New safety and health measures the employers must take during an epidemic

The Ministry of Labour adopted the Rulebook on Prevention of Epidemics of Infectious Diseases (Pravilnik o preventivnim merama za bezbedan i zdrav rad za sprečavanje pojave i širenja epidemije zarazne bolesti “Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, no. 94/2020) (“Rulebook“), which will become applicable on 11 July 2020.

The employers must enact a Plan on Implementation of Measures for Prevention of Epidemics of Infectious Diseases (“Plan“) until 10 August 2020 and, while an epidemic is ongoing, regularly adjust it to the orders of the state authorities. The Plan is an annex to the Risk Assessment Act, which is a mandatory internal document containing a description of the work process and an assessment of health risks at work and the measures for removal or decrease of such risk. The Plan must set out: (i) preventive measures and activities; (ii) duties in relation to implementation and supervision of implementation of preventive measures and activities; and (iii) the measures and activities to be undertaken in case of an outbreak of epidemic.

According to the Rulebook, the employer must instruct in writing each new employee, prior to commencement of work, on measures and activities for prevention of epidemic and inform the employee on symptoms of infectious disease when it occurs. During the epidemics, the employer must organize work in shifts. There is also an obligation to disinfect the premises regularly, and keep record of disinfection activities. The list goes on.

The Rulebook also list the preventive measures the employers must take in case of an outbreak of epidemic amongst their employees. For example, they must physically and chemically disinfect the room in which the diseased employee stayed; define precisely the directions in which the employees may move; limit the contact of the employees from the organisational unit in which the infected employee stayed with the other employees to the necessary level, and with all prescribed measures of protection.

The Occupational Safety and Health Officer, which is an employee or a licenced company/entrepreneur, participates in the drafting the Plan; prepares written instructions; supervises the implementation of the measures from the Plan; supervises the use of protective equipment at work; and cooperates with the authorities by reporting on implementation of measures.

The employees are subject to the obligation to, inter alia, abide by preventive measures, use protective equipment at work; take care of hygiene by washing hands regularly and correctly; inform the employer when they or their family members or other employees have symptoms of infectious disease. The Rulebook does not regulate the employer’s rights and obligations when notified of symptoms of the employee or his household member. The employer may prescribe in its Work Rules the amount of salary in lieu the employees are entitled to in case a competent authority or the employer orders suspension of the employee’s activities in a situation where the employee’s presence at the work place tempers with the employer’s ability to provide conditions for safe and healthy work.

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