Employment Contract for a Fixed Term In Legal System of Serbia

An employment contract, through which the employer and the employee establish an employment relationship, can be concluded for an indefinite or definite period.

An employment contract for a fixed term is a type of employment contract that is concluded for a specific period and is based on the temporary needs of the employer or specific circumstances that justify such a form of employment. Here are some characteristics of an employment contract for a fixed term:

Defined period: This type of contract has a clearly defined start and end, meaning a start date and an end date of the contract.

Time-limited: An employment contract for a fixed term has a limited duration, which can be a maximum of 24 months, unless the law provides exceptions.

Temporary nature: This type of contract is usually used for positions of a temporary nature, such as seasonal jobs, replacements for absent employees, project work, or work on specific projects with anticipated completion.

Lower job security: Employees on a fixed-term contract usually have lower job security compared to permanent employees because their employment relationship is limited to a specific period.

Rights and obligations: Employees on a fixed-term contract have rights and obligations regulated by law and the contract itself, such as the right to wages, breaks, health insurance, as well as obligations regarding job tasks and workplace behavior.

Possibility of extension: In certain situations, an employment contract for a fixed term can be extended after the expiry of the initially anticipated period, under conditions prescribed by law.

How long can a fixed-term contract last?

The Labor Law stipulates that an employment contract can be concluded for a fixed term to establish an employment relationship whose duration is predetermined by objective reasons – the existence of a deadline, the completion of a specific task, or the occurrence of a specific event. The legislator suggests by the cited provision that the employment relationship is by its nature of a more lasting character (for an indefinite period), but that in the case of objective reasons, which can be anticipated to last only for a certain period of time, the employment relationship can be concluded for a fixed term, while these reasons last.

The Labor Law states the following: The employer may conclude one or more employment contracts for a fixed term on the basis of which the employment relationship with the same employee is established for a period that, with or without interruptions, cannot exceed 24 months, provided that a break shorter than 30 days is not considered an interruption. Therefore, according to Serbian legislation, the employer can extend the fixed-term employment contract up to a maximum duration of 24 months, provided that the total duration of the fixed-term employment contract does not exceed 36 months. Accordingly, after the expiration of a total period of 24 months of employment on a fixed-term basis with one employee, the employer may choose between two options – termination of the employment relationship or establishment of an indefinite-term employment relationship.

It is important to note that after the expiration of 24 months of engagement under a fixed-term employment contract, it is not possible to conclude a new fixed-term employment contract with the same employee solely because there was a break longer than 30 days or because there has been a change in job description. This applies to regular fixed-term employment contracts. However, there are certain exceptions and specific situations in which fixed-term contracts can be extended or concluded according to the law.

In which situations can a fixed-term contract last longer than two years?

In some cases, a fixed-term employment contract can last longer than the standard 24 months (two years), in accordance with certain exceptions and specific situations regulated by law. In Serbia, for example, there are certain exceptions to the limitation of the duration of fixed-term employment contracts. Here are a few such situations:

If necessary due to the replacement of a temporarily absent employee until their return to work: applies when it is known that a certain employee will be absent from work for some time (e.g., due to maternity leave, performing a public function, extended sick leave, etc.). The person engaged as a replacement for the absent worker will work until the return of the absent employee to work (e.g., the end of sick leave), no matter how long it takes.

For work on a project with a predetermined duration, up to the completion of the project. If a fixed-term employment contract is concluded with a specific person for their engagement on a project that is time-limited, it is possible to sign a fixed-term employment contract that will last until the completion of the project, even if the project lasts longer than 24 months.

With a foreign national, based on a work permit in accordance with the law. This contract may last until the expiration of the period for which the work permit was issued in the Republic of Serbia, and even longer than 24 months.

For work at a newly established employer whose registration with the competent authority at the time of conclusion of the employment contract is not older than one year, for a total duration not exceeding 36 months. Newly established employers have the opportunity to conclude one or more fixed-term employment contracts with the same employee within the first year from the date of registration, based on which the fixed-term employment relationship can last for up to 36 months.

With an unemployed person who is missing no more than 5 years of pensionable service until meeting one of the conditions for retirement, a fixed-term employment contract can be concluded until meeting the conditions for retirement and for a period longer than 24 months, but for a maximum period of 5 years.

Special protection against dismissal during pregnancy and maternity leave

In Serbia, female workers who are pregnant or have recently given birth have special rights and protections regarding employment on a fixed-term employment contract. Here are some key points regarding this:

Dismissal prohibition: According to the Labor Law in Serbia, a pregnant worker or a worker in maternity leave cannot be dismissed during that period, regardless of the type of employment contract she has.

Protection during pregnancy and maternity leave: A pregnant woman or a worker in maternity leave is entitled to special protection during pregnancy and after childbirth. This includes the right to leave for prenatal examinations, the right to maternity leave, as well as the right to wage compensation during leave, which is usually paid from the funds of the Social Security Fund.

Extension of the employment contract: If a female worker is employed on a fixed-term employment contract and her contract expires during pregnancy or maternity leave, the employer is obliged to extend that contract until the expiration of the maternity leave.

Prohibition of discrimination: The Labor Law also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy or maternity status. This means that a female worker cannot be discriminated against in the process of employment, working conditions, or contract termination due to pregnancy or maternity leave.

These protections are regulated by law and should be respected regardless of the type of employment contract the female worker has.

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