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

Long-awaited Changes To Labour Regulations

After a lengthy interlude in legislative activity related to labour regulations, 2023 has brought long-announced changes in the areas of health and safety at work and in the regulating of the position of foreigners when it comes to labour rights

The FIC Human Resources Committee has monitored the adoption of new regulations closely, given its members’ active participation in promoting the need to advance these areas, both through the stances expressed in multiple editions of the White Book and through the committee’s active participation in public discussions on the regulations governing the residential status and work of foreigners in Serbia.

Although the new Law on Safety and Health at Work includes additional obligations for employers, and thereby also new financial burdens for many, notable efforts have been exerted to improve the domestic system of safety and health at work to European standards, to raise the level of awareness and responsibility among all participants in the system of safety and health at work, which should ultimately contribute to improving the quality of applying working conditions that are safe and healthy. Still, home-based and remote work remain insufficiently regulated in a legal sense, because apart from acknowledging and defining this form of work, and proclaiming the principle of employee cooperation in the implementation of measures, the law does not more closely regulate mutual rights and obligations linked to working from home or remote work. As such, greater certainty in terms of the organising of work carried out beyond the confines of an employer’s premises will obviously have to wait for amendments to the Labor Law, as the umbrella law, and, in the meantime, employers will have to continue relying on the recommendations of the relevant state bodies and good business practices, accepting the risks associated with the insufficient regulating of flexible forms of labour.

The FIC notes with satisfaction that the majority of recommendations provided during the implementation of the Law on Foreigners and the Law on the Employment of Foreigners have been adopted

Amendments to the Law on Foreigners and the Law on the Employment of Foreigners are generally evaluated as being positive from the perspective of foreigners seeking permanent residence in Serbia. In procedural terms, a sharp shift has been made from the previous procedure, which implied the physical submission of requests and documentation in written form, to a procedure that’s conducted exclusively in electronic form. Moreover, the previous two procedures (for obtaining temporary residence status and a work permit) are combined into one, which should result in a unique permit. These changes should achieve significant savings in terms of time, whilst simultaneously unburdening the state bodies tasked with resolving submitted requests.

In a material sense, the deadline for approving the residence status and labour rights of foreigners has been extended from one year to three years, while conditions for maintaining, renewing and changing relevant permits have been eased, with which the entire procedure has been further simplified and the mobility of foreigners on the domestic labour market has been increased. This is certainly positive news for both foreign workers and local employers, and consequently also for the economy as a whole. The Foreign Investors Council notes with satisfaction that the majority of recommendations provided during the implementation of the aforementioned laws have been adopted, while it hopes to be given the opportunity to contribute to further improving labour regulations and the overall business environment through the constructive proposals of FIC members.

We remain focused on the need to reduce the administrative obligations on employers, particularly those expressed in the formal method for adopting acts and communicating with employees – and all with the aim of ensuring the comprehensive implementation of the general digital transformation trend as it relates to labour rights regulations.

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