ILEJ & PARTNERS, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners

Forums For Adjudicating Employment Disputes

Municipal civil courts have the jurisdiction for most of the claims relating to employment. There is only one specialized Labour Court on a municipal level, and it handles labour law disputes in Zagreb metropolitan area. Jurisdiction regarding the lawfulness of strikes and lockout is given to the county courts.

The Main Sources Of Employment Law

In Croatia the main source of employment law is the Employment Act which is accompanied by Work Safety Act, Labour Market Act and various acts regarding social welfare of the employees (Pension Insurance Act, Compulsory Health Insurance Act, etc.), European Law (such as Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I)), Collective Agreements, Employment Rulebook, individual Employment Agreements, and decisions. As for the employee, principle is that if a certain right is regulated differently in different sources (i.e., in Employment Act and in individual employment agreement), the regulation which is the most favourable for the employee will be applied.

National Law And Employees Working For Foreign Companies

A national law is applicable if the parties of an employment agreement choose Croatian law or in other cases when it is applicable by law. If the parties choose foreign law as applicable, that law would apply, as long as it is not depriving the employee of the protection afforded to him/her by provisions that cannot be derogated from by an agreement under the law that would have been applicable (employee habitually carries out work, place of business in which the employee was engaged is situated) in case that the applicable law was not chosen.

National Law And Employees Of National Companies Working In Another Jurisdiction

National law would be applicable when an employee is working in another jurisdiction, if the parties of the employment agreement chose Croatian law as the applicable law. If there was no choice of law, Croatian law could be applied as place of business where the employee was engaged, if the applicable law could not be determined by a place of habitual carrying of work.

Data privacy

The employer is allowed to process certain personal data, in connection to employment, of the employees. General principles of the GDPR apply.

Legal Requirements As To The Form Of Agreement

Agreements should be concluded in writing, however if concluded orally they will not be found null and void. If an agreement is oral, an employer is obligated to issue a written confirmation of the agreement before the beginning of work. It is possible to electronically sign an agreement by using a qualified electronic signature for it to be considered a validly executed employment agreement.

Mandatory Requirements
  • Trial Period
  • Trial Periods can be agreed upon when concluding an employment agreement, however, the trial period cannot be longer than six months. If an employee fails to comply with the requirements for the specific workplace, that qualifies as justified grounds for termination of the employment agreement. Notice period, in this case, is at least seven days.

  • Hours Of Work
  • Full-time working hours cannot be longer than 40 hours per week. Unless otherwise prescribed by the employment contract, collective agreement, or settlement agreement concluded between works council and the employer or by employment agreement it is deemed to be 40 hours per week. Everything above full-time working hours is overtime. The employee can with the written consent of the employer have an additional employment agreement with another employer for the maximum of additional eight hours per week, up to 180 hours per annum.

  • Special Rules For Part-time Work
  • Part-time work is considered to be everything below full-time working hours, however, the employee cannot be working for several employers for more than 40 hours per week. When entering into an agreement with each employer the employee shall notify the employer about his/her other current part-time employment agreements. If for acquiring certain rights from an employment agreement previous length of the employment is of importance, then the periods of part-time work for the same employer will be deemed as working full time. The earnings and other material rights of the employee will be determined and paid in proportion to the agreed working hours unless otherwise regulated by a collective agreement, employment rulebook, or employment agreement. The employer shall consider the request of an employee to work part-time or full-time if this possibility exists for the employer’s other employees. A part-time employee must have the same working conditions as a full-time employee in a comparable situation. The employer shall provide training and education to part-time employees under the same condition as full-time employees.

    Hours of work shall be shortened due to the impossibility to protect the employees, even with all the safety and protective measures, from harmful effects in proportion to harmful effects of working conditions to the health and working capacity of the employee. This type of job and working hours are determined by special regulations. The employee who is working on one of these jobs cannot be working these jobs for longer hours than specified by the regulation and cannot be working for several employers. This part-time work will be equal to full-time work when actualising the employees’ rights from employment or in connection to employment.

  • Earnings
  • The earnings can be determined by all the sources of employment law, if the pay has not been determined, the employer shall pay to the employee the appropriate earnings. Appropriate earnings are the amount that is usually paid for equal work, or if that cannot be estimated then the earning will be declared by the court based on the circumstances of each case.

