Even in regular circumstances, one of the most important obligations of every employer is to provide conditions for healthy and safe work. This obligation is prescribed by the Labor Law, as well as the special regulation – the Law on Occupational Health and Safety (hereinafter: LOHS). With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, complying with the employer’s basic obligations has been a real challenge.
During the state of emergency in Serbia, the Decree on Organization of Work of Employers During the State of Emergency was passed, which recommends all employers organize work from home. However, by their nature, that is not possible in every type of work, in those situations the employers were required to implement additional necessary measures in order to protect the health of their employees. In our blog COVID-19 and Employers: Didn’t Like Work From Home? Better Start… we wrote about the organization of work if the work from home is not an option for you.
In this blog, we will look at the specific measures that need to be implemented given the duration of the pandemic, as well as the consequences that may occur if you fail to execute them.
Primarily, you have an obligation to provide your employees with adequate means of work/resources, as well as the resources and equipment for personal protection. 
What that specifically means – depends on the situation. For example, during a state of emergency, this included the obligation of the employer to provide employees with protective equipment in the form of medical masks and examination gloves, hand sanitizers and premises disinfectants, warm water, and regular maintenance and ventilation of the premises, but also to take all other measures to reduce risks of spreading the infection.
It shall be emphasized that the employer is obliged to ensure that the implementation of the health protection measures at work does not cause any financial expenses to the employees and does not affect their material and social position at work and related to work. 
Therefore, you cannot obligate your employees to obtain the protective equipment on their own.
If there is a risk of infection among multiple employees, you are in a legal obligation to hinder the spread of the virus, by organizing remote work or shift work, in order to reduce the number of employees on the business premises of the employer. If this kind of work organization is not possible in your case, you are obliged to suspend the work.
It should also be noted that, as an employer, you have a duty to stop every work that may represent a potential danger to your employee’s life or health. So, if you cannot compel with that duty, the only remaining possibility for you is to suspend the work.
In case there are no implemented such safety measures as described, an employee has the indisputable right to refuse to work, and it would be unlawful to terminate the employment act on that basis.
If you fail to implement all the necessary work protection measures and thus breach the provisions of the LOHS, you are at risk of facing the penalties in the amount of RSD 800,000 up to RSD 1,000,000 – for a legal entity, RSD 400,000 up to RSD 500,000 for an entrepreneur, or from RSD 40,000 up to RSD 50,000 for a director, i.e. another representative of the employer.