Corner Press release

The proposed amendments to the Labor Law are discriminatory on grounds of sex 16 December 2013

The new draft-law on amendments to the Labor Law proposed by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in November 2013 introduces a new labor right that can be used only by female workers, i.e. rights to unpaid paternal leave.

The right to unpaid leave does not strengthen workers’ or parental rights due to the fact that the right refers only to women - mothers. This unequal position of women – mothers and men – fathers can only emphasize and encourage the traditional role of women as mothers and nurturers.

In the Republic of Macedonia female workers face with violations to their rights in terms of employment, as well as at the workplace and female labor is less paid and unprotected. Female workers do not have efficient and effective legal and institutional mechanisms and bodies that they can use to protect their rights, and often many of them are fired due to pregnancy or face victimization when they report violations to the provisions of Labor Law.

The Network for Protection against Discrimination that monitors the situation in terms of all forms of discrimination considers that the lack of effective mechanisms for protection, the right to unpaid parental leave will increase the opportunities for abuse and violations of the rights of workers by the employers.

Therefore, we consider that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy should find suitable legal solutions that will help solve these problems and that they should show strong political will to implement the existent legislation that protects women against discrimination on grounds of sex in the labor relations.

The Network for Protection against Discrimination supports the idea that the amendments to the Law on Labor Relations in terms of recognizing the necessity for parents to spend more time with their children and to take care of their normal growth and development. However, the role of raising the child properly does not belong solely to the mother, it also belongs to the father. The proposed legal solution discriminates against men and denies them the right to unpaid parental leave, and on the other hand it emphasizes the role of women in the household in terms of raising the children.

Gender equality and the ban on discrimination on grounds of sex is part of the positive regulations of the Republic of Macedonia and it is the basic principle of many international conventions whose signee is the Republic of Macedonia.

Part of the explanation by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia regarding the causes for adoption of the amendments of the law is to harmonize the national legislation with the legislation of the European Union and the practice of European countries. We remind the Government of the Republic of Macedonia that the standards for pregnancy and paternal leave that are established by the directives of the European Union also establish that both parents equally guaranteed to both parents, whereby they will be able to harmonize their professional and family responsibilities.

We call upon the proposer of the Law – The Government of the Republic of Macedonia through the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy- to withdraw the draft-law for further regulation, i.e. in order to provide both parents to equally enjoy the parental right. 1

1 Since 1989 with the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, measures are sought that will enable the workers (male and female) to harmonize their professional and family life. With the Framework Agreement on Parental Leave from 1995, minimal standards are established with which parental leave is guaranteed as an individual right that belongs to all workers (male and female), and Council Directive 96/34/EC emphasizes that it is an individual right to which all workers (male and female) are entitled to, and which they can divide between themselves, but it cannot be transferred from one parent to the other. According to the Labor Law of the Republic of Macedonia, parental leave can be used by the father if and only if the mother does not use it, which represents a legal decision which is discriminatory for both parents from different aspects.

Contact Person • Dragana Drndarevska, Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities • ++ 389 (0)78 200 675

*The network for protection against discrimination aims to develop strategic representation in cases of discrimination by submitting cases in front of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and in front of the domestic and international courts. The development of the domestic practice is driven by providing free legal assistance in strategic cases of discrimination. The network was established in December 2010 by the following organizations: Foundation Open Society- Macedonia; Association for Health Education and Research (HERA); HOPS- Healthy Options; Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia and the Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women in the Republic of Macedonia (ESE); ROMA S.O.S. Prilep; Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” and the Republic Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disability –PORAKA.

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