Staying compliant with applicable legislation requires constant tracking of new legislation while staying on top of amendments to existing regulations. When employers are not compliant, they risk being fined. No exceptions are made for labor legislation.
Like other regulations, Serbian labor legislation envisages compliance monitoring through specific authorities (e.g. labor inspectors). Since the purpose of compliance monitoring is primarily to determine the potential existence of a compliance breach, employers must be up-to-date with any regulatory changes in order to avoid the risk of being fined.
In the upcoming period, employers should specifically pay attention to the Rulebook on the method of providing first aid, the type of assets and equipment that must be provided at the workplace, the manner and time frame for training of first aiders (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 109/2016) (hereinafter: the “Rulebook”), which came into force on 7 January 2017.
The Rulebook introduced a set of obligations for employers related to first aid in the workplace in order to ensure improved safety in the workplace and to reduce the number of workplace injuries. Although compliance with the majority of these obligations was enforceable immediately upon the entrance of this Rulebook into force, a two-year grace period was given for certain requirements, specifically for the organization of first aid training for employees.
The due date for the first aid training is 7 January 2019. Below is a useful list of employer obligations for those who have still not trained their employees or who have ensured the use of funds and first aid equipment prior to this Rulebook, but are nonetheless obliged to align their business with it. Employers must ensure that:
first aid managers are trained, in addition to at least 2% of the total number of employees in one work shift or locally disposed unit, for basic or advanced training to provide first aid, depending on the estimated risk;
- at least one employee who has completed basic first aid training is present for each work shift and locally separate unit;
- at least one employee with completed advanced first aid training is present at an increased risk workplace;
- all employees are informed which employees are designated and trained to provide first aid;
- employees at increased risk workplaces are trained to be able to help themselves, provided that their condition allows this; and
- a wall cabinet or a first aid kit in work rooms and open spaces are provided (one cabinet or a carry-on first-aid kit, containing all means listed in the Rulebook, is sufficient for up to 20 employees. From 20 to 100 employees and for each next 100 employees, one additional cabinet or carry-on first-aid kit should be provided).
The Rulebook does not stipulate the maximum number of employees who should complete first aid training and be charged with the provision of first aid, meaning that an employer is free to determine this number autonomously, complying with the legally prescribed minimum. When making this designation, the employer should assess an employee’s ability to perform first aid, in particular when it comes to employees who were enrolled in advanced first aid training.
Regarding employee first aid training, the Rulebook sets out certain standards that the employer must meet. The first aid training should:
- comprise theoretical and practical training;
- be adapted to the assessed workplace risks; and
- be carried out according to the First Aid Training Program (Appendix 2 of the Rulebook), which contains the mandatory guidelines on topics that should be elaborated on through both basic and advanced first aid training. The content of the first aid training program must include basic first aid training for all workplace positions, and advanced first-aid training for high-risk workplaces.
Failure to ensure training for an appropriate number of employees for the provision of first aid, rescue and evacuation in case of danger is a misdemeanour, for which the employer could be fined a pecuniary fine ranging from RSD 800,000 to RSD 1,000,000 (approx.. EUR 6,750 – EUR 8,470), while the legal representative of the company may be held personally responsible and fined an amount ranging from RSD 40,000 to RSD 50,000 (approx. EUR 338 – EUR 422).
Although the risk of being fined may influence an employer’s motivation to comply with health and safety regulations, the welfare of their employees should always be their primary focus and main motivation. The sooner the first aid training is completed, the faster employees will be aware how to provide first aid and subsequently reduce the risk or occurrence of workplace injuries.
By Bojana Novakovic, Independent Attorney at Law Deloitte Legal