Principal Legal opinion of the Supreme Court

On July 11, 2023, the Supreme Court of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted a principled legal opinion according to which “The use of days off due to work longer than full-time is considered absence from work.” The principled legal opinion was adopted on the question of whether the used days off / free hours for previously worked but unpaid overtime hours (which are used in accordance with the law and collective agreement), is considered absence from work in the sense of absences determined for more than 21 days in accordance with Article 117 paragraph 4 of the Law on Labor Relations, which issue is of importance for ensuring the uniform application of the said law by the courts.

According to the rationale of the Supreme Court, according to Article 112 paragraph 1 and 2 of the Law on Labor Relations (1) The employee has the right to salary compensation for the entire time of absence in the cases and for the duration determined by law, as well as in the cases when he does not work from reasons on the side of the employer. (2) The employer is obliged to pay compensation to the salary in cases of absence from work due to use of annual leave, paid extraordinary leave, retraining, legally defined holidays and days off from work and in cases when the employee does not work for external reasons of the employer. Pursuant to Article 117 paragraph 4 of the ZRO, for an employee who has worked more than 150 hours longer than full-time, and has not been absent for more than 21 days during the year with the same employer, in which the days of annual leave used are not taken into account, the employer is obliged to paid him in addition to the salary supplement and a bonus in the amount of one average salary of the republic.

For that reason, the Supreme Court considers that the use of free working days for work longer than working hours indisputably results from the fact that it constitutes a justified absence from work.

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