Pursuant to recent labour regulation amendments, an employer could be released from the obligation to pay mandatory social contributions ("Contributions") for the hired replacement of an employee on a maternity leave, if certain conditions are met. The main intention of these amendments is to increase the protection of female employees and to decrease the risk of termination of an employee due to pregnancy. In order to rely on this exemption, the employer must:
- file a written request to the Employment Agency of the Republic of Macedonia ("Employment Agency") for use of the benefit during the period of the maternity leave;
- provide the replacement employee with the same amount of salary as granted to the employee using the maternity leave; and
- not have any unpaid salaries, taxes or contributions for a period longer than two subsequent months.
Once this benefit is used, an employer cannot fire an employee on maternity leave. This prohibition lasts for the duration of the period when the employer relied on the social contributions exemption in hiring a replacement. As an example, if an employer was exempt from paying social Contributions for a replacement employee for 9 months, the employment of the employee cannot be terminated for the next 9 months upon her return from maternity leave. Employment can be terminated, however, if the employee provides a notarized statement that she no longer wishes to be employed in the respective company.
If the employer fails to meet its obligations related to this benefit, it shall be obliged to return the amount equivalent to the granted exemption from payment of Contributions. This measure will be implemented by the Employment Agency in cooperation with the Public Revenue Office ("PRO"). This means that the Employment Agency will provide the PRO with a list of employers using such benefit, and the PRO will determine whether these employers have any unpaid salaries, taxes or contributions for a period longer than two subsequent months. If the PRO finds an employer to be in arrears in making payments, the benefit will cease to be valid for the respective employer and a procedure of repayment of the funds reimbursed for Contributions will be initiated. This kind of check up by the PRO will be performed once a month.