Shortening of payment of sick leave compensation at the expense of the employer and proposal of amendment of the Employment Relationships Act

At its session held on 26 January 2022, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Amendments to the Employment Relationships Act (ZDR-1C), which was published on 4 February 2022 in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 15-215/2022, which shortens the period of payment of compensation for sick leave at the expense of the employer.

The amended Article 137 of the Employment Relationships Act stipulates in the third paragraph that the employer pays salary compensation from its own resources in cases of incapacity of the employee for work due to his/her illness or non-work-related injury, up to 20 working days (previously 30) for individual absence from work, but for a maximum of 80 working days (previously 120) in a calendar year. In cases of incapacity for work due to an occupational disease or injury at work, the employer pays salary compensation to the employee from its own resources for up to 30 working days for each individual absence from work. During long periods of absence from work, the employer pays salary compensation to the debit of health insurance.

The fourth paragraph of Article 137 of the Employment Relationships Act has also been amended, which regulates the circumstances of several consecutive absences of the employee from work and stipulates that in case of two or more consecutive absences from work due to the same illness or non-work-related injury up to 20 working days (previously 30), but in an individual case a break between one and the other absence lasts less than 10 working days, the employer pays for the period of further absence from the break onwards salary compensation to the debit of health insurance.

The Amendment to the Employment Relationships Act (ZDR-1C) enters into force on the fifteenth day after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia and it is applicable from 1 March 2022.

Due to the shortening of the length of payment of salary compensation during the sick leave for the employer, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia at its session on 26 January 2022 also adopted the Act Amending the Health Care and Health Insurance Act (ZZVZZ-R), which was on 4 February 2022 published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 15-216/2022, by which the text of the Act was adapted to the above summarized amendments of the Employment Relationships Act, which will also be applicable from 1 March 2022.

Another important amendment of the Employment Relationships Act may be expected in the coming months. On 7 January 2022, the Slovenian Police Trade Union on behalf of voters submitted the Proposal of Amendments to the Employment Relationships Act to the National Assembly.

In the proposal, the Slovenian Police Trade Union proposes an amendment to the currently valid Article 85 of the Employment Relationships Act, which regulates the obligations of the employer before termination of the employment contract. The first paragraph of Article 85 of the current Employment Relationships Act stipulates the employer’s obligation in case of regular termination of the employment contract due to fault reason and stipulates that the employer shall no later than 60 days from the finding of the breach and no later than six months from the occurrence of the breach notify the employee in writing of the fulfilment of obligations and the possibility of termination of the employment contract if the employee again breaches contractual and other obligations from employment relationship in one year following the receipt of the written warning, unless stipulated differently by the collective agreement at the activity level, but however not longer than in two years. The second paragraph of the article in question regulates the obligation of the employer before regular termination due to incapacity or fault reason and before extraordinary termination of the employment contract. It stipulates that the employer must inform the employee in writing of the alleged breach or the alleged reason for incapacity and allow him to defend himself within a reasonable time, which may not be less than three working days, unless there are circumstances which would make it unreasonable to expect the employer to enable this to the employee.

The Slovenian Police Trade Union proposes that the above-mentioned warnings of the employer be additionally regulated by law, namely,

  • that the employer may issue a written warning to the employee referred to in the first or second paragraph above only if there is a well-founded fault reason or a reason of incapacity specified in Article 89 of the Employment Relationships Act. These reasons are:
    1. failure to achieve the expected work results because the employee does not perform work on time, professionally and with quality, failure to meet the conditions for performing work specified by laws and other regulations issued on the basis of law, due to which the employee does not fulfil or cannot fulfil contractual or other obligations (the reason for incapacity), or
    2. breach of a contractual obligation or other obligation arising from an employment relationship (fault reason); and
  • that the employee has the right to judicial protection against the warning referred to in the first paragraph under the conditions and in accordance with the procedure laid down for the regular termination of the employment contract. The employer may start the procedure of regular termination of the employment contract only after a court decision by which the court determines the validity of such a warning becomes final.

It is the opinion of the Slovenian Police Trade Union  that the proposed amendments to the currently valid Article 85 of the Employment Relationships Act thus more clearly stipulate that the reasons for issuing a warning to an employee must be grounded (fault or incapacity reason), and introduce the right to a legal remedy against the warning. According to the Slovenian Police Trade Union, the proposed regulation prevents the arbitrary conduct of employers, who often abuse the institute of written warning to put pressure on employees and harass them. On 10 February 2022, the Slovenian Government already published its opinion on the Proposal of Amendments to the Employment Relationships Act, in which it expressed its disagreement with the proposed amendments and pointed out its inconsistency and ambiguity.

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