that not all employees would be entitled to full compensation, even if infected or quarantined.

Specifically, only employees who contracted COVID-19 or were ordered into quarantine or self-isolation as direct consequence of exposure to the virus while performing their jobs and work tasks would be entitled to full compensation.

In other words, only those employees who continued working during the state of emergency (e.g. retailers, pharmacists, members of security forces, etc.) and are exposed to the risk of infection because they interact with a number of people in their line of work,  would be entitled to full salary compensation. Conversely, employees who work remotely or otherwise do not interact with other people during work would not be entitled to full compensation even if infected or quarantined, as infection or quarantine would not result directly from exposure during their performance of their jobs and work tasks.

 

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