Labour inspection country profile: Montenegro

Labour Inspection Country Profile

Montenegro
July 2009

Name of institution that manage work issues

Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Welfare (MHLSW) (http://www.gov.me/eng/minzdr/)

Department(s) in charge of Labour Inspection

The Ministry is divided into sectors. The sector of Labour Relations is headed by the Deputy Minister and includes three departments at the same level: Department for Labour Relations, Department for 1st Instance Offence Procedures and Department for Labour and OSH Inspection. The Labour Inspectorate is located in the Department of Labour and OSH Inspection, and comprises of two different inspection units at the same level: Labour Relations Inspection and OSH Inspection. Each Inspection unit has a chief - Labour Relations Chief Inspector and OSH Chief Inspector that are proposed by the Minister and appointed by the Government. The sector of Health Protection has a Department for Health and Sanitary Inspection Affairs which is where the Health and Sanitary Inspectorate is located. It is headed by the Chief Health and Sanitary Inspector.

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for state and local administration according to the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees. The Ministry of Energy has mining inspectors who implement the Law on Mining. There are also inspectors for radiation protection and nuclear safety protection.

Under the MHSLW, there is an Institute for Public Health that deals with activities related with public health and prevention, but with no specific competencies relating to occupational medicine, diseases or injuries. There are also some primary health care centres that carry out workers’ medical examinations periodically, as well as some medical investigation into occupational diseases.

Law that covers organization and functional composition

Labour Law (No. 49 of 2008)

Law on OSH (No. 79 of 2004)

Law on Labour Inspection (No. 79 of 2008)

Scope of labour inspection

Labour Relations Inspection covers the implementation of standards on labour relations, employment and social insurance. State and local administration is excluded from the scope of labour inspection. OSH Inspection covers the field of occupational safety and health in all sectors, including state and local administrations, but excluding the mining industry. Both prison work and the self-employed are covered by the Labour Inspectorate. Health and Sanitary Inspection covers the prevention of contagious diseases, control of potable water, food safety, tobacco, tourist and catering facilities. Sanitary Inspectors do not have responsibilities in occupational health, even though they have conducted joint visits with labour relations inspectors, OSH inspectors and tax inspectors in private health institutions. All three units of inspectors share the facilities in most of the regional offices.

Local divisions

There are 8 regional offices for the Labour Relations Inspection Unit, the OSH Inspection Unit and the Health and Sanitary Inspection Unit. They are located in Podgorica, Niksic, Bijelo Polje, Bar, Herceg Novi, Budva, Plevlja and Berane, most of them covering several municipalities. The units share offices and most of the facilities.

Programming and communication

There are no regional directors or chiefs, allowing inspectors in regional units to act with autonomy, just reporting to the chiefs of their respective units. There are serious doubts about the existence of a central labour inspection authority. Labour Relations and OSH Inspectors often carry out joint visits (20% of the total visits in Podgorica, and 60% of the total visits in Bar), particularly to building and tourist sites.

Current reforms

Another Department for OSH is in the process of being created, this department will focus on the provision of technical advice.

Permanency of inspectors

Employment with the state administration is not limited by time, but inspectors are re-elected every 4 years following an evaluation of their skills. Failure to pass the evaluation leads to dismissal. This re-election system is only for labour inspectors and not for any other civil servant bodies. The average salary for inspectors is 400€ per month. There are no annual adjustments to the increase in cost of living. The low salary may be why a considerable number of labour relation inspectors abandon their jobs.

Selection process

The vacancy must be filled internally first with existing staff in the Ministry or state administration. If the position remains vacant, then the vacancy is published in newspapers and the Human Resources Management Agency (HRMA) for public competition with a deadline of 8-15 days. The HRMA comes up with a list of qualifying candidates who must then go through two stages of elimination by a Commission. Members of the Commission are appointed by the HRMA, one of which is from the Ministry and may be an inspector. The tests are designed by the Ministry and there are separate ones for labour relations and OSH inspectors. The short list of candidates with the highest scores is then forwarded to the Minister who makes the final decision. The HRMA has a general training plan for all civil servants, but there is no specific inspection-related training. New recruits are mentored by senior inspectors for the first two months.

Background required

Inspectors should be citizens of Montenegro, of legal age, in good health, possess the necessary qualifications, wit no criminal record, completion of the professional exam for work in a state administration and a minimum of 4 years of experience. Foreign nationals or stateless persons may also be employed. For labour relations inspectors, they mostly possess a law degree with on average 4 years of professional experience and successfully passing the professional exam. For OSH inspectors, they are graduate engineers with on average 4 years of professional experience and successfully passing the professional exam. Inspectors are within the first grade of civil servants and are divided into 4 levels: Chief Inspector, Inspector I, Inspector II, Inspector III, with each level requiring a university degree and a minimum of 8 years, 5 years, 3 years and 1 year experience respectively. There is little difference in function between each level, however only OSH inspectors with the title I are allowed to carry out investigation of accidents and diseases. The law stipulates that inspectors can be promoted to a higher level, however this seldom occurs in practice due the small salary increment from one level to another and the low incentive that is associated with it.

