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CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND THE WORKPLACE

NORTH MACEDONIA

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) AND THE WORKPLACE

As Europe is now the "epicentre" of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Government of North Macedonia (“Government”) has introduced measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). All employers in North Macedonia should comply with the given instructions. 

On 13.03.2020, the Government adopted a Decision on measures for prevention of ingestion and spread and the possibility of contamination from Coronavirus (COVID-19) and ordered companies from different industries and many institutions (schools and pre-school facilities) to have to stay closed up until 24 March 2020.

On its 19th session held od 14.03.2020, the Government of North Macedonia adopted a recommendation for all employers in North Macedonia to organize the work process and the performance of the work from employees through organizing work from home, without disturbing the regular and the normal functioning of the company.

The Governments measures pose challenges for the affected parties, both employers and employees. We will cover some of the situations that employers and employees face in this period:

ABSENCE FROM WORK DUE TO GOVERNMENT MEASURES

Based on the adopted measures of the Government, employees are entitled to paid absence from work in case of custody of children under 10 years old. Only one parent is allowed to use this absence of work. This measure is also applicable for parents of children with disabilities above the age of 10 and pregnant women.

The employee should provide documents to the employer to regulate his/her absence from work. These documents can vary depending on the individual case of the employee (for ex. in case the employee has a child attending pre-school, the employee should provide a confirmation for the attendance of the child in pre-school and a statement given under full moral, criminal and material liability that shall be available to the employer in case urgent matters at work, pregnant women will need to obtain confirmation from gynecologist etc.). Under the current labour legislation, this situation is considered as the employee is prevented to perform its work assignments due to force majeure event and is entitled to remuneration for the days of absence from work in the amount of 50% daily wage. As this is a special situation, the Government may instruct the employers to pay different amount.  

Employees can use the above absence from work until 24.03.2020 but it can be expected that Government will extend this period due to the seriousness of the situation. 

THE EMPLOYEE IS SICK OR HAS BEEN ORDERED QUARANTINE

In the case of an ordered quarantine or self-isolation of an employee, the employer shall excuse his absence from work. During the protected period, the employee is entitled to remuneration from the employer.

Macedonian state authorities should provide further instructions on the amount of remuneration to be paid to the employee. 

OPTION TO WORK FROM HOME

The Government adopted a recommendation for all employers in North Macedonia to organize the work process and performance through organizing work from home.

This recommendation is applicable in cases where performance of work from home does not disturb the regular and the normal functioning of the company. As the coronavirus pandemic is a special situation, all employers are encouraged to follow this recommendation and adapt their work processes.

EFFECTS ON THE PRODUCTION OR OPERATION OF THE EMPLOYER

With the adopted measures, the Government ordered companies in some industries to be closed or to reorganize their work which directly affected the production or operations of the companies. These measures caused reactions from the business sector.

To reduce the negative consequences on the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, the Government announced additional measures to support the companies during this period. These measures include: 

a) direct financial support of liquidity to micro, small and medium-sized companies through the Macedonian Bank for Development Promotion.

A new credit line of 5 million euros will be introduced, through which will be directly credited companies whose business activity is directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Lending will be provided under more favorable terms - longer grace periods, longer repayments and lower interest rates than standard loans.

b) subventions for the contributions to employees in companies in the sectors of tourism, transport, catering and other affected companies, for the months of April, May and June of 2020, with a subsidy of employee contributions up to 50% of the average salary paid in 2019.

On 18.03.2020 the President of North Macedonia, Mr. Stevo Pendarovski declared a state of emergency on the territory of the whole country. The state of emergency will last 30 days. In a state of emergency, the Government will be able to introduce increased limits to citizens’ movement and secure larger amount of funds to support the economy in the country. 

 

Please note that the above information is up to date (18.03.2020) and measures of the Government as well as information from the state institutions are updated on daily basis.