The COVID-19 pandemic is already affecting strongly all businesses and therefore also employment relations, both from the employer and employee perspective, especially in the areas of health and safety at work, employees’ rights to earnings and termination of employment contracts.
Given the many concerns that arise in the area of labor law in this unique situation, we will answer the most frequently asked questions, so feel free to ask them here. *
1. Is it possible for an employer to reduce employee’s salary if he or she works from home?
There is no legal basis for the employer to reduce the employee’s salary if the work is performed from home, because it is presumed that the nature of the job with the employer allows for such modality of the work.
2. Can an employer terminate an employment agreement due to the pandemic?
The Labor Law does not prescribe the possibility of terminating an employment agreement due to circumstances occurring during a pandemic. In this type of situation, the provision of Article 103 of the Labor Law, which regulates the interruption of work without the fault of an employee, applies. This type of interruption includes also interruption due to the prohibition of the activities by the competent state authority, such as interruption caused by natural disasters (in which the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic belongs).
The same article 103 of the New Labor Law stipulates that in this case the Employee shall be entitled to remuneration during his / her absence from work due to interruption of work which occurred without the fault of the employee in the amount of 60% of the basis of remuneration- his / her average salary achieved in the previous six months and which cannot be lower than minimum wage in Montenegro. Please note that according to the still in force General Collective Agreement the article 25 defines the abovementioned amount as 70%.
Also, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with a written act containing: the reason for the termination of work, the duration of the termination of work and the amount of remuneration.
3. What are the obligations of the employer with regard to health and safety at work due to the epidemiological situation?
Pursuant to the Law on Occupational Safety and Health, it is the obligation of the employer to take necessary measures of occupational health and safety by preventing, eliminating and controlling occupational hazards, with appropriate organization and necessary resources.
The employer is also obliged to inform the employee or employee representative in writing regarding risks to health and safety at work, prevention, health and safety at work measures and activities in relation to each specific workplace and / or job.
*The answers were given in accordance with the new Labor Law currently in force, the General Collective Agreement and the publicly available information provided by the Government of Montenegro, but they certainly represent only general answers that may vary in specific situations due to various factors;