According to the law on prevention of harassement at the workplace, what is mobbing?
’’Harassment, pursuant to this Law, shall include any active or passive conduct at work or related to work against an employee or group of employees, which recurs, aiming at or representing violation of dignity, reputation, personal and professional integrity, health, or the employee’s position and which causes fear or creates an unfriendly, humiliating or offensive environment, aggravates the working conditions or results in isolation of the employee or leads the employee to terminate the contract of employment or another type of contract upon his own initiative.
(Article 6 of the Law on prevention of harassment at the workplace, ’’Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia’’, No. 36 as of May 28th 2010).
How to identify mobbing?
- Disrupted communication: intentional prevention of the employee to state his/her opinion, being yelled at, being threatened, insulted and any type of similar behaviour.
- Disrupted interpersonal relations: being isolated, ignored, being deprived of work equipment, blocked communication, withholding the information and the like.
- Attack on personal dignity: comments on personal life of the employee, backbiting, insulting and the like.
- Violation of professional integrity: unjustified criticism and control, undermining of work results, giving tasks that are below the level of knowledge and experience of the employee, inadequate deadlines, exclusion from professional and educational programmes and the like.
- Deliberate health impairment: creation of stressful situations, being threatened with dismissal and the like.
- sexual harassment – sexist comments, unwanted physical contacts, promotion or demotion that depends on the acceptance of sexual offers.
(Article 12 of the Rulebook on Rules of Conduct of the Employer and Employees Concerning the Prevention and Protection from Harassment at the workplace, ”Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, 62/10).
How to protect yourself against mobbing?
In the internal procedure of the employer, under the Law on Prevention of Harassment at Workplace (Articles 13 – 30) and in the procedure before the Republic Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Dispute, under the Law on Amicable Resolution of Labour Disputes, in arbitration, which shall establish the existence of mobbing and define the measures for the normalization of such condition.
What is the abuse of right to protection and how is it established and sanctioned?
„In terms of the present law, the abuse of right to protection against harassment is committed by an employee who was aware or must have been aware that there were no reasonable grounds for initiation of the procedure for protection against harassment, but has nevertheless initiated or caused the initiation of such procedure with the aim to acquire material or non-material gain for himself/herself or other person or inflict damage to the other party “ (Article 11 and Article 23)
In the event that mediation procedure fails and there is a reasonable doubt that the harassment has been committed or that the right to protection against harassment has been abused, the employer is obliged to initiate the procedure to establish the responsibility of the employee for the violation of work discipline or the violation of work duty, in accordance with the law.
The sanctions are: reprimand, suspension from work from four to 30 working days without entitlement to salary compensation, permanent transfer to another work environment or a job position – for the performance of the same or different tasks, in accordance with the law (Labour Law).
Since the Labour Law does not define the procedure in which the violation of work discipline can be established, this is left to the discretion of the employer. For the purposes of legal security of the employees, the procedure for the establishment of work discipline should be defined in a separate act.
What are the experiences of the agency in the resolution of disputes in connection with mobbing?
Since the Law on Prevention of Harassment at Workplace came into force, the most proposals that the Agency has received have been to initiate the procedure of individual labour disputes in connection with mobbing. A good indicator is the fact that in the first 2 months of 2015, all 20 Proposals related to mobbing. The consent of the employer is obtained in 1/5 of the proposals, which is proportionate to the consent obtained in other labour disputes.
It will be interesting to note that mobbing was established in 30% of the cases, whereas 50% related to the violation of other employment rights and 20% were suspected abuse of right to protection.