The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 in North Macedonia prompted the Macedonian Government and other relevant institutions to adopt immediate measures in order to counteract and limit the spread of the virus. The majority of the measures are directed towards employers with regard to prevention of contamination of their employees with the virus. Such measures impact the organization and work of many enterprises and the respective relations with the employees working therein.
Below we present a brief overview of the recent measures imposed by the Macedonian authorities and the actions which employers may consider as a response to the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Preventive measures of the Macedonian authorities and their impact on employers
On 10 March 2020 the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted a set of preventive measures against the spreading of COVID-19 which were subsequently broadened. As a result, all schools, restaurants, shopping centres, entertainment and gaming halls, etc. have been closed for business.
Commercial establishments are allowed to carry out their sales activities through online orders and/or phone orders via delivery services while strictly observing the requirements in terms of sanitation and hygiene.
Supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to carry out their activity while strictly observing the requirements in terms of sanitation and hygiene.
The Minister of Healthcare provided an exhaustive list of employees that are eligible to be released from their working activities by their employers. Mainly these employees are those who suffer from chronical diseases to the respiratory organs, employees with cardiovascular diseases, pregnant women, etc.
In addition, one of the parents of a child up to 10 years of age is eligible to be released from their working activities in order to be able to take care of their child while in isolation.
Further to the above, the Minister of Healthcare suggested that if possible, employers should provide to their employees the option to work from home as a form of self-isolation. In cases where work from home is not possible due to the nature and specifics of the work performed, employers are obliged to implement all anti-epidemic measures.
In view of the above in order to fully comply with the counteractive measures, employers are faced with new challenges such as decrease of the workload leading to partial of full suspension of their business activity. Such challenges in turn result in complications in terms of the relations between the employers and their respective employees.
Employer’s options for compliance with the measures
Since the Macedonian labour law does not contain specific provisions related to organization of the work in extraordinary circumstances which employers may consider, there are several actions related to organization of the work in accordance with the measures adopted by the Government which employers may consider, namely:
In a recent statement Macedonian authorities announced that they may consider introducing measures in order to mitigate the negative effect of the outbreak and the implemented counteractive measures on employers and their activities.
The measures would be aimed at encouraging the employers to keep their employees at work instead of dismissing them due to reduction of the workload.
As of 16 March 2020, the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce of Northwest Macedonia, the Macedonian ICT chamber of commerce and the Association of Chambers of Commerce submitted before the Government a request for measures dealing with the emerging situation caused by COVID-19.
With regard to taxation, the business sector requires postponing of tax liabilities, moratorium on monthly income tax and other adequate measures.
The Government may additionally decide upon the proposals and any further preventive measures.
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