EaSI call: Establishing and testing integrated interventions aimed at supporting people in (the most) vulnerable situations, Deadline: 15 October 2020

This call for proposals aims to support existing or new partnerships in testing innovative approaches supporting in particular the delivery of Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

This call for proposals aims to support existing or new partnerships in testing innovative approaches supporting in particular the delivery of Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The call will support innovative and experimental local/regional-level projects aimed at putting in place comprehensive strategies, mechanisms and services ensuring a holistic approach to support people in (the most) vulnerable situations.

EESPN countries that can participate in the call include EU Member States, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The deadline for the call is: 15 October 2020.

Please read the details here

North Macedonia’s Government Response to COVID-19

Since declaring the existence of a state of emergency on 18 March 2020, the Government of North Macedonia has swiftly introduced a series of temporary measures to prevent and mitigate the negative economic and social consequence of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemics. Until now, in addition to the public health prevention measures, three packages of Governmental measures have been put in use…

Aleksandra Slavkoska & Ana Georgievska (European Centre’s NLO North Macedonia), Ministry of Labor and Social Policy of North Macedonia

Since declaring the existence of a state of emergency on 18 March 2020, the Government of North Macedonia has swiftly introduced a series of temporary measures to prevent and mitigate the negative economic and social consequence of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemics. Until now, in addition to the public health prevention measures, three packages of Governmental measures have been put in use (“Covid1”, “Covid 2”, “Covid 3”) providing financial assistance to companies as direct support with wage subsidies, tax reliefs, credit support, zero interest loans, support to vulnerable households, unemployment measures, support for education, and other additional regulatory and legislative measures allowing bigger flexibility of the existing procedures related to managing economic activities, trade, etc. This article focuses on the employment retention measures, worker protection measures and support for the most vulnerable individuals.

With regard to key measures aimed at protecting jobs, North Macedonia has implemented a set of employment retention measures. The following two measures are by far the most important: Firstly, a wage subsidy covering the net minimum wage (14,500 MKD or 236 EUR) for the months of April and May for eligible firms and workers; and secondly, a social insurance contribution subsidy, covering 50 per cent of actually paid social security contributions, up to a maximum amount of 5,752 MKD (or 94 EUR) for eligible firms and workers, for April, May and June. This amount corresponds to the maximum amount payable on a net wage of 39,900 MKD. This is conditional on retaining the same number of workers until July (for the minimum wage) and until August (for the social contributions).

The lockdown immediately affected some workers, especially those outside the formal economy, as well as some vulnerable categories who were already out of work. In response, the Government introduced a set of measures aimed at protecting those who have lost their jobs and other sources of income, as well as their families. On two occasions, the Government relaxed the eligibility rules for the main instrument providing a social protection floor, that is, the guaranteed minimum income. According to these new rules established by the Decree in April, the status of “materially deprived household” can be conferred already one month after combined household income did not exceed the guaranteed minimum income level—the pre-lockdown requirement was three months. Previously, eligibility criteria excluded any type of property. Currently, guaranteed minimum income applicants may still be eligible even if they own an apartment (which the household uses as primary residence), a car more than five years old and a plot of land for construction not exceeding 500 square metres. In addition, workers who lost their job because of non-performance, left the job of their own accord or were shifted from the “active” to the “passive” register of the Employment Service Agency, have become eligible to apply for the guaranteed minimum income. Guaranteed minimum assistance beneficiaries are at the same time allowed to continue exercising the entitlement to the cash benefit for covering part of their households’ energy consumption costs for the months from April to September 2020.

Moreover, about 17,000 children coming from households that are of guaranteed minimum assistance beneficiaries were provided with access to the entitlement to child and education allowance, with the ultimate goal of alleviating child poverty. School-age children coming from socially insecure families were provided with mobile Internet cards so that they could follow on-line classes.

Importantly, under the “COVID 3” package, the rules governing eligibility of unemployment benefit were relaxed temporarily so that people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 between 11 March and 30 April became eligible to claim two-month unemployment benefits regardless of their years of service and the ground for termination of the employment contract.

