Changes in the Work Code in Albania

Monday, May 23rd 2016

Several amendments that the Albanian government made in the Work Code are expected to be enacted next month. The aim of the left wing majority is to increase the employees’ benefits.

Now, companies are obliged to draft new work contracts, which will incorporate the new amendments made to the Work Code.

The truth is that many employment contracts have been and continue to be fictitious.

Thus, although the employment contract entitled the employee to four weeks of holiday a year, very few companies offered more than two weeks. The part which offers financial compensation for unused holiday, is fictitious because it is applied to a very small extent.

Another obligation is two offer employees two days off a week, but even this is not applied massively. The salaries are also fictitious, because many companies use two financial statements. What’s more, extra hours and work on holidays is almost never paid. But here, the problem starts with the state because for years, no state institution has not done anything to guarantee employees double pay in cases when the law entitles them to this.

Based on this, the Work Code has changed and the application of the new code will start on 22 June. With the new amendments, every employee is entitled to annual leave and this leave cannot be substituted with financial compensation.

As far as working hours are concerned, they remain 40 a week, but as of now, the employee can also work 8 extra hours a week, but no more than 200 hours a year, as opposed to 480 hours allowed to work now.

When a child is born, leave is now offered for both parents. The mother is given 63 days of maternity leave as opposed to 42 days which are given now.

Meanwhile, the leave given before birth remains 35 days.

Another novelty of the bill is the paternity leave. According to the changes made in the law, in cases when a woman is unable to remain at home for a period of 1 year in order to care for the newly born, the same entitlement is also given to fathers.

According to the law, the man can take his paternity leave only when the child is 63 days old, a time that marks the end of the maternity leave. “Upon expiry of the 63 days of maternity leave, the father or the adoptive father is entitled to paternity leave if the mother is no longer entitled to it”, the law says.

Once they go back to work, 63 days after the birth of the child, parents are entitled two take two hours of paid leave a day. Thus, they can work six hours and be paid for eight hours.

Meanwhile, for children up to 6 years old, they are entitled to no less than four months up to six months of unpaid leave a year. This means that in agreement with the employer, the job position can be preserved.

Another novelty consists on the creation of temporary employment agencies, which secure legal protection for all of those people who haven’t been protected so far, such as plumbers, electricians, cleaners, babysitters, construction workers, etc.

Meanwhile, students attending professional schools who will conduct their internship at a company, will now be paid and not work for free like they did before.

The recent changes also come as an obligation of the Albanian government to harmonize the Albanian legislation with the legislation of the European Union.

The head of the Work Relations Office at the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, Erion Manohasa, says that another change relates to the burden of proof. “If the employee claims that he has suffered discrimination, then the employer must prove the contrary”.

Hasa says that this amendment is expected to offer more protection for employees and avoid discrimination. “We believe that this will increase the awareness of employers, who must follow every procedure accurately. In order to avoid any cases of abuse, work relations must be documented as good as possible, in order to avoid lawsuits”.

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