The draft Law on Temporary Work Engagement, which has just been passed onto the Serbian Parliament for discussion, stipulates that workers in Serbia, hired through employment agencies, will be guaranteed equal pay and other working conditions (working hours, absence, holidays), health & safety at work, as well as will the workers directly employed by the employer.
2.1% of the people in Serbia find employment via employment agencies, which is above the EU average. This percentage is slightly higher than in 2015, when it stood at 1.97%.
According to the Ministry of Labour, as of September 2018, there were 111 registered employment agencies in Serbia. This is an increase compared to 2016, when they were 88. Up to September 2018, employment agencies found work for 16,841 people.
As indicated in the draft law, and at the request of trade union representatives, in order to encourage direct employment of workers, the possibility of finding workers through employment agencies is now limited to 10% of the total number of employees directly employed by a company; this taking into account the current practice of laying off surplus workers and their subsequent re-employment through agencies to significantly less favourable working conditions.
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An exception to this limitation is prescribed for companies with less than 50 employees, which was the biggest problem in the debate on the draft law, as the employers’ representatives argued that their constitutional rights were violated in that way.
In order to prevent the continued employment of part-time employees with the same employer, the law also prescribes that employment agencies cannot assign a previously employed part-time employee for a certain period of time with the same employer directly or through the same or another agency for a total period of time of 24 months, except in cases where temporary work with the employer is granted for a longer period in accordance with the Labour Law.
If there the company doesn’t already have an adequate worker for the job, the new employee may not be assigned a lower basic salary than the basic salary of a worker in the same company with the same level of qualification.
Civil servants are not allowed to work in the public sector if their employment came via an employment agency and that also applies to work for local governments and the government of autonomous provinces.
The agency is not allowed to charge the employer for the temporary work after the termination of service.
In practice, workers hired via employment agencies enter into fixed-term contracts or temporary and occasional contracts with certain persons, and for the purposes of working with other legal entities and entrepreneurs, the draft law states.
Such persons employed through the employment agency are in a kind of discriminatory position in relation to the employees hired directly by the employer. The situation thus arises that the dismissed workers do not have the same rights arising from the employment relationship as the employees hired directly by the employer.
Data from the Workforce Survey also shows that workers who are hired via employment agencies tend to work more at odd times namely at night, on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as in shifts, compared to the workers hired directly by the employer.
According to the 2016 survey, about 45% of agency-hired employees had net monthly earnings of less than 25,000 dinars, compared to about 41% of all other employees.
One-third of such workers rated their family’s financial situation as bad, while just over a quarter considered it generally critical.
(Nova Ekonomija, 05.08.2019)
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