Better treatment for new employees!

Kosova still continues to be a “minefield” in terms of securing a job. It is very rare that youngsters manage to find a job without having a relative in some position. Employment without intervention “from above” is very problematic even for low skilled jobs. It is even worse for high skilled jobs.

Preparations to employ people through nepotism are done in a very sophisticated way that is very hard to identify. The competitions are altered, subordinates are instructed for activities to be devised, and then they wait for the appropriate time to act. These "tricks" are more visible in the public sector, but the private sector is not excluded either.

The side effects of these practices are very harmful. It is as if there were “spider web” built within the majority of institutions, which cannot be easily destroyed. Destroying this web seems nearly impossible. As a result, respect of laws and monitoring of their implementation becomes very difficult under these circumstances.

Interns are the ones who are discriminated in the very beginning of their carriers. What is an intern really? An intern, according to the Law on Labor, is a qualified person, who is establishing an employment relationship for the first time. This establishment is made to gain skills for specific tasks.

Sh.S is an intern who completed his master degree in architecture from a private college. He was hired as an intern by a relative who owns a private business, which is registered and operates legally. The owner pays the intern not because the law requires so, but because he is his relative and wants to help him. The owner himself declared that he would never pay other interns. He claimed that there are a lot of cases where interns are employed, are given different tasks for three or more months, and then leave without any compensation. Furthermore, as he stated, owners behave with interns as if they are doing them a favor.

Despite that the Law on Labor is clear in this regard, such cases are widespread in Kosova. The actions of work inspectors, however, remain confusing. Instead of monitoring the situation in the field, they compile reports from their offices. This bureaucratic behavior allows for constant law infringements.

Paragraph 1 of article 16 of the law in question states that the employer can establish a contract with the intern. Paragraph 2 of the same article states that the employed intern, who establishes a contract with the employer enjoys all rights and obligations similar to other employees. Therefore, from the legal aspect interns are, in a way, equal to the other employees.

The law also specifies that employment of interns with a graduate, undergraduate, and high degree can’t last more than one year. Whereas, employment of interns with a high school degree can’t last more than six months.

The Law on Labor states that upon agreement employers can hire interns without providing monetary compensation, while it obliges employers to provide protection and occupational safety. It is not known whether such cases are identified and whether employers use such possibility in the disfavor of interns. Cases show that the possibility for such misuse is high.

F.B. is a graduate of agronomy at the University of Prishtina "Hasan Prishtina". She is from a village in the municipality of Lipjan, and said that had decided for this profession knowing the prospect of the development of agriculture. But, as she witnessed, the university years passed quickly, while employment conditions did not change at all. She tells that she has competed in several competitions for vacancies, but each of the announcement required previous working experience. “How can I have work experience when I recently graduated?”, says F.B., adding that she wanted to work even as an intern, so that in her CV she could add experience.

However, although she contacted many private companies, F.B. failed to succeed. "I wanted to gain professional practice in some private enterprises, but I haven’t found understanding anywhere. Usually they say that they don’t have any possibility to pay and to train me”, she states, while adding that she would have accepted even an unpaid practice if her personal financial situation wasn’t this difficult.

Although it seems insignificant, in fact, such a situation leads to an increase in the feeling of discouragement in new generations. The loss of hope for the future starts here. Therefore, it is vital for the state to mediate in such cases, establish stricter rules for companies and obligate them to accept interns, and naturally support them with funds. This could be achieved by amending the Labour Law, or by issuing bylaws, such as administrative guidelines and regulations. The management of funds dedicated to interns can be a responsibility of municipalities, in order to relieve the burden from the central government.

Emine Klaiqi
Prishtina, June 2015