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Milena Jakšić Papac, President Of The FIC Human Resources Committee (Karanović & Partners o.a.d.)

Regulations Should Track The Changing Nature Of Work

We eagerly await amendments to legal regulations that will recognise contemporary forms of labour and introduce greater certainty in the aspect of the rights and obligations of both employers and employees

There is an unavoidable need to advance labour legislation towards recognising and regulating flexible forms of labour. New concepts of work have gained great momentum and it is now already certain that they aren’t passing fads and will outlast the pandemic by far. Employers still have varying approaches in relation to ways of organising employees’ work, but when performing duties doesn’t necessarily require employees to be physically present on the premises of the employer, they most often encounter so-called hybrid models, which combine working from home and in the office.

Existing legal solutions on working outside the premises of an employer address this phenomenon in a different context, like a special type of employment relationship based on performing working duties from home or remotely, and are not tailored to circumstances under which there are frequent changes to working conditions, workspaces, working hours and ways of organising work in general. It likewise doesn’t recognise the difference between cases when this kind of work takes place at the behest of the employer, as a reactive measure in the fight against the pandemic, which we witnessed two years ago, and cases in which employers provide the opportunity to work beyond the premises of the employer as a type of employee benefit.

It is essential for digitalisation in business operations to be followed by the modernisation of the base regulation that governs labour relations, in a way that explicitly enables the adoption of all labour legislation acts in the form of an electronic document

The lack of legal solutions and existing legal shortcomings have exposed employers to many dilemmas concerning the adequate regulating of work from home or remote work over the previous two years, especially in terms of the need to formal amend employment contracts, i.e., to conclude an employment contract annex, the possibility of regulating work from home through unilateral acts of the employer, obligations concerning the implementation of health and safety measures at work, as well as reimbursing costs incurred by working beyond the premises of an employer. Despite the recommendations and instructions of the competent bodies proving helpful in overcoming the observed problems, they cannot represent a reliable permanent support pillar for the regulating of labour relations, and we eagerly await amendments to legal regulations that will recognise contemporary forms of work and introduce greater certainty in the aspect of the rights and obligations of both employers and employees.

The need for flexibility isn’t necessarily linked purely to work from home or remote work, but rather also related to conservative solutions in terms of managing working hours, limited opportunities for frequent and quick changes to work schedules without administrative burdens, traditional systems of rewarding employees. A particular problem is created by inflexible legal solutions concerning the submission of labour law documentation, which still implies the physical submitting of documents to employees even in the age of digitalisation. It is essential for digitalisation in business operations to be followed by the modernisation of the base regulation that governs labour relations, in a way that explicitly enables the adoption of all labour legislation acts in the form of an electronic document, alongside the possibility of using an electronic signature, as well as an electronic form of communication between employers and employees. The existing regulation, accompanied by disputable interpretations among the competent bodies, leaves employers in a milieu of uncertainty in which digital transformation cannot be implemented in full.

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