  • Holidays/Rest Periods
  • Employees have to have at least four weeks of paid annual leave, in case that the employee has not been working the whole year he/she has the right to pro-rata leave.

    The rest period of 30 minutes is granted to every employee working at least six hours a day. Daily rest is at least 12 hours of continuous rest in a 24-hour period. Weekly rest is continuous 24 hours each week.

  • Minimum/Maximum Age
  • The minimum age for entering an employment is 15. If the person is attending obligatory elementary education and is older than 15 and younger than 18 then that person cannot be employed. Maximum age is not prescribed by law, however according to Employment Market Act an unemployed person is a person from 15 till 65 years of age.

  • Illness/Disability
  • In case of temporary incapacity for work, the employee will notify the employer as soon as possible and no later than three days deliver a certificate from the doctor regarding his/her incapacity and expected duration. There is a ban on terminating the employment in case of temporary incapacity due to work-related injury or professional illness during healing or recovery. The employee who has been temporary incapacitated for work has the right to be reinstalled on the jobs he/she was performing before the injury, business related illness or illness, if those are not available, the employer shall offer an employment agreement with similar jobs.

  • Location Of Work/Mobility
  • The location of work is a mandatory term for each employment agreement. The employer has the right to determine closely the place of work, bearing in mind the rights and dignity of the employee and the employer has to provide appropriate working conditions. There is a special type of employment agreements which should be applied when the employee is not working from the business premises of the employer.

  • Pension Plans
  • There are mandatory pension funds in which the employer has to allocate a certain part of each monthly salary for each employer. This amount is taken out of the gross income amount. There are additional voluntary pension funds in which the employee alone or in agreement with the employer can invest.

  • Parental Rights (Pregnancy/ Maternity/ Paternity/ Adoption)
  • Pregnancy leave along with maternity leave obligatory (28 days before the expected birth and 70 days after the child is born, continuously) and voluntary leave can last for 28 days before the expected childbirth and until the child is 6 months of age. Paternity and maternity leave can be used after the child has turned 6 months of age and can be used until the child is 8 years old, this leave is to be used by both parents in same shares. Adoption leave is granted for 6 months if the adopted child is under 18 years of age. If twins or more children are adopted at the same time, or by adoption the child is the third child in the family or if a single adoptee or adopted child has special needs, this leave is prolonged for an additional 60 days.

    The employer cannot refuse to employ a woman due to pregnancy. Furthermore, pregnant women, women who have given birth and women who are breastfeeding cannot be offered a changed employment agreement with less favourable conditions. During pregnancy, maternity, paternity, and adoption leave, part-time work due to intensive care of the child, pregnancy leave, leave of the mother who is breastfeeding, and leave or part-time work due to intensive care of a child with special needs, within 15 days since the termination of pregnancy or using the mentioned rights, the employer cannot terminate the employment.

  • Compulsory Terms
  • Employment agreements or a written confirmation on employment agreement has to have data for identification of the contracting parties, place of work or a remark that the work will be executed in different places, details of the type of work, or shortlist or description of work; beginning date of work, expected duration of employment, duration of annual leave or description on how it will be determined, notice periods, basic salary and schedule of payments, duration of working day or week. For certain specific types of employment agreements, there are special terms that need to be included.

  • Non-Compulsory Terms
  • The parties of an employment agreement can agree to any other terms. If the agreed terms are less favourable, then the ones provided by other sources of employment law will be applied.

Types Of Agreement

Employment agreements can be entered into as a fixed-term agreement and for an indefinite period. Except for a management agreement which cannot be entered into as a fixed-term agreement.


There is an Act on the Protection of Unpublished Information with Market Value and Data confidentiality Act, whose provisions can be applied. Furthermore, based on Employment Act, inventions have to be kept as a business secret and cannot be shared with a third person without the employers’ approval. Further confidentiality and secrecy provisions can be agreed.

