What could extending of working life to 70 years of age in Serbia bring?

Photo: Oktobarski salon / Facebook

If the initiative to change the labour law passes, Serbia might extend working life to 70 years of age for those who wish to remain active. According to the daily newspaper Politika, the initiative has already been adopted by eminent experts at a session dedicated to the questions of contemporary legislative held in Budva city, Montenegro.

Employees could voluntarily remain active to up to five years after they meet the requirements for old-age pension, providing that the employer needs their services at the same time. This was stated at a counselling session organized by the Serbia and Republika Srpska lawyers’ union.

The new legislative covering possibilities of employment for those older than 65 allegedly wouldn’t interfere with the existing Law on Retirement and Disability Insurance.

According to the latter, men are eligible for old-age pension when they turn 65 and have the length of insurance coverage of at least 15 years, while the age condition for women changed recently. At the beginning of 2019 The Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs announced to change the old-age pension age requirements progressively until 2032, when it would reach 65.

According to the labour law, an employee who has proved to be eligible for retirement according to the existing legislative on pension and disability insurance can freely decide whether he will activate his right to pension, or keep working until the age 65 – which is currently both an old-age pension condition and the working life limit.

As Mario Reljanović, professor at the Institute for Comparative Law, stated, the initiative to change the labour law isn’t surprising in itself, and could prove to be a technicality. Namely, it might serve the purpose of adjusting the working life age limits in relation to the old-age retirement conditions, given that it isn’t logical for them to match: “If we are dealing with changes to the age condition for working life limit, as regulated by the labour law, that represents a logical consequence of the existence of the present limit, which at the same time acts as the old-age pension requirement”.

However, these changes could be used as basis for future changes of the law on pension and disability insurance, of the type that might not sit well with the public – namely, if the age condition for old-age retirement gets moved to 67 years of age, conforming to the European trends, Reljanović stated.

Stefan Aleksić, researcher at the Clean Clothes Campaign Serbia, considers this solution to be one of the mechanisms of adjusting the labour conditions to the needs of the investors and private entrepreneurs.

A number of industries in our country are already dependent on older and more experienced workers. Such is the textile industry: younger workers are more prone to trading a bad and poorly payed employment in the textile industry to a better job, or to remain unemployed.

The older workers are, Aleksić states, often pressured to keep their positions in order to provide for their families, on one hand, and less ready to search for temporary employment abroad, on the other.

The move for extending working life will be addressed to the ministries in charge, which have the authority to propose amendments and additions to the labour law to the Serbian Government. The final authority on the matter lies in the hands of the Serbian Parliament.

I.P.

Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić

This article was originally published in Serbian on Jun 10, 2019.

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