1. Decree on Organizing Work during State of Emergency (“Official Gazette of RS” No. 31/2020)
Pursuant to Article 200, paragraph 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia(“Off gazette of RS”, no 98/2006), on March 16th, 2020, the Government, with the co-signature of the President of the Republic of Serbia, adopted the Decree on Organizing Work during a State of Emergency (“Official Gazette of the RS” No. 31/2020, hereinafter the “Decree”), which entered into force on the same day. The Decree first stipulates that, during an emergency, the employer is obliged to enable employees to perform work outside the premises of the employer at all workplaces where such work can be organized, in accordance with the general act and the employment contract, i. e. distance work and work from home. Unless the general act and the employment contract do not predict this type of work, the employer may, by decision, allow the employee to perform work outside the premises of the employer “if the organizational conditions allow”, and such decision must contain the duration of working hours and the manner of supervising the work of employees. The employer is also required to keep records of employees performing work outside the employer’s premises.
However, employers whose activities are of such a nature that this type of organization is not possible, must align their operations with the state of emergency, so that, if possible, it does not require additional resources, organize shift work – in order to minimize the number of employees and other employees engaged in one room at a time.
This Decree obliges employer to postpone business trips in the country and abroad in accordance with the decision of the competent authority on the ban – i. e. the temporary restriction of entry and movement.
In order to ensure the protection and health of employees and parties, employers are also obliged by the Decree to provide, all general, special and extraordinary measures related to hygienic safety of the facility and persons in accordance with the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases(“Off Gazette of RS”, no 15/2016), and this applies in particular to employees and employees who are in direct contact with clients or share a multi-liv work space.
2. Codex of conduct in Business Entities during State of Emergency Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as the general representative of the business community in the Republic of Serbia, adopted the Codex of Conduct in Businesses Entities during State of Emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19 in the country (hereinafter: the “Codex”).
In addition to general prevention measures, the Codex prescribes measures recommended to employers when communicating with employees, teamwork, and group meetings with business partners. In these circumstances, the following measures are recommended:
• Putting a notice on the entrance door of the premises that hand sanitizer is mandatory upon entry for everyone (employees and visitors);
• Strengthening control of entry into business premises;
• Restricting travel abroad, especially to countries where there is a pronounced epidemic;
• If travel is necessary, taking particular care of general prevention measures;
• Avoiding shaking hands and greetings during business meetings;
• Limiting group business meetings (up to four people);
• Using larger rooms for meetings to allow a distance of at least one meter between participants;
• Before the start and after the meeting, it is necessary to clean and disinfect the room (work surfaces, door handles, used appliances, etc.);
• Limiting meeting time to 20 minutes;
• Serving bottled water at the meeting;
• Providing hand and mask disinfectants for employees who work with clients;
• If the employee travels privately outside the country, he/she should notify the company person in charge of the safety and health at work;
• All employers should consider measures to reduce the transmission of contagion among employees, then protect people at increased risk of adverse health complications, measures to maintain business processes and minimize negative effects on other entities in their supply chains.
Then, the Codex also gives employers general business recommendations, such as:
• Employers should plan, monitor and respond to employee absences from workplaces, and should make plans to continue basic business processes in case that more absences occur than usual;
• Employees should be redeployed to perform basic functions so that the workplace can function, even if key members are not present;
• Essential functions are assessed and business practices modified as necessary to maintain critical operations (i. e. alternative suppliers are identified, customers are prioritized, or some operations are suspended if necessary);
• Human resources policies are reviewed to ensure that policies and practices are in line with public health recommendations and in accordance with applicable governmental decisions.
The Serbian Chamber of Commerce also prescribes specific prevention measures for employers in accordance with the possibilities, bearing in mind different production, organizational and financial capacities:
• Providing daily usage of general preventive measures (hot water and soap, disinfectants for hands and work surfaces, medical masks and gloves, bottled water, etc.);
• Employees who belong to potentially vulnerable groups (pregnant women and young children, as well as persons with chronic illnesses) should be able to work from home, with appropriate confirmation;
• Enabling communication via telephone, internet, conference calls, etc;
• Depending on the industry, monitoring information and recommendations through available, official sources of information;
• Specifically for larger business systems (50+ employees and those with high consumer / user traffic), providing contact with ambulance that could be activated immediately in the event of a “risky” situation;
• In case that a person (consumer / business partner) with cold or flu-like symptoms comes to premises of the business entity and does not act in accordance with the general prevention measures, he/she should be warned from a permissible distance by employee;
• If the person does not accept the alert, “security / police” should be contacted (if the business entity has security service, and if not, then the police since they would be equipped with safe machines and gloves);
• If a person (consumer / business partner) who has a cold or flu condition suddenly worsens on the premises of a business entity, it must be safely isolated and an emergency medical service should be called;
• In case that an employee is suspected of being infected with COVID-19 and sent to “self-isolation” (voluntarily or by the suggestion of a doctor), he/she must provide medical confirmation that he/she has been absent on this basis;
• It is recommended that during a justified leave of absence an employee is paid as if he had worked.
Business entities can be informed through the portal https://pks.rs/strana/covid-19-info-servis-za- business about the latest news regarding the epidemiological situation and the impact of the COVID-19 on the economy. For advice, clarification, additional information and reporting of problems in business, a call center is available on number 0800 808 809 (phone number 22-8 hours – 066 875 0566), and for more complex problems that do not require an immediate response, it is suggested to send an email to [email protected].
For any additional questions and explanations during state of emergency, please contact the Tasic & Partners team by email at [email protected].