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5. julija, 2021

SERBIA: Specifics of working from home

At the very beginning of the pandemic, working from home became the most desirable option. Due to the rapid spread of the virus, it was recommended for any occupation that could be performed from home. Work from home has been on the rise for some time now due to advances in information technology and a different division of labor.

In order to prevent the appearance of unknowns during work from home, the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Veterans’ Affairs issued a “Guide to healthy and safe work from home” for jobs that were performed in the employer’s premises before the epidemic.

This guide is designed to help employers understand and organize work the most safely and efficiently possible. The part related to safety and injuries is as follows:

“The employer should have the same approach to the implementation of safety and health measures at work from home as in the case when employees perform work in the space intended for work with the employer in the facility intended for work and auxiliary premises where the employee resides or has access during labor and which is under the direct or indirect control of the employer. This means that the employer will manage safety and health at work in the same way in all cases when employees perform tasks that are in his interest. On the other hand, employees are expected to cooperate with the employer and to perform the work in accordance with written instructions and guidelines prepared by the employer. ”


Legal regulation of work from home

According to Article 42 of the Labor Law, it is defined that work from home can be performed as on the premises of the employer. According to the provisions of Article 33 of this Law, it is also stated:

  • duration of working hours according to work norms,
  • the manner of performing work supervision,
  • means of work required to perform the work,
  • use of means of work and
  • reimbursement of costs for their use.

To regulate the payment for work from home, the employer signs an annex or contract with the employee. It should state what jobs are being done, what resources are needed (infrastructure, connection, software, work equipment, etc.). The employer is hereby obliged to provide all the necessary equipment to perform work from home.

The obligation of the employer is to take care of the safety of its employees and to create opportunities for them to do the job without risk to their health. The right to health care is provided in case of illness and injuries outside work, at work, or occupational diseases. According to the Law, an injury at work is considered to be an injury of the insured that occurs in:

  • spatial,
  • time and
  • causal connection with the performance of the work previously defined in the contract.


Risk assessment at work from home

Even though work from home is not performed on the premises provided by the employer, it is his duty to determine that the employee performs the work in a safe environment. If there is any risk of injury, there are guidelines on how to do it even though working from home is not under the constant control of the employer. This type of work may include the assessment of the risk of injury and / or damage to health in the workplace in the work environment and measures to eliminate or reduce the risk.

This risk assessment should pay special attention to:

  • work environment,
  • screen equipment,
  • fire risk and
  • mental health of employees.

The method of risk management can also be defined by a checklist.

The labor inspection does not supervise if the injury at work occurred at home. If it happened during working hours on the order of the employer, it could be treated as an injury at work if the employer admits it. The employer will issue a report of an injury at work and submit it to the Health Insurance Fund. Further, the Fund decides whether to recognize that violation as an injury at work or not.


Specifics of employment contracts

An employment contract that regulates work from home or remotely also contains certain specifics. One of them is the duration of working hours according to work norms. A labor norm is a general act that the employer must have (rulebook, decision, etc.). In this document, the employer states the working hours, as well as which obligations are expected from the employee, and for which period of time and it must be regulated by a general act. Otherwise, if it is not regulated, the employer cannot apply any measure to the employee in case he claims that the work norm has not been met.

In case the employee claims that he did not have access to the Internet, the employment contract must state what measures are taken then. When the employee uses his equipment, there must be in the contract the amount of compensation that the employer pays to the employee. In case the employee uses a private car for business purposes, in addition to the price of gasoline, a depreciation fee is determined. All of the above items must be in the contract or it is not valid.

Employees themselves should provide space to install equipment in their home that is sufficient to perform activities. In addition to all the detailed information an employee can get from their employer, there are sometimes difficulties in doing the job due to the inability to separate the private life from the job. Also, the problem is reducing the exchange of information with the employer that they had when they performed work from the workplace.

The salary of an employee who works from home is regulated in the labor law as follows:

“The basic salary of an employee who works from home cannot be determined in a smaller amount than the basic salary of an employee who works on the same jobs at the employer’s premises.”