The only documents a worker in Serbia can receive in electronic form are a decision for annual leave and a salary slip. All other documents must be provided in paper. At least that's what the inspectors say, referring to the Labor Law. Although the Electronic Document Act equates the importance and strength of paper and electronic forms, and although digitization would provide a higher level of protection of workers' data and bring savings to the economy, the collision of regulations does harm to everyone.
That is why NALED nominated digitization of all documents, electronic delivery and storage of all documents from labor-legal relations as one of the 15 priority recommendations of the new edition of Grey Book. By introducing this new law into the legal framework and establishing this practice, employees could conclude an employment contract in electronic form, and have the rulebook on systematization, a decision on paid leave, unpaid leave, a decision on maternity leave and other documents delivered to them electronically.
- Workers should be given the opportunity to choose whether they want to create and receive these documents electronically or traditionally in paper form. That is why the Grey Book recommendation indicates that a special article to the Labor Law should be introduced, providing for the option of creating, delivering and storing documents, general acts and contracts in digital form. The law now only allows this in two cases - explains Jelena Mićić from NALED.
Electronic seals and signatures have been in daily use in companies for years, and their creation and storage significantly save costs and time. Also, electronic documents provide a high level of data protection and privacy because they are protected by codes, encryption and other security mechanisms. However, the inconsistency of regulations and the misunderstanding of inspection authorities make it difficult for employers and employees to use the benefits that are legally available to them.
Practice shows that inspections often interpret that all documents should be in paper form and companies act accordingly, among other things, due to significant fines, so they must create and archive printed versions of all labor-legal documents.
It often happens in practice that companies have already introduced the digital form of documents, but due to the legal framework and established practice, they print all the documentation and thus do double work. The experiences gained during the pandemic have shown the essential importance of flexible, electronic communication between employers and employees, devoid of unnecessary formality and excessively long procedures.
Given that the advantages of technological progress can contribute to the improvement and modernization of business, the adoption of amendments to the Labor Law in the field of electronic storage and delivery of documentation from labor-legal relations, would be an additional incentive to improve the efficiency of the economy.
The trend of switching to electronic storage and delivery of documents is accelerating in many European countries. Law should keep pace with society, following its development, and for now, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Poland and, since the beginning of this year, Croatia have modernized and digitized their business environment in this way.
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