Press Release: Enable an equal treatment of employees with fixed-term contracts

In the light of the media allegations that the Ministry of Interior has resolved the status of employees with fixed-term contracts by enabling them to apply for internal announcements, the Institute Alternative warns that such practice could be discriminatory.

A number of civil servants in other state bodies are discriminated in that manner, who have had fixed-term contracts for years and were not given the opportunity to define their work status like their colleagues from the Ministry of Interior (MoI).

Namely, according to the Information of the Government from 2013 (in Montenegrin only) and the media allegations, 262 officials with fixed-term contracts in the MoI were able to obtain employment status by applying to an internal announcement.

IA has in 2013 pointed out that the legal employment status of officials with fixed-term contract should have been solved adequately before the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees had entered into force in January the same year. This makes the security of their job positions significantly jeopardized, particularly having in mind that the official opinion of competent institutions is that the state administration employees are not allowed an automatic transformation of fixed-term contract to a non-fixed term contract.

However, if the allegations on employment at the MoI based on internal announcement are true, it represents an obvious example of a tendency to skilfully manoeuvre laws and competent institutions, without trying to find a systemic solution through amendments that would be equally implemented for all.

In the Monitoring Report on Recruitment and Promotion in State Authorities in 2014, we have also warned about the possibility that the previously employed fixed-term workers were being illegally favoured during employment procedures.

On the other hand, a question of protection of rights of these civil servants should be raised. According to IA findings, certain civil servants have worked for more than 15 years based on a fixed-term contract, but did not get an opportunity to get a permanent contract, but have in fact been left without a job upon the vacancy announcement for their job position.

We would like to use this opportunity and appeal to the competent institutions, primarily the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, to question the allegations on determining the status of fixed-term workers in the state administration from the aspect of protection from discrimination. We would also like to remind that the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination defines discrimination as any unjustified, de jure or de facto, direct or indirect distinction or unequal treatment of a person or a group of persons in comparison to other persons.

Milena MILOŠEVIĆ

Public Policy Researcher

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