Our citizens who are working in Slovenia have the right to equal treatment especially concerning working conditions, including salary and termination of job contract, as well as equal treatment in terms of health and safety at work and the right to education and vocational training
Slovenia and Serbia signed the Agreement on Employment of Serbian Nationals in Slovenia, which entered into force on 1st September. This was an occasion to talk with Minister Zoran Djordjević about the context of this agreement, the cooperation between the two countries in this area, the forthcoming session of the two governments and many other issues.
Could you tell us what this agreement specifically means for our workers in Slovenia?
– In situations when an increasing number of our citizens are finding employment abroad, i.e. when they do not use the services of the National Employment Office and licensed employment agencies, they are then at high risk of not exercising their work rights in the country of employment. In such a situation, and to protect this category of our citizens, the Government of the Republic of Serbia concludes temporary employment agreements. As a considerable number of our citizens went to work on their initiative in Slovenia, an Agreement on Employment of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia in the Republic of Slovenia was concluded between the two Governments, which came into force on 1st September this year. The aim of this agreement is that once citizens decide to seek employment abroad, the state will provide them with the necessary protection in the process. This agreement is a guarantee that our citizens will get the same treatment as the citizens of the country of employment, in terms of working conditions and the exercise of all rights that stem from employment. Therefore, this agreement aims to ensure protection for our citizens, because they are employed based on pre-determined conditions for employment, working and staying abroad. The agreement also contributes to the prevention of undocumented work and any kind of exploitation and discrimination by a foreign employer. Considering the aforementioned, the agreement also defines, among other things, that our citizens who are working in Slovenia have the right to equal treatment especially with regard to working conditions, including salary and termination of job contract, as well as equal treatment in terms of health and safety at work and the right to education and vocational training. Also, this agreement establishes cooperation between line institutions to better protect and inform our citizens who are working in Slovenia.
Furthermore, we have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Slovenia covering the topic of occupational safety and health. What can we learn from the Slovenian experiences in this field?
– The relations with the Republic of Slovenia in work health and safety were not regulated bilaterally, which is why the Ministry has launched an initiative to conclude a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans’ and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Policy and Equal Opportunities of the Republic Slovenia, in order to establish better cooperation between the two ministries in this segment. The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans’ and Social Affairs is in the process of transposing EU legislation into national legislation and we are keen to adopt the EU standards in the best possible way in order to better protect workers. When drafting the Law on Work Health and Safety, we used positive legal solutions from the Republic of Slovenia. The experiences of the Republic of Slovenia in occupational health and safety are very important for us so we can reach the standards of highly developed countries. The cooperation is implemented through the exchange of information and experiences on strategic goals regarding promotion of occupational health and safety, social dialogue and cooperation with civil society, issues related to the prevention and reduction of new and emerging risks, the challenges faced by SMEs regarding the monitoring of the health status of workers, keeping statistics on occupational injuries and diseases, improving the knowledge of occupational health and safety professionals and promoting health and safety in the workplace.
The Government of Serbia has decided to declare 2019 the year of occupational health and safety. What activities has the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs been implementing on reducing the number of injuries at work? What are the results?
– Pursuant to the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia declaring 2019 the year of occupational health and safety, the Ministry carried out various activities on improving the legislative framework, promoting occupational health and safety and bolstering inspection control. We have proposed a new Law on Occupational Health and Safety and we are working on the text of the draft Law on Occupational Work Accident Insurance for Compensation of Damages, as well as amendments to several by-laws. A large number of activities is focused on launching campaigns to raise a culture of prevention and awareness about the importance of prevention. The aim of declaring 2019 „the year of occupational health and safety“ was to draw the attention of the public, employers and workers to the importance of occupational health and safety, adherence to work procedures and use of personal protective equipment at work, which directly reduces the number of work-related injuries.
What experiences of Slovenia can we apply in our labour law?
– The Republic of Serbia is trying to follow the examples of good practice of other countries including in this case. Slovenia is an important partner to Serbia in many spheres, including work. Labour legislation in Slovenia is regulated by a series of acts and a law that governs this area in detail. Labour law is clearly defined in our country and this area is regulated by laws and by-laws. As the amendments to the Labour Law are scheduled for 2021, I believe that we will further improve the area. I’m sure that the experiences of our friends can help in this segment as well.
How can we further improve cooperation with Slovenia?
– There are many areas in which our countries are cooperating, but there is always room for improvement. I believe that, in the coming period, we will expand our cooperation and further improve it, especially in the area of work-related issues. Serbia is already an attractive country and we would like to create conditions for more people from Slovenia coming to our country, not only as tourists but also to come to live and work here. We are good hosts, and as Serbia becomes increasingly interesting to foreign investors and citizens every day, I am confident that many of them will want to come here in the future.
What are your expectations from the forthcoming joint session of the Serbian and Slovenian governments?
– I expect that all important issues will be discussed at the forthcoming session of the governments of Serbia and Slovenia. Our countries have traditionally good relations and the cooperation has never been better, also thanks to the personal contribution by our President Aleksandar Vučić. I am confident that the session will produce good results and contribute to the deepening of relations between the two countries.