The Decree with the Force of Law on the Application of the Law on Labor Relations adopted by the Government made it possible for women workers who are absent from work due to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood and adoption to continue to receive compensation to salary until the cessation of the interim measures undertaken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In fact, upon the closure of schools and kindergartens, the first measures taken by the Government of North Macedonia were those aimed at protecting one of the working parents of minors under the age of 10 who need care, pregnant women and chronically ill people. In this regard, the Government instructed employers in the public sector and recommended to private sector employers, for employees who have a minor child up to 10 years of age for whom home care is necessary, that one parent be released from work and work activities and that their absence during this period should be recorded as a justified absence by the employer, while pregnant women and the chronically ill should be released temporarily from work and work activities (that is, not go to work and remain in their homes).

Through the Centers for Social Work, more than 600 packages with protective and hygiene products were provided and distributed to the most vulnerable families, especially those living in substandard conditions. Additionally, in the period from May to July, 4,300 food and hygiene kits are to be distributed to social security beneficiaries, low-income foster families, and families that are guaranteed minimum assistance beneficiaries, who have a child with disabilities in their family.

Furthermore, the elderly and frail, the socially isolated, single parents, and the homeless have been provided with psychological support by telephone every day from 10 am to 2 pm.  The Red Cross has established a support line for the purposes of the service for provision of food, hygiene products, and medicines for the elderly, frail, and lonely.

The soup kitchens in the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia continued to work during this period, thus providing the vulnerable groups of citizens with meals or lunch packages. As one way to support the response in terms of the impact of COVID-19 in the country, specific services for delivery of groceries, medicines, raising public awareness for dealing with COVID-19, etc. have been established in the country.  In 27 municipalities, people have been engaged to deliver services to 1,500 beneficiaries, that is, mainly to the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other persons exposed to social exclusion.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy have provided municipalities with assistance and support to implement the activities aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 by hiring 50 people to do public work for a period of one month.  What is more, efforts have been made to ensure that the persons engaged in public works are Roma people at social risk.

Many of the most vulnerable Roma families who collect scrap metal and/or plastic bottles (PET), or do other similar activities for their livelihood, have been unable to perform them, which generates a state of helplessness, as well as lack of food and basic means of protection.  As an urgent response, they were provided with help in food, disinfectants, and informative materials (leaflets) in Romani language with marked graphically displayed measures for protection against COVID-19.  The aid kits were distributed to 80 families.

With the aim of protecting people with disabilities who need to be accompanied, namely, completely blind people, people using wheelchairs, and people with moderate and severe intellectual disabilities, given that they belong to the group of citizens who are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19, the Government adopted a Conclusion that exempts from work public administration employees who need to be accompanied. This measure was also given as a recommendation to the private sector. See more here & here

Report: COVID-19 and the World of Work: Rapid Assessment of the Employment Impacts and Policy Responses. NORTH MACEDONIA by the ILO in collaboration with EBRD

The ILO Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) established a joint task force to assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the region’s economies. The EBRD/ILO Task Force was invited by the Economic and Social Council in North Macedonia in 2020 to support the development of policy responses when the public health threat developed into a global pandemic with economic consequences. Read more

Report: OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19) COVID-19 crisis response in South East European economies by the OECD

More than 16,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the South East Europe1 (SEE) region as of 14 April. As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow rapidly in SEE, governments have been gradually announcing states of emergency, lockdowns and partial shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus.

More than 16,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the South East Europe1 (SEE) region as of 14 April. As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow rapidly in SEE, governments have been gradually announcing states of emergency, lockdowns and partial shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus. Coronavirus measures resulted in suspended flights, partial border closures, domestic travel restrictions and school shutdowns across the region. Government authorities banned large gatherings and imposed travel restrictions. Serbia and North Macedonia have cancelled their respective general elections scheduled for April. Read more

New Project: Bridging the gap between legislation and practice in the posting of workers

The European Centre started the new POW-Bridge project on the gap between procedures and practices in posting of workers company regulation covering Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, and North Macedonia.

