COVID-19 Bosnia and Herzegovina Update

Effects of COVID-19 Outbreak on Employment Issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Last Updated on 25 March 2020, 15:00 CET

Governments in the Federation of (“FBH”) and in the Republic of Srpska declared a state of disaster and emergency on 16 March. Due to the outbreak, a set of measures was introduced in order to prevent further spread of . In the Republic of Srpska, the authorities put a ban on all public gatherings, on work of all catering businesses, gyms and spa centres, bet shops, open markets, private dental clinics, and kindergartens, while they restricted the working hours of shopping malls, grocery stores, soup kitchens, hotels, motels, hostels, gas stations, and pharmacies.

Both Governments are currently considering measures to mitigate economic consequences of COVID-19 situation and are already preparing a set of measures aimed at preserving jobs and liquidity, especially for companies with working capital. No concrete measures have been adopted in respect of employment relationships, so far employers have been instructed to apply existing legislation.

In addition, the status of the employees who due to the current situation need to stay at home and take care of their children is not precisely regulated, so it is up to the employer and employee to resolve this issue.

 

Remote Work

Remote work has been strongly recommended. If this is not possible, the employers should undertake all necessary measures to ensure health and safety at work (limited number of persons in the same room, personal protective equipment and similar). Employment legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina provides for remote work. As working from home is introduced as a preventive measure for employees’ health and is strongly recommended by Governments, most companies notified their employees by e-mail/telephone that they are switching to remote work and so far, this approach has not been objected by the authorities. Employees working remotely have the same rights as regular employees in terms of salary, daily and weekly breaks, annual leave, etc.

 

Temporary Work Suspension

In case of temporary work suspension due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the law in FBH provides for a possibility of paid leave during which the employees would be entitled to compensation under terms and conditions prescribed for circumstances of force majeure either by employment rulebook or employment agreement. Otherwise, if the amount and terms and conditions under which compensation is paid to employees in these circumstances are not prescribed as indicated above then the employer would likely need to pay full compensation.

 

Paid Leave

The possibility to grant a paid leave to employees in case of work suspension is also provided by the Labour Law in the Republic of Srpska, with a significant difference for the employer in terms of compensations as an employee is entitled to compensation of at least 50% of the salary. When deciding to take such measures, it would be necessary to consult a trade union or workers’ council if such are established with the employer.

Employees who are ill and employees in quarantine are entitled to sick leave.

In FBH an employee is entitled to compensation of 80% of salary paid to the employee in the preceding month. The compensation is paid by the employer, who is entitled to reimbursement of paid compensation by the competent cantonal insurance fund.

In the Republic of Srpska, an employee is entitled to 70% – 90% of salary. For the first 30 days of the sick leave, the compensation is borne by the employer in the amount of 70% to 90% of the salary, as determined by the collective agreement or internal acts of the employer.  After a period of 30 days, the Health Fund of the Republic of Srpska bears the compensation in the amount of 90% of the above-outlined salary up to 12 months. The compensation is paid by the employer, who is then entitled to reimbursement of paid compensation by the RS Health Fund.

 

The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.