In December 2015, the Albanian Parliament passed the Law n. 136/2015 introducing important amendments to the Albanian Labour Code n.7961. The aim is to approximate the law with several Council’s Directives of EEC with regard to employment relationship.
Certain aspects, likewise the temporary employment of foreigner citizens, the temporary-work agency, as well as the parental leave are novelties introduced for the first time into Albanian legislation mirroring the provisions of the Council’s Directives n. 2008/104/EC and 2010/18/EU. The law will be effective 6 months as of its publication date last December 22, 2015.
Starting from June 2016, the employers have to take care of several amendments applicable to the maximum working hours, the work conditions, the overtime, the break time, annual leavings, night work, non- discriminations, teleworking possibility, consultations with the employees, and similar. To give you an overview, we are listing herein below the main aspects the amendments of the law:
- Temporary employment of foreigner citizens in Albania: a foreign company may transfer one or more of its employees to work in Albania for a maximum duration of 12 months. The employment contract of the foreigner citizen has to be entered and signed with an Albanian based company. The Albanian based company might be either a subsidiary or branch of the transferring company or a temporary-work agency acting in Albania. The employment relationship of the transferred employee(s) – maximum working hours, minimum annual leave, work conditions, health, safe, and security etc.
Notwithstanding, the law provides the possibility of the foreign citizen to enjoy the privileges set out by the law of his/her country of origin, if this the latter provides morei.e. foreigner citizens - shall be subject to the rules and regulation set out by the Albanian law in particular, to the benefits and advantages to the foreigner citizens instead of the Albanian one.
It is worth noting that, the law envisages exemptions to temporary employment of the foreign citizens providing certain work and services in the construction sector.
Temporary-work agency: the agency may hire an employee to temporary work for another (hosting) company, provided that the duration of the employment contract may not exceed 2 years. In this case, both the agency and the hosting company are held jointly and severally liable to ensure the employee the minimum work conditions, equal treatment, health and safety etc. The agency is the liable to pay the agreed remuneration to the employee as well as the applicable taxes and welfare insurances to the Albanian tax authorities. For the first time, the law envisages the obligations of the agency and the hosting company to agree in writing signing an agreement for the services rendered. The law considers null and void with no legal effect the agreement between the agency and the hosting company which restrict either: (i) the right of the employee to be hired by the hosting company at the end of the employment agreement with the agency; or (ii) obligation of the employee to pay any tariff to the agency for his/her temporary employment with the hosting company.
Non-discrimination: the amendments to art. 9 of law sets out a wide definition of the discrimination, and several obligation imposed to the employer to avoid eventual work discrimination. In addition, for the first time the law envisages the possibility of the employee to file claim to the commissioner of protection from discrimination following well-defined procedures of discriminations protection law.
Necessity to the written form of the employment contract: Differently from the existing law provision, the employer and the employee must enter the employment contract in writing within 7 calendar as his/her employment date instead of 30 days, previously. In case of an international transfer of the Albanian employee, the employer is required to obtain prior approval and consent of the employee being transfer for more than one-month abroad country.
Mobbing and data protection: The amendment of Art. 32 set out a wide definition of malicious, sexual, racial, and general harassment of the employees in the place of work. It also provides a set of rules and obligations imposed to the employer aiming at guarantying the dignity, personal and mental health of the employee. The employer is imposed the obligation to protect personal data of the employee. All personal data processed by the employer during out the employment relationship with the employee must be kept up to six (6) months after the notification date to termination of the employment contract with the employee.
Information and consultation with the employees: art. 33/1 imposes for the first time the obligations of the employer to inform and consult with the representative of the employees prior any eventual reorganisation of the company. The employer must inform the employees’ representative in writing aiming at exchanging information and receiving opinions of the employees. It is worth noting that in case the employer refuses to provide any information considered industrial/professional secrete or refuses to consult, the employees’ representative has the right to file a complaint with the competent civil court within 6 days after the decision of the employer refusing to provide information and consultation to the employees.
Time brake: the amendments of Art.54 details the time brake during working hours. The employee working more than 9 consecutive hours has the right to at least 40 minutes of brake not-payable. While, employee working for more than 6 consecutive hours is entitled to at least 20 minutes of brake (not-payable) to be taken at least after the third hour of work. During the pregnancy period, the employee is entitled to at least 30 min every 3 hours of her working time. The employer and the employee must envisages the duration of the break time in the individual or collective employment agreement signed between them.
Maximum working time and overtime: It is expressly provided in art. 90 that, the maximum overtime that the employer may request to the employee must not exceed 200 hours in a year. Differently from the existing law provision, the maximum working hours in a week of the employee is reduced to 48 hours instead of 50 hours. The employer may not request overtime, in case the employee has already executed the maximum of 48 working hours a week.
Annual leave and other payable leaves: the amendment of art. 92 reaffirm the right of the employee to the minimum annual leave of 4 calendar weeks, payable. This annual leave do not include eventual public holidays. Should this be the case the annual will be postponed consequently. It is expressly provided in law, that the employer may not substitute the right to annual leave in exchange of any payment to the employee. The payment of annual leave to the employee may only apply in case of eventual termination of the employment relationship with the employer. The amendment to art. 96 restates the right of the employee to unpayable leaves in case of serious illness of any of his/her family members, direct descendant or ascendant up to 30 days instead of 10, previously. The employee (presumably male) is entitled to 3 days of payable leave in case of eventual childbirth of the spouse or partner. A woman may not work 63 days (previously 42 days) after the childbirth. In addition, recent amendment of art. 105 suggests the right of an female employee to request a payable rest time of 2 hours during the normal working day or to reduce the working time by two hours, until the 1st birthday of the child.
Parental leave: for the first time, was introduced by art. 132/1. It envisages the right of the employee to request the employer at least 4 months unpayable leave until his/her child reaches 6 years old. The parental leave is individual for each employee and may not be transferred by the mother to the father or vice-versa. It might be transferred only on a specific case. The employee has the right to split the parental leave; in any case, the leave may not be inferior to one week. The employee is entitled to parental leave provided that he/ she is working for the employer for at least 1 consecutive year. Notwithstanding, the employer reserves the right to postpone any eventual request of the employee to parental leave (up to 6 months) due to operational needs of the employer.
Notifications to termination of the employment contract: each party must comply with a notification period before terminating the employment contract with unlimited duration, as follows:
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The possibility to amend in writing the above notification periods was abrogated by the amendment of art. 143 of law therefore each of these notification period is binding and mandatory for the parties. In case the employer terminates the employment contract, the employee is entitled to at least 20 payable working hours a week to search for a new employment contract.
The amendment to art. 140 sets forth that the employment contract has to be entered into between the parties with unlimited duration. A limited duration contract may be applied in case the work assigned to the employee has a temporary nature; otherwise, the employer will subject to administrative fines set out by art. 202 of law.
Other important amendments are introduced to employees’ union and establishment of the regional consultative council of the employees.