Ownership of Inventions/Other Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

The employee is obligated to inform their employer regarding an invention made at work or in connection with work. This invention must be kept as a business secret. The invention belongs to the employer, and the employee has the right to a reward as prescribed by a collective agreement, employment agreement, or special agreement. If a reward has not been prescribed or agreed, the court will decide on the appropriate reward. If the invention is in connection with the employers’ business and is not accomplished at work or in connection to work, the employee is obligated to notify the employer and offer the transfer of rights to this invention. The employer must react to the offer within one month. On this transfer of rights, pre-emption right rules will be applied. The same applies to technical developments if used by the employer. All the inventions and technical developments of the appointed workers belong to the beneficiary of the appointed workers, and appointed workers have the right to a reward as well.

Pre-Employment Considerations

There is no statutory obligation to perform certain pre-employment considerations. However, when choosing a future employee, the employer cannot ask for employee data which is not in direct correlation with the employment relationship, and the potential employee is not obliged to answer these questions.

Hiring Non-Nationals

When hiring citizens of the European Economic Area there are no limitations except for the need to register a temporary stay in the case that the employee is residing in Croatia for longer than three months. However, when hiring third-country national (non-EEA citizens) there is a need to obtain a residence and work permit or a certificate on registered work (the certificate is issued only for descried work and one employer). Before filing a request for residence and work permit the employer has to request a test of the employment market to establish whether this employee is needed in the market. There is a list of jobs for which the mentioned test is not needed. Employees can work without residence and work permit and certificate if they have a regulated temporary stay in Croatia based on different grounds, and/or an EU blue card.


Hiring Specified Categories Of Individuals

An employer who has more than 20 employees has to employ, with the appropriate workplace and work conditions, a certain number of persons with disabilities. Special provisions are set out protecting special groups of employees, as previously mentioned i.e. pregnant women.

Outsourcing And/Or Sub-Contracting/Temporary Agency Work

Outsourcing and Sub-contracting are not regulated by law.

The temporary employment of employees can be done only with a written agreement between the agency for temporary employment and the employee. Certain terms of these agreements are prescribed by law (number of workers, place of work, work which will be conducted, way of payment, and calculation).

Changes To The Contract

Changes to a contract are usually conditioned with mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. When the conditions of work are changing the employer has to terminate the contract and offer to the employee a new employment contract, or an annex to the existing employment agreement can be signed. This offer has to be accepted by the employee otherwise the rules for termination of employment will be applied.

Change In Ownership Of The Business

If a business is transferred to a new employer, all employment agreements of the employees will be transferred provided that these agreements relate to the company and the business of the company which is the subject of the transfer.

The employee shall maintain all the rights from the employment relationship which the employee has acquired until transfer to a new employer. The new employer takes over all the rights and obligations from the transferred employment agreement.

Social Security Contributions

Pension insurance contributions and taxes are paid by the employer for the employee and are deducted from the gross pay (gross 1). Gross 1 is not total cost of the employee - the employer is also paying health insurance contributions for each employee, as employer’s obligation (gross 2).

Accidents At Work

The Act on safety at work provides a set of measures which have to be applied to prevent accidents at work. These measures and conditions have to be ensured by the employer.

Work-related injury and professional illness which an employee has suffered working are deemed to be deriving from the employer and the employer is liable for these injuries on the principle of strict liability. The employer can be exempted from responsibility or this responsibility can be minimized if the damage is a result of force majeure, by intent or gross negligence of the employee or a third party, on which the employer could not influence and which consequences the employer could not prevent, despite the work protection measures.

Discipline And Grievance

An employer of 20 or more employees has to appoint the person who, apart from him/her is authorised to take and address the grievances of employees in connection to the protection of the dignity of employees. If the employee has addressed grievance, he can demand the protection and execution of the employee's rights from the employer within certain time limits and then in court.

Harassment/Discrimination/Equal pay

There is a general ban on discrimination which also includes the right to equal pay. The claims can be brought to the ombudswoman and/or ombudsman for gender equality before filing a claim before the competent court. Harassment claims need to be addressed by the appointed person or the employer and can be brought by the employee to the employer or the appointed person authorised by the employer for the protection of the dignity of employees. These claims have to be resolved within eight days, and if not done so the employee has the right to an additional eight days to file a claim before the competent court and to stop working until given proper protection.

Compulsory Training Obligations

The employer shall provide training and education whenever changes and a new way of working or organisation of work are applied. The employer is obligated to provide to the employee, depending on the possibilities and work needs, education and training.

