At a time when official data show an unprecedented increase in employment, Serbia is the No 1 country in Europe in terms of the percentage of employees with job contracts that last less than three months.
The percentage of workers employed for a short period has increased over three years from 4.6% to 10.1% in 2017, according to the survey “Indicators of Dignified Work in Serbia”, compiled by Sarita Bradas and Marija Reljanovic.
In 2017, 11.6% of employees were employed in industry and construction for a period of fewer than three months, while 11.4% were employed for the same amount of time in the commercial sector. The total number of employees with limited duration job contracts increased by one third compared to 2014, while the number of those with permanent contracts increased by 5.5%.
The average number of temporary workers in Serbia is much higher than the EU average and in a period of only three years, the number of temporary workers in Serbia increased from 18.8% to 22.7 %. The survey showed that half of the total number of employees in Serbia has secure employment, but also that measures to curb the shadow economy clearly have not produced the desired results because the number of workers engaged in shadow economy increased by one third.
The right to social protection is not exercised by 600,000 employees but also by 130,000 self-employed workers in agriculture, so it is not surprising that one in ten workers in Serbia is at risk of poverty, just like one in three self-employed workers.
Moreover, the active employment assistance measures for which the 2020 strategy was drafted do not contribute to a significant reduction in the number of unemployed.
Compared to the EU, the average employment rate in Serbia is much lower – two years ago, it was 67.6% in the EU and 57.3% in Serbia and the only country with a lower employment rate was Greece (53.5%).
The vice-president of the Independent Trade Union of Serbia, Dusko Vukovic says that the unions have been warning about this problem for years and claimed that the adoption of laws regulating the work of recruitment agencies that would only aggravate these trends.
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“We are in a serious crisis because what we are offering as a state is cheap labour that brings foreign capital here with the sole purpose of making a profit. We have a situation where job-related fear is generated, people are not satisfied with their jobs and therefore easily decide to leave the country to work in an orderly system,” Vukovic underlines.
Since the introduction of a new calculation of unemployment benefits at the end of December 2017, the minimum unemployment benefit has been reduced by 24% to 14,262 dinars, while the maximum has increased by 10% to 33,063 dinars. 83% of users of unemployment benefits in Serbia receive minimum benefits, only 2% receive maximum-prescribed benefits. According to Eurostat, more than half of the workers in Serbia are permanently unemployed (for more than a year) and do not receive benefits, while in such cases in Europe, 20% to 90% of unemployed persons receive unemployment benefits.
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