[co-author: Alen Gračić]*
The European Union (EU) has recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina as a potential candidate country for joining the EU. To prepare for joining the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed to the so-called Reform Agenda of 2015 – 2018, which contained socio-economic reforms aimed at moving it closer to EU standards. As a part of these reforms both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska, as well as Brčko District agreed to move towards certain EU labor laws.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska fulfilled their obligations under the Reform Agenda some months ago and now the government of Brčko District has also adopted legislation to ensure compliance. The new labor law was introduced in December 2019 and produces significant changes.
Amongst other things, the law requires employers to provide employees with daily work breaks of not less than 30 minutes for 6 hours of work and certain obligations on employers about informing employees about their schedule of work hours.
The new law also brings changes with regard to the annual leave and paid absences from work. The new law now extends annual leave entitlements to 20 working days (from 18 days), as well as entitlements to paid absences from work from 3 days to 5 days. In addition, employees may now gain 2 additional days of paid absences when they donate blood. The law also introduces a category of force majeure as a reason for a paid absence.
The new law introduces a much more detailed description of discrimination in the field of employment and prescribes in which cases different treatment should not be considered discrimination. Certain provisions of the law regarding overtime work include significant improvements concerning the protection of women, especially pregnant women and mothers with children up to three years old.
The intention behind the new labor law in Brčko District is to provide more rights for employees. However, it remains to be seen how the new legislation will be implemented in practice.
*Karanović & Partners