Discrimination

My Labour,
My Rights

Discrimination

The Law on Labour Relations in the Republic of North Macedonia contains several provisions that systematically regulate protection against discrimination of workers (i.e. candidates for employment and employees). Discrimination is defined as ‘placing into unequal position’ employment candidates or workers,  and employers are prohibited from discriminating against them, on grounds of race or ethnic background, skin colour, sex, age, health or disability, religious, political and other conviction, membership into trade unions, national or social background, family status, financial standing, sexual orientation or other personal circumstances. The law prohibits all forms of discrimination against female workers on grounds of ‘pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood of the female worker’ regardless of the duration of the employment contract (fixed-term or permanent).

Discrimination is prohibited in all stages of employment, and with regards to establishing employment (advertising, defining employment requirements, selection of candidates), duration of employment (enjoying various rights and obligations) and termination of employment.

Both women and men must be provided with equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment.

In cases of discrimination, the employment candidate or the worker is entitled to damages pursuant to the Law on Obligations. Burden of proof in case of disputes is placed on the employer. 

The Law on Labour Relations regulates protection of workers against several different types of discrimination such as direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and psychological harassment (mobbing).

Direct discrimination is defined as any treatment that is subject to any of the grounds of discrimination by which a person had been treated, is treated, or could be treated less favourably than other persons in a comparable situation. Direct discrimination encompasses three basic and mutually related elements. Firstly, a worker should be treated less favourably than other persons in a similar situation; secondly, there should be certain discrimination grounds, and thirdly, there should be cause and effect relation between the discriminatory ground and the less favourable treatment of a worker.

Indirect discrimination exists when a certain seemingly neutral provision, criterion or practice places or could place a candidate for employment or a worker into a less favourable position in comparison to other persons, due to a certain quality, status or belief  (discrimination grounds) they hold.  Indirect discrimination, similarly to direct discrimination, also encompasses three constitutive elements.

 Firstly there should be a seemingly neutral provision, criterion or practice (which may not be legally prohibited, but in essence  has discriminative consequences for a given group of individuals); secondly, it should have a disproportionately negative effect over a certain group of individuals who are affected by the same discrimination ground; and thirdly there should be comparison to other individuals in a similar situation who are not affected by the mentioned discrimination ground.

The Law on Labour Relations includes exceptions to the discrimination prohibition . Exceptions are defined as distinction, exclusion or preference made in respect of a particular job, where the nature of the job is such, or the work is undertaken under such conditions, that the characteristics related to personal characteristics (discrimination grounds) of workers amount to a genuine or decisive requirement for performance of the work, provided there is a justifiable cause and the requirement is reasonable. In fact, exceptions to discrimination imply there is ‘proportionality’ between the defined requirement (distinction, exclusion or preference made) and the goal one wants to achieve by such a requirement.

All measures defined by the Law on Labour Relations or other legislation, collective agreement or employment contract that relate to special protection and assistance to certain categories of workers (workers under the age of 18, persons with disabilities, older workers, pregnant women and women exercising some of the maternity protection rights, and similar categories of workers) shall be considered exceptions to the discrimination prohibition as well.

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The Labour Rights Campaign is implemented
by the Economic and Social Council supported by Strengthening Social Dialogue.

The project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the International Labour Organization

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The content is sole responsibility of the Strengthening the Social Dialogue Project
and does not necessarily reflect the positions of the European Union.

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The Labour Rights Campaign is implemented
by the Economic and Social Council supported by Strengthening Social Dialogue.

The project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the International Labour Organization

partners1

The content is sole responsibility of the Strengthening the Social Dialogue Project
and does not necessarily reflect the positions of the European Union.