Worker’s rights in Croatia are regulated by the law on labor. If you have ever been an employee in Croatia, you may be thinking, “What rights? I’m just a mule to peddle mojitos to tourists.” Workers actually have a lot of rights, far more than the employer.
If working or planning to work in Croatia, it is vital to know your rights as an employee. It is all too common for Croatian employers to take advantage of employees who don’t know their rights as a worker. If you are an employer, take care of your employees and it will pay off. Also, STOP ABUSING YOUR WORKERS.
In this post, we’re going to start with the top 10 rights you have as a worker and definitely need to know about if you are working in Croatia. Then we’ll cover what to do if you think your rights have been violated, because there ARE things you can do.
1. Discrimination is forbidden
Any kind of direct or indirect discrimination is strictly forbidden. This applies to both the work place and working conditions. Discrimination is forbidden at any time during the interview process, contracted employment, and termination.
According to the law on discrimination, you cannot discriminate on the basis of “race or ethnic origin or color of skin, sex, language, religion, political or other beliefs, national or social background, wealth, union membership, education, social status, marital or family status, age, health status, disability, genetic heritage, gender identity, expression or sexual orientation.”
2. Safe working conditions
The workplace must be safe and set up to prevent accidents. Working conditions cannot endanger a worker’s health, life, or right to privacy. If equipment is required to execute the job, the worker must be provided safety clothes, helmets, gloves or any other necessary safety equipment by the employer.
3. Permanent employment agreement
Once you have worked on a limited-term contract for 3 years, your employer is required to offer you a permanent employment agreement or terminate your employment. You cannot work more than 3 consecutive years on a limited-term contract. If your employer is trying to put you on a fourth limited-term contract instead of offering you permanent employment, warn your employer of your right to a permanent contract.
In addition, if your employer fails to notify you at the end of your three years and you continue to work past the contract expiration, you have an automatic right to permanent employment. The window to terminate you without the offer of permanent employment expires the last day of your three years.
4. Education at work
If your job requires specific education, training or improvement, it is your right as a worker to get this education and your employer is required by law to provide or pay for it. No one can do their job to the best of their ability without proper training. Any investment in an employee will only benefit the company. If any changes occur to your job responsibilities, your employer is obligated to prepare you.
5. Pauza (working break)
Every employee has the right to a daily 30-minute pauza (break). This break is included in the daily working time and is therefore paid. The working day usually lasts for 8 working hours.
Each week, a worker has the right to two days off. You also have the right to 12 hours off between two consecutive working days. To be crystal clear, if you are not provided with two days off per week, your employer is breaking the law. This means that most tourism companies all along the coast are breaking the law constantly when they require their workers to work 6 or 7 days per week during high season as a standard.
If you are told that you are required to work 6 or 7 days per week, you have the right to say no. It is also against the law for your employer to fire or punish you for saying no. If they are asking you to work extra due to an emergency, they must give you written notice of this and also give you time off as soon as the “crisis” passes.
The standard work week is defined as 40 hours. You may work up to 60 hours per week, as long as you are paid overtime for this extra time. Overtime cannot be a substitute for the 2 days you are obligated to have off each week. Also, you cannot work more than 60 hours per week. That is also forbidden.
6. Godišnji (holidays)
A worker has the right to an annual paid vacation of 4 weeks. During this vacation, a worker receives their salary as usual. You can’t give up these free days and you must use all of them before the end of the fiscal year, which occurs on June 30.
7. Trudnoća (pregnancy)
Every pregnant woman has the right to maternity leave (called “porodiljni” in Croatian) in addition to other work-free days for child care (shorter working hours, daily pauza for breastfeeding, etc.).
An employer cannot terminate an employment contract with a woman because she is pregnant during her pregnancy and up to 6 months after the child is born. The protection period after the child is born is longer for second and third children. Additionally, employers cannot ask for information about a woman’s pregnancy.
8. Temporary inability to work (sick leave)
If you are temporarily unable to work, you have the right to return to your old position or a similar one once you get better. Your employer cannot fire you while on sick leave (called “bolovanje”). If you were fired while on leave, suffered an injury or caught a disease at work, you have the right to severance pay (called “otpremnina “).
9. Plaća (salary)
Every person has the right to be paid and receive salary for their work. Women and men have equal rights when it comes to work and pay. You also have the right to an increased salary due to difficult working conditions, overtime, and night work, as well as working on Sundays and national holidays.
Salary must be paid by the 15th of each month. If not paid, the company is at risk for fines. However, in practice, many Croatian businesses will go without paying their employees for months. Many employees don’t know their rights, or just accept the widespread corruption, so they don’t sue their employers to get their back pay.
If your employer is not paying you on time, you can go straight to court to report it.
10. Cancellation periods (otkaz) and severance (otpremnina)
If you’ve been fired or have quit your job, again, there are some rights that must be respected. The first one is your right to a cancellation period and the second is severance pay. They both mostly depend on the employer and the reason why a person is leaving the job.
A cancellation period is a term that starts after quitting your job, which lasts until you leave the company. The cancellation period usually depends on the number of days you worked in the company (ranging from 2 weeks to 3 months).
You are required to continue working during this cancellation period. If you do not, your employer can sue you. This is one of the few protections that employers have over workers, but honestly it makes sense. If you quit, your employer needs time to find someone to replace you.
Some employers will allow you to negotiate the cancellation period or waive it entirely.
Severance pay is a payment outside of your salary that you may get after being fired or when you retire. The company pays you a specific amount of money according to the days you worked for the company (as long as you worked for them at least two years). You can’t get severance pay if you quit the job or if were fired due to inappropriate behavior (like you were bad at your job).
If you are fired, you can only get severance pay if you were fired for a business-related reason like downsizing of the company or your position is no longer needed. In cases like these, the employer is forbidden from hiring someone in the same role for a period of 6 months after you are let go.
What if your worker rights are being violated?
Now that you are familiar with your fundamental rights as a worker, don’t hold your tongue if your rights are being violated at work. Unfortunately, the violation of worker’s rights is widespread in Croatia. One of the best ways to change that is to fight back against any violations.
If you think that your employer has violated your rights, but are not sure, we recommended paying a visit to HZZ or consulting with a lawyer, which is free (we can recommend one if you contact us). HZZ is an advisory agency that can guide you on the law.
However, it is important to know that there are specific procedures and time limits associated with escalating an issue, which we’ve explained in detail in this post. If you don’t follow the procedure or deadlines, then you will lose your rights so act quickly.
Damn the man!