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Reimbursement of transportation costs to the employee

According to the Labor Law, the employee has right to the reimbursement of costs for his arrival and departure from work, in the amount of the price of a transport ticket in public transport, in case that the employer has not provided his own transport for employees who work for him, all at his own expense.
Reimbursement of departure and arrival costs must be in accordance with the general act of the employer and the employment contract.

Who is entitled to seek reimbursement of transportation costs?

All employees who have a real cost of transportation to and from work (ie when the employer has not provided his own transportation for them) are entitled to seek reimbursement of transportation costs because it is the cost of hiring an employee which must be paid by the employer.

If the employee does not actually work (he is on sick leave or is absent from work for other reasons), he is not allowed to ask for compensation for these costs because they could not have been incurred.

Is the employee allowed to seek reimbursement of transportation costs if he lives close to the place of work?

Reimbursement of costs is the reimbursement of actual costs, if costs that are actually incurred. In cases where the employee lives close to the place of work and has no actual transportation costs of arrival and departure from work he is not entitled to reimbursement of transportation costs.

The Labor Law and other acts do not specify these cases, but opinion of courts is that an employee is not entitled to reimbursement of transportation costs if his place of living is such that he objectively does not need to use some kind of transportation in order to get to work. Employers usually determine in a general act what is considered “close to the place of work” in such cases.

In practice, distance in this sense is defined by the number of public transport stops (eg one or two bus stops) or by the actual distance (eg 500 meters or one kilometer).

Is a person engaged in temporary and occasional jobs entitled to reimbursement of transportation costs?

A person who is engaged in performing temporary and occasional jobs is not an employee in a way that person who signed the employment contract is. Therefore, in terms of labor law, unlike employee, he is not entitled to seek a reimbursement of transportation costs.

Employer is allowed to predict in the contract that a person whose engagement is not based on an employment contract will also be entitled to seek reimbursement of transportation costs.

How does the relocation of an employee during employment affect the reimbursement of transportation costs?

The amount that the employer must pay to the employee in the name of the compensation for transportation costs is determined at the moment of conclusion of the employment contract. If during the duration of the employment contract the employee changes the place of his residence and because of that the cost of transportation increases, the employer has no obligation to pay the employee the difference between that costs and agreed ones.

In such situations, the Law protects the employer and leaves the option that the above said difference must be paid by the employer to the employee only in case that he agreed to it after the employee moved.

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Amount of compensation for transportation costs

The manner in which the employee travels from the place of residence to the job does not affect the determination of the amount of transportation costs (Verdict of the Court of Appeals in Nish – Gž1 No. 2198/2018). The law is clear and prescribes that the employee is entitled to compensation in the amount of the price of public transport, regardless of whether he used a taxi, his own vehicle or another way of transportation. Of course, the employer can always give the employee greater rights than those that belong to him by the law.

In practice, this means that the employer can, by a general act (Rulebook on compensation of transport costs) or by the employment contract, predict the obligation to pay to the employee costs that are higher than the price of a transport ticket in public city transport.

In this case, the employee may be paid for the cost of transportation or fuel for the use of his own vehicle in a fixed monthly amount or for a certain amount of fuel that is consumed.

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What happens if the employer does not pay compensation for transportation costs?

Having in mind that this compensation belongs to the employee on the basis of the law, general act of the employer or employment contract, as well as that this obligation is not conditioned by a special request of the employee, if the employer does not pay compensation, the employee can file a lawsuit in the basic court. In that way, he starts a civil procedure so that the court can oblige the employer to pay these costs to him.

In these proceedings, our recommendation for the employee is to hire a lawyer for the purpose of writing the lawsuit and representation his interests before the court in the procedure of seeking transportation costs.

In a labor dispute, the employee proves his right to reimbursement by an employment contract, employer’s acts such as the rulebook on determining reimbursement of transportation costs, as well as a certificate from the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia on the movement of the place of residence and evidence that he used transportation, all in order to make possible to the court to determine that the employee had real transportation costs. Of course, these are just some examples of evidence which court can use in order to determine possible disputable facts between the plaintiff and the defendant in a labor dispute.

The statute of limitations for a lawsuit in this kind of proceedings is 3 years from the moment of occurrence of each individual financial obligation of the employer. If the employee sues the current or former employer for non-payment of transportation costs after the expiration of this period, the court would reject such a claim of the employee, only if the employer, at any time until the conclusion of the main hearing, raises an objection of statute of limitations.

For all further questions regarding to this topic, or any other questions relating to labor and employment law, feel free to contact our law firm.

Date: 18.05.2020.

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