The new two-year project studies the gap between procedures (legal basis) and practices (experiences) in posting rule enactment, identifies challenges and develops and shares effective ways of addressing these challenges for posting companies and implementation agencies. The strategic objectives include: to promote and enhance effective and transparent application of EU rules on posting; to promote a more active participation of employers in the process of evidence-based policy-making; and to establish, consolidate and expand multi-stakeholder cross-border collaboration among EU Member States and candidate countries. The project funded by the EaSI Progress programme is going to develop research, cooperation and dissemination activities in eight countries: six EU Member States and two candidate countries.The European Centre iss Lead Partner and collaborating with six international partners for the implementation of this project. Read more here

Register for the first session of Jour Fixe 2020 on Posting of Workers in Western Balkans

The first session of Jour Fixe 2020: Posting of Workers in Western Balkans by Sonila Danaj

The first session of Jour Fixe 2020: Posting of Workers in Western Balkans by Sonila Danaj

In the first session of the Jour Fixe taking place on 14 January 2020, our colleague Sonila Danaj will discuss findings of the Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe (EEPOW) project. The presentation focuses on the transposition of Posting of Workers Directive in the four candidate countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The analysis draws from research and a needs assessment of their capacities to implement this Directive in terms of six interdependent institutional domains: legal framework, institutional arrangement, inter-agency cooperation, human resources, stakeholder engagement, and public governance. Register here

Integrated Case Management challenges and opportunities in the Western Balkans

Sonila Danaj presented research on the integration of employment and social services in the Western Balkans at the 5th Conference, Faculty of Economics of the University of Belgrade, 21-22 November 2019.

Our colleague Sonila Danaj presented research led by the Head of Work and Welfare Unit Anette Scoppeta on the integration of employment and social services in the Western Balkans at the 5th Conference organized by the LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in South East Europe in collaboration with EBRD Economic and social inclusion in an age of political uncertainty in South East Europe. The event took place at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Belgrade on the 21-22 November 2019. Read about the project.

The final EEPOW national event in Bitola, North Macedonia, on 14 November 2019

The final EEPOW national event was held on 14 November 2019 in Bitola, North Macedonia. The event was organized as a panel discussion moderated by Aleksandra Iloska, PUBLIC, under the title Migration, Labour Mobility and Cross-Border Cooperation with inputs from our colleague Sonila Danaj,

The final EEPOW national event was held on 14 November 2019 in Bitola, North Macedonia. The event was organized as a panel discussion moderated by Aleksandra Iloska, PUBLIC, under the title Migration, Labour Mobility and Cross-Border Cooperation with inputs from our colleague Sonila Danaj, Sanja Cukut Krilić, ZRC SAZU, and Federica Misturelli, CIOFS FP Friuli Venezia Giulia. The panelists discussed the findings of the EEPOW project comparing the experiences of managing posting in EU Member States such as Austria, Slovenia and Italy with that of the candidate countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The North Macedonian case was highlighted through the discussions with the audience. Read more about the project.

EEPOW Final International Conference and SG Meeting, Lubljana, Slovenia

The final international conference of the Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe project brought together all project partners, associated partners and other stakeholders from the eight participating countries on 24 October 2019. Our colleague, Sonila Danaj, presented the project and the deliverables achieved in the two years of project implementation.

The final international conference of the Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe project was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia on the 24 October 2019. The conference that brought together all project partners, associated partners and other stakeholders from the eight participating countries, was opened by Mrs Mojca Vah Jevšnik, project coordinator for the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Our colleague Sonila Danaj presented the project and the deliverables achieved in the two years of project implementation. The keynote speech was delivered by Ms Carita Rammus, European Commission, who spoke on the Posting of workers Enforcement Directive’s implementation in Member States.  The conference continued with presentations of the country reports for the candidate countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia by Mrs. Mimoza Agolli, EMA, Albania, Mrs. Sanja Cukut Krilić, ZRC SAZU, Ms. Aleksandra Iloska, PUBLIC, and Ms. Kristina Djurić, Public Policy Institute, respectively. In the afternoon session, Sonila Danaj, European Centre, presented the Needs Assessment followed by a discussion, the concluding remarks and future opportunities. The next day, the final Steering Group Meeting was also held in Ljubljana, Slovenia with SG members reflecting on the implementation of the project and potential future collaborations for the EEPOW consortium. Read more about the project.

Needs assessment of the posting of Workers Directive in the Western Balkans published

The needs assessment provides a review of the capacities of the four candidate countries of the Western Balkans.

The needs assessment conducted in the frame of the EEPOW Project provides a review of the capacities of the four candidate countries of the Western Balkans, namely Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, to implement the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC). The findings indicate that the Directive has been partially transposed into national law and more needs to be done in terms of structures, human resources, and the engagement of the stakeholders in the process.