16 March, 2020
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State of emergency and remote work of employees

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic , a state of emergency was declared in Serbia on March 15, 2020. This decision had the effect of restricting movement of people in order to prevent further spread of the virus and reduce the number of those infected.  As of March 16, classes at schools and universities have been suspended, and kindergartens have been closed. According to the legal framework of the Republic of Serbia, a state of emergency can last for a maximum of 90 days, with the possibility of extension.

In line with these measures, some employers have decided that their employees should temporarily replace their regular company offices with their homes. This change of location is possible if an employee’s role and the tasks listed in their job description can be fulfilled in an undisturbed manner outside the employer’s offices.

Labor Act

Serbian Labor Act also explicitly regulates remote work within the framework of provisions regulating employment which requires carrying out work outside employer’s premises.

Annex to the employment contract

In a state of emergency, employees do not require anything more than their employer’s decision to start working remotely.  However, if an employer wishes to further specify the employment relationship with employees who are working remotely under new circumstances, the employer can offer employees to conclude an annex to the employment contract .

By this annex, employment contract is amended with provisions which introduce the change of place of employment as well as other relevant provisions.  The annex additionally regulates working hours, supervision and required quality of employee’s output, use of means of work, compensation of other labor costs, as well as all other rights and obligations that are specific to performance of the employee’s role.  As for the means of work, the employer is obliged to provide the means for ordinary conduct of business activities. In the digital age, this usually means the computer, and all other inputs, applications and tools that are necessary for working and communicating via the Internet.

Employee’s salary

In terms of employee’s salary, the Labor Act also foresees that the salary of an employee working remotely should not be less than the base salary of an employee working in the same role at the employer’s premises.  This implies that the salary of an employee who works remotely cannot be lower than that paid to them when they were working from the employer’s premises during their working hours.

Conclusion

Finally, if the employer and the employee decide to conclude an annex to the employment contract detailing employee’s remote work, employee’s rights and obligations in this specific situation do not change, except in relation to the employee’s obligations to come to and leave their employer’s premises during their working hours.

In any case, employers should display a high level of social responsibility and take all measures to ensure that health of their employees is protected. They should also indicate which measures should be taken to prevent the spread of the pandemic and to inform their employees to reach out to relevant authorities in case they start exhibiting symptoms of the disease. As mentioned previously and according to government advice, remote work and other measures which seek to reduce population mobility are the best way to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

 

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