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Challenges in implementation of the maternity leave in Kosovo

Ramosaj, Argjiro (2012): Challenges in implementation of the maternity leave in Kosovo.

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Abstract

This study aims to analyze the implementation of Labor Law in Kosovo, with a particular attention towards Article 49th which regulates the issue of maternity leave. Labor Law in Kosovo has been in force only for a year, and as such it has been a matter of discussion because of the challenges that have hampered its successful implementation. The study begins with an analysis of the chronological order of labor documents that aimed to regulate labor relationships in Kosovo. Moreover the analysis continues with the exploration of developments of the new Labor law and challenges that is facing while being implements in both public and private sector. Labor Law regulates the labor relationships in both private and public sector in Kosovo. Drafting of Labor Law in Kosovo has been considered a positive process towards establishing legal guidelines in order to ensure sustainable employment relationships in Kosovo. Moreover, the purpose of this law was to provide a legal document which would have the power to fill all the gaps that were left by the previous UNMIK regulation in regards to labor relationships. However, despite the positive expectations that were created towards this law, several challenges that are encountered during its implementation process have consequently produced negative effects in the society where we live. Therefore, when referring to the issue of maternity leave, there are several factors that are harming its successful implementation. Thus, the maternity leave system (6+3+3), together with the limited resources of labor inspectorate, lack of a health insurance fund, and weak judicial system are constantly affecting the success of this regulation in public and private sector in Kosovo. Moreover the confusion between the application of Labor Law and Civil Service law in terms of maternity leave has been another barrier of the proper implementation of this law. According to Article 49 of the labor law, women in Kosovo have the right of 12 months of maternity leave. While analyzing the legal provisions of this regulation, the 12 month period which is prescribed by law ranks Kosovo among countries with the highest maternity leave period. However, the most challenging part of this regulation remains the compensation plan which is divided between the employer and the Government of Kosovo. According to the compensation plan (6+3+3) the first 6 months are paid by the employer with the compensation of 70% of basic salary, and the following 3 months are paid by the government with the compensation of 50% of the average salary in Kosovo. This formula seems to be the root of many problems. Employees in this case are the ones that feel that are discriminated by such a regulation by paying 70 % of the basic salary. Moreover, at the same time they incur additional costs when implementing this regulation, since replacement of the worker who receives maternity should also be paid as well. Taking into consideration all these concerns, majority of businesses have decided to be very selective while hiring people, consequently violating the rights of women. As such, double contracts, contracts with an undetermined period, and other illegal forms are used in order to discourage women that are pregnant to continue working. On the other hand, labor inspectorate which has the authority to supervise the implementation process of the labor law lacks the necessary resources to do so. Some of the barriers that are preventing labor inspectorate to perform their job are: limited number of labor inspectors, insufficient budget, and limited technical resources. Moreover, another challenge it is considered the low capacity of the Municipal Court of Prishtina to deal with cases from all regions of Kosovo that derive from labor relationships. Thus, in the end of the study, further recommendations are presented which need to be implemented in the short-run in order to ensure the successful implementation of labor law. Thus, increase in awareness about the labor law and its regulations in Kosovo should be done in order for employers and employees to be better informed ; creation of the health insurance fund is an urgent need and as such the success story of Albania and other countries in the region are taken into consideration; Strengthening monitoring mechanism that control the implementation of the labor law in private and public sector is needed; and finally the creation of labor courts is considered essential for the successful implementation of the labor law and maternity leave in Kosovo.

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