Opinions on overtime work are quite divided and go to two complete extremes. While some consider it completely unnecessary, because overtime work may be interpreted as not being able to complete the work tasks on time, others see it as an opportunity to achieve additional work performance, better work results, and, finally, better earnings.
There are different opinions on what constitutes overtime work, so we would start with the definition of overtime work under the Labor Law. According to it, overtime work is the work that lasts longer than prescribed due to increased workload caused by some sudden, unpredictable circumstances. On the other hand, overtime work is not staying at work longer than the prescribed working hours in order for the employee to complete a job that the employee did not finish during the day due to the inefficient organization of work tasks.
According to the Serbian Labor Law, in regular circumstances, full-time work is 40 hours per week. An employer may anticipate that the full-time work is less than 40 hours per week, but not less than 36 hours per week. This way, full-time employees, from 36 hours per week to 40 hours per week, depending on how their employer envisioned, are completely equal in terms of exercising their employment-related rights.
As a rule, the working week lasts 5 days, 8 hours per day. Like in most European countries, our legislator has opted for the traditional schedule of working hours as well. The law uses the phrase “as a rule” precisely because the employer whose work is performed in shifts, at night, or when the nature of work and organization of work requires it – it is allowed to organize the work week and working hours differently. In industries such as IT, this exception, that working hours can be organized differently from traditional ones, is becoming the rule. Flexible work hours are also one of the possibilities that give employees more freedom.
For the so-called, high-risk jobs, the employer may shorten the working hours of their employees, up to a maximum of 10 hours per week, if the work performed by an employee is particularly difficult, strenuous, and harmful to health, where, besides the implemented appropriate measures of safety and protection of life and health at work, means and equipment for personal protection at work, there is an increasingly harmful effect on the health of the employee.
As an exception from the regular circumstances in which the employee performs their work duties during full-time work, our Labor Law recognizes the concept of overtime work, which can be introduced in strictly prescribed circumstances, under precisely determined conditions, can last only a certain time, and imposes additional obligations to the employer.