Types of visits

Inspectors visit according to the yearly or monthly plan, or to follow up on complaints or by self-initiative. Complain visits take priority and represent around 10% of the total visits. The average number of monthly visits is 20-25 for OSH inspectors and 30-35 for labour relations inspectors. Visits are poorly prepared because of lack of registers and data. Inspectors must notify a responsible person before starting the inspection, unless prior notification affects the inspection outcome. Inspectors must show identification to the authorized personnel on the premises. However the law does not contain provisions on the notification of worker groups. At the end of the visit, all that are present on the employer’s side must read the inspector’s minutes. They are permitted to add their remarks. The minutes are then signed by both parties.

Role of preventive measures

The role of preventive measures is still fairly weak. Inspectors do not use any manual of procedures or checklists during their visits. The OSH law outlines the preventive measures, including designing safety at work, in technological processes, through personal safety means and equipment, through initial and periodical inspections, regulations and through upbringing and education.

Programming

The Chief Inspector of each unit develops a monthly plan based on the annual plan but there is little coordination between the two units. Large entities are prioritized, as they cover a greater number of workers. An annual report is published based on the monthly reports. The annual reports are not published, but are disseminated to the social partners. Each inspector files monthly reports to his/her chief.

There is no national registry system for enterprises. Some public administrations and institutions (e.g. taxation inspection, local governments) have their own computerized systems, however these are not accessible by inspectors. Inspection visits are recorded in individual notebooks and are not shared at the territorial level and are mainly used for monthly reporting purposes. Files received at the national level are neither archived nor classified. The sanitary inspection unit has been designing a new registry system.

The Health Insurance Fund and the Pension and Invalidity Insurance Fund have a legal commitment to submit data on injuries at work, occupational diseases, diseases incurred by work in the previous year to MHLSW. However only 2 of the 21 municipalities submitted reliable data to the Ministry in 2006.

In case of a fatal, collective or serious injury, the OSH Inspector is required to conduct investigations on the spot. When the necessary information is gathered, the Inspector has to write a report on whether the prescribed OSH measures have, or have not been implemented. This report is then submitted to the relevant courts. The court may call the OSH inspector to witness before court at the hearing. Employers are duty-bound to make reports to the OSH Inspector and Inspectorate of injury 24 hours after learning of it. The Inspector is not entitled to investigate the accident if the employer has not reported it within the deadline as specified in the law. Even though there is no formal method of communicating between departments, inspectorates usually inform each other of situations that may lead to infractions through phone or through mail. The police may be called in case of obstruction, but this function is seldom utilized.

Article 172 of the Labour Law sets pecuniary fines for employers at ten to three hundred times the minimum wage; for an individual acting on behalf of an employer, the fines are set at one half to twenty times the minimum wage; for an employer-entrepreneur, the fines are set at ten to two hundred times the minimum wage. Article 173 outlines on-the-spot pecuniary fines to be three times the minimum wage. These penalties are imposed by the labour relations inspector. Article 46 of the OSH Law sets financial penalties of ten to three hundred times minimum wage to employers; one half to twenty times the minimum wage for persons acting on behalf of the employer; and in Article 47 sets the penalty to employees at one half to twenty times minimum wage. Article 10 of the Law on Labour Inspection sets financial penalties of fifty times to two hundred times minimum wage for the employer or entrepreneur.

In most cases, sanctions are paid on the spot. Employers are given 3 days to pay the fine, with no opportunity to appeal. In cases where inspectors ask employers to remedy the situation or if employers wish to appeal the sanction, the process will be directed to the First Instance Offences Office. In the case of an appeal, the parties are called in for a hearing within 8 days at the First Instance Administrative Court. The whole process must be completed within 2 years, right now most cases are resolved within 15 days. The appeal of a decision can be brought to the National Administrative Minor Offences Court for a final decision. If the employer fails to remedy the situation by the 7 day deadline, the inspector writes a second request and the employer is given 7 days to a month to comply. The employers are required to inform the inspector in writing three days before the expiration of the deadline on the measures they have taken. If the employer still fails to remedy the situation, the inspector will open an administrative process that is followed up by the taxation authority to examine whether the payment can be extracted from there. In cases of gross violation, the inspector may temporarily suspend work until the situation has been remedied. At the moment, OSH inspectors lack the authority to fine employers on the spot.

The tripartite Social Council (SC) was established by the Law on Social Council (no. 16 of 2007). It is in charge of labour affairs with the aim of conducting dialogue on issues that will improve the economic and social positions of employees and employers. It is also expected to encourage peaceful settlement of collective labour disputes. Its first meeting was held in July 2008, but the first meeting on social issues has yet to take place. The OSH Law has provisions for Workers’ Councils that are entitled to give its opinion on OSH laws, to demand its implementation, to request inspections in the absence of OSH measures, to be present during inspections, to be acquainted with the records, and in the case of a serious work injury, to demand that the employer file a report on the incident.

The Montenegrin Employers’ Federation (MEF/UPCG) is the only employers’ organization in Montenegro and was established in 2002. The Confederation of Trade Unions in Montenegro (CTUM/SSSCG) is a legal representative of workers, including private sector and public administrations. It covers 80% of the labour force. The Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro (UFTUM/USSCG) is another employee representative.

Montenegro ratified Convention No. 81, 129 and 155 in 2006. The first reports for the relevant Conventions are still outstanding. It has not ratified Convention No. 150.