Offsetting Earnings

The employer cannot, without the consent of the employee, enforce their claims towards the employee by withholding pay or any part thereof. For this offsetting, the employee cannot give consent in advance.

Payments For Maternity And Disability Leave

There is an Act on Maternity and Parental Support regulating the percentile of pay that is granted to the employees who are using these rights. Disability leave is covered partially by the employer and partially by health insurance depending on the duration of the leave.

Compulsory Insurance

Croatia does not have compulsory insurance; however, health and pension insurance are obligatory and are paid by the employer for the employee from the gross pay amount.

Absence For Military Or Public Service Duties

There are no provisions as the military and public service is voluntary.

Works Councils or Trade Unions

Employees working for an employer who has at least 20 employees have the right to participate in the decision-making process regarding the questions of their economic and social rights. The works council will be elected upon a proposal of the trade union or 20 % of employees. Works council representatives are bound by the Employment Act to keep all the information as a business secret that they receive while performing their duties as works council representatives. The employees have the right to form a trade union and be a part of a trade union. The employers have the right to form and be a part of the employer’s association.

Employees’ Right To Strike

The employees have the right to strike. The strike has to be announced to the employer and the solidarity strike as well. Several conditions have to be met for the strike to be lawful, in the case of an unlawful strike, the employer has the right to claim damages.

Employees On Strike

Employees who have participated in a strike, the pay and additions on pay can be adjusted according to the time spent on strike. Organising or participating in a lawful strike does not represent a breach of employment obligations. The employee cannot be put in a less favourable position compared to other employees due to organising or participating in a strike. The employment can be terminated due to the employee’s participation in an unlawful strike or if an employee has breached other employment obligations during the strike.

Employers’ Responsibility For Actions Of Their Employees

According to the Obligations Act, the employer is liable for the damages caused by their employee while working or in connection to work to the third party unless the employer proves that there were circumstances that exempts the employee from liability. The employer has the right to claim compensation from the employee if the employee has acted with intent or gross negligence. The limitation on the employer’s claim towards the employee is six months since covering the damages.

Procedures For Terminating the Agreement

The dismissal can be ordinary and extraordinary. For both types, there are specific grounds prescribed by law. The notice period is agreed in the employment agreement or defined by law. Before ordinary termination caused by the employee’s misconduct, the employer shall deliver a warning in writing due to an employment obligation breach and point out the possibility of termination, this can be omitted if there are circumstances in which this is not to be expected from the employer. Before ordinary and extraordinary dismissal, the employer shall enable the employee to lay out his/her defence for their conduct, unless under the circumstances this is not expected from the employer.

Instant Dismissal

Extraordinary termination by the employer or the employee is granted without notice if there is a justified reason for termination that is a particularly difficult breach of obligations or another extremely important fact, that bearing in mind all the circumstances and interests of both parties the continuation of employment is not possible. The limitation is 15 days since becoming aware of the fact that represents the grounds for dismissal.

Employee's Resignation

An employee can terminate the employment agreement without stating a reason with a notice period which cannot be longer than one month if the employee has an especially important reason.

Termination On Notice

Notice periods can be agreed in the employment agreement, and if not, it is the one prescribed by law and it depends on the time the employee was employed. In case that the reason for dismissal is due to the employee’s misconduct, the notice period prescribed by law can be shortened.

Termination By Reason Of The Employee's Age

The employment can be terminated when the employee reaches 65 years of age and has 15 years of pensionable service.

Automatic Termination In Cases Of Force Majeure

There are no relevant provisions that grant automatic termination due to force majeure.

Collective Dismissals

If the employer will no longer need at least 20 employees in 90 days, out of which at least five employee’s dismissals would be based on business reasons, that employer is obligated to, in an appropriate and timely manner, conduct a consultation with the works council to conclude an agreement for the purpose of eliminating and/or reducing the number of no longer needed employees. The employer shall notify the competent public employment service body about this consultation. The employees cannot be dismissed before a period of 30 days has passed since delivering the notice of consultation. The competent body can prolong the notice period for an additional 30 days if it can secure the continuance of employment for that employee.

Termination By Parties’ Agreement

This agreement must be concluded in writing.

