This year, May 1, International Labor Day, is celebrated in conditions of various crises and major social changes, due to which the preservation of dignified work, as a fundamental principle of social justice, is one of the biggest challenges today, said Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, Brankica Janković. It is necessary to prevent the deterioration of workers’ rights, to ensure equal opportunities for employment, without discrimination on any basis, to ensure protection in case of unemployment, the right to safe and healthy work, as well as the right to adequate earnings, said the Commissioner.

The largest number of complaints from citizens to the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, in all previous years, was filed precisely because of discrimination in the labor market, mostly on the basis of gender, age, health, disability, trade union or political affiliation. Women more often file complaints about unequal treatment in connection with pregnancy and childbirth, especially because of more difficult promotion or transfer to a lower position after maternity leave. Also, young people do not get enough adequate opportunities to work, which is why some leave the country. Commissioner Janković also expresses concern about the practice of considering desirable workers to be persons between the ages of 30 and 45, “pleasant looking”, completely healthy, digitally literate, with experience, without many private obligations, ready to work beyond working hours and job description, which is why discrimination, insecurity, precarious work, and even poverty, are a reality for a considerable number of workers.

Janković also points out that the ever-present automation and use of artificial intelligence will significantly affect the future of work and labor relations, as well as that the speed with which jobs are disappearing all over the world is worrying, which will eventually deepen social differences, create new divisions and lead to the digital exclusion of many members of society. The educational system should provide a better response to these phenomena and the needs of the modern labor market, says Janković.

Better protection of workers, especially in the private sector, strengthening the capacity of inspection services, and more control regarding the application of laws related to work and labor relations, must be among the priorities of public policies, in order to preserve human resources in our labor market, the Commissioner notes. Also, a new labor law is necessary, harmonized with European and International Labor Organization standards, which will cover all important segments of work in a systematic way, instead of a fragmented approach to labor legislation that can lead to the loss or reduction of the achieved levels of labor rights, concludes Janković.

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