Officially known as the Republic of Serbia, this landlocked country is located at the intersection of central and southeastern Europe. The official language is Serbian. The Serbian economy has historically centered around agriculture and it is the world’s third largest producer of plums.
Employment contracts in Serbia may be for either an indefinite term or a fixed term. Generally, a fixed-term contract may not exceed 24 months and is only allowed for work on a specific project, replacement of a temporarily absent employee and certain other legally recognized purposes. Under some circumstances, the term can be 36 months.
The employment contract must be in writing and signed by both the employer and the employee. The employer retains two copies, and the employee receives one. The employment contract may also establish a probationary period, which may not last longer than six months. In addition, all employees are entitled to a set pay raise for each year of work for the same employer.
The standard work week in Serbia is 40 hours over five days and cannot be shorter than 36 hours per week. Workers in jobs that are particularly difficult or dangerous, even after appropriate measures are taken to make them safer, may have reduced hours, down to 30 per week.
Employees may be required to work overtime only when there is a compelling reason. Overtime is capped at four hours per day and eight hours per week, and an employee is paid 126% of their standard hourly rate for overtime hours. Work on a public holiday is compensated at 110% of the employee’s standard rate. The employer is required to keep records of all overtime work.
Employees who work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and who do not normally work during this time are paid 126% of the standard hourly rate. An employee must consent to working at night for more than one week. Pregnant women may not work overtime or at night during the first 32 weeks of her pregnancy if a doctor believes there is risk to her health or her baby’s, and may not work overtime or at night during the final eight weeks.
Employees receive paid sick leave. The first 30 days are paid at 65% of the employee’s average salary over the previous 12 months, or 100% if the employee has suffered a work-related illness or injury. After 30 days, the employee, if eligible, can receive a social security payment. The employee should submit a medical certification of their illness within three days, which indicates how long the employee is likely to be absent from work. If the employer doubts that the employee’s absence is justified, the employer may request that the local health authority assess the employee’s condition.
Female employees receive a combination of maternity and childcare leave that covers one year. Maternity leave begins 28 to 45 days before the estimated date of birth and continues until three months after the birth. Immediately after the maternity leave ends, the mother is entitled to childcare leave, which lasts until 365 days have passed since the start of her maternity leave. A woman who has two children is entitled to a combination of maternity and childcare leave totaling two years for her third child and any additional children. Nursing mothers are entitled to breaks or a shortened workday to allow time for breastfeeding.
During maternity and childcare leave, the employee receives her average salary over the past 12 months, up to a maximum of five times the average national salary. If she works on a fixed-term contract, the contract is automatically extended to the end of the leave. A parent on maternity or childcare leave may not be terminated under normal circumstances.
A father receives five days of paid leave for the birth of his child. He is only entitled to additional paid paternity leave in exceptional circumstances. Foster and adoptive parents receive eight months of leave from the time the child is placed with them until the child is five years old. If the child is less than three months old when placed with the foster or adoptive parents, the foster/adoptive parent is entitled to leave until the child is 11 months old.
Performance based bonuses are common in Serbia. Also, Serbia has a minimum wage.
Employees receive a minimum of 20 days of paid annual leave per year. If an employee is in the first year of employment and has not yet worked for six months, or if the employee has been terminated, they accrue 1/12 of the total annual leave allowed per month (i.e. 1.67 days per month).
Workers who do not practice Orthodox Christianity are also entitled to observe traditional holidays. Those who follow Western Christian traditions are entitled to the following as paid holidays:
Serbia has universal healthcare. Private health insurance is available.
Employers in Serbia may only terminate an employee for a legally recognized reason. Recognized reasons are changes to the nature of the business unrelated to the employee and reasons specific to the employee, such as poor performance, breach of a condition of their employment contract, or behavior at work that is negligent or reckless. Employees terminated for business reasons are not entitled to notice. If the employer seeks to terminate an employee for performance reasons, the employer must first provide the employee a written warning informing the employee of the conduct which is unsatisfactory, warning the employee that they may be terminated for this conduct, and explaining why termination may be the remedy.
The employer must give the employee the notice in person, on the employee’s property, if at all possible. If this is not possible, the employer must document that service was impossible and post the notice of termination on the billboard where the employer posts notices. The notice will become effective eight days after posting. The employee must be given a minimum of eight days to respond to the warning. The employee is entitled to provide an opinion from their union in addition to their own response if the employee wishes, and the employer must consider the union’s opinion.
Before proceeding to termination, the employer must provide the employee with a plan for improvement and give the employee a reasonable time to show improvement. If the employee does not improve sufficiently and the employer proceeds to terminate them, the employee must receive at least eight and no more than 30 days of notice of termination, with the exact number of days usually being set by bylaw or contract. The requirements for serving the employee with the written notice of termination are the same as the rules for serving the initial warning. The notice must be in writing, must state the reason for the termination, and must explain the employee’s options for legal recourse.
An employee in a probation period may be terminated with five days of written notice. An employee who wishes to quit must give the employer a minimum of 15 days of written notice. A bylaw or contract can extend the notice period to a maximum of 30 days. The employee is not required to provide a reason for terminating the employment contract. Severance is mandatory if an employee is terminated for business reasons that are not specific to the employee. The minimum severance payment is one-third of the employee’s monthly salary for each year of service, including time when the employee was employed by the employer’s predecessor.
We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.
Our team of regional experts are here to support you with your global expansion plans. If you have any questions, just get in touch and we will be delighted to help.