Directors Or Other Senior Officers

As regulated by their agreement, otherwise the rules from the Employment Act apply apart from the provisions of employment for a certain period, termination, notice period and severance payment.

Special Rules For Categories Of Employee

Employees who are under 18 have special provisions and limitation in relation to working hours – the maximum working hours in 24 hours is 8 hours, overtime work is banned for minors. Night work is generally banned, except in certain circumstances.

Night workers are considered to be employees who are working regularly at least 3 hours during night work and they should not be working longer than an average 8 hours for each 24 hours in a 4-month period.

During pregnancy leave, maternity, paternity, adoption leave, part-time work due to intensive care of the child, pregnancy leave, leave of the mother who is breastfeeding and leave or part-time work due to intensive care of a child with special needs, within 15 days since the termination of pregnancy or using the mentioned rights, the employer cannot terminate the employment. The employer is notified within 15 days since the notice of termination is given that one of the mentioned reasons exist the termination is null and void, however in cases of winding up based on a special provision, the termination can be valid if it is based on business reasons.

Employment cannot be terminated while the employee is healing and /or recovering from a professional illness or work-related injury.

Whistleblower Laws

There is an Act on the Protection of Reporters of Irregularities by which employers who are employing more than 50 persons have to form an internal mechanism for the reporting of irregularities. The employer cannot place the employee in an unfavourable position due to reporting of irregularities, i.e., termination of employment, withholding pay, inability to be promoted, etc.

Specific Rules For Companies in Financial Difficulties

There is an Act on Insurance of Employees’ Claims in the Event of Bankruptcy of the Employer which grants the protection of material rights of employees in cases of bankruptcy or account block of the employer. Apart from this, the rules for termination due to business reasons apply.

Special Rules For Garden Leave

Garden leave is possible during the notice period which is followed by termination of employment. The employee during the notice period and on garden leave should be paid the usual salary and the employer will recognise all the rights of the employee as if the employee is not on garden leave.

Restricting Future Activities

Contractual non-compete clauses are binding for the employee if agreed upon and if during the duration of non-compete the employer is paying the compensation at least in the amount of one-half of the average pay paid to the employee in the last three months before the termination of employment. The non-compete can be valid even without the compensation from the employer if a contractual penalty was agreed. The contractual non-compete must be concluded in writing and cannot last longer than two years since the employment termination.

Severance Payments

The employee has the right to a severance payment if the employer is terminating the agreement after two years of continuous work unless the reason for dismissal is caused by the employee’s conduct. The agreed severance payment cannot be agreed in the amount of less than one-third of the average employee’s pay in the last three months of work for each full year of continuous employment, however, unless otherwise agreed this amount cannot be higher than six average pays.

Special Tax Provisions And Severance Payments

Severance payments are tax-deductible up to a prescribed amount after which they are taxed as a normal salary.

Allowances Payable To Employees After Termination

All allowances that are agreed upon can be paid to employees.

Time Limits For Claims Following Termination

After delivery of the dismissal notice, the employee must within 15 days request from the employer to stop infringing the employee’s rights. The employer has 15 days after the delivery of the employee’s request to comply with the request, if not done so by the employer the employee has an additional 15 days to file an action before the competent court.

Specific Matters Which Are Important Or Unique To This Jurisdiction

The employee is considered to be in a weaker position when compared to the employer, therefore our employment law is structured to be always in favorem of the employee. This principle is reflected through all aspects of employment relations and safeguards employees as weaker parties.

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Dora Horvat
ILEJ & PARTNERS, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners

Nika Petić
ILEJ & PARTNERS, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners


© 2021, ILEJ & PARTNERS, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners. All rights reserved by ILEJ & PARTNERS, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners as author and the owner of the copyright in this chapter. ILEJ & PARTNERS, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners has granted to Multilaw non-exclusive worldwide license to use and include this chapter in this guide and to sublicense Lexis Nexis, a division of RELX Inc. and its affiliates certain rights to use and distribute this Guide.

The information in the How to Hire and Fire Guide provides a general overview at the time of publication and is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all legal developments nor should it be taken as opinion or legal advice on the matters covered. It is for general information purposes only and readers should take legal advice from a Multilaw member firm