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Fair Wear received a complaint against Albiro's supplier in North Macedonia. The complaint reported that the factory is not respecting the newly adopted government measures related to COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Macedonian government adopted the following measures:
- Employees in all institutions and in the private sector who have a minor child up to 10 years of age, who currently require home care, one parent is released from work and work activities and the absence during this period need to be recorded as justified by the employer. This conclusion also applies to single parents. During this period of absenteeism, the employers are obligated to pay a salary that is stipulated in the employment contract, but never less than the legal minimum wage of MKD 14,500.
- This measure also applies for people with chronic health issues: People with chronic health issues, as well pregnant workers and elderly employees over the age of 65 are requested to stay at home. During their time away from work, the employer is obligated to pay the salary as stipulated in the employment contract but never less than the legal minimum wage of MKD 14,500.
It has been brought to light that during the course of the last two months, since these measures were put in place, the workers who fall under these measures have been paid below the legal minimum wage. Indeed, the workers the measures apply to have only been receiving MKD 9,000 per month. According to the government measures, the factory is obligated to pay the full salary or at least the legal minimum wage.
Fair Wear informed Albiro immediately after the complaint was submitted and Albiro provided feedback from the factory in a timely manner. The factory denied that there were any wages issues at the factory, as per the latest factory report received from Labour inspection.
Fair Wear considers this answer as not sufficient to make any conclusion, so further steps in investigation will be taken. In addition, more calls from workers were received in the mean time. These workers stated that workers were required to come to work despite their right to stay at home. Workers alerted that it is their right to be absent from work and receive a full salary while they are using government measures for prevention of COVID-19.
The further investigation steps will include an interview with factory management, document inspection and off-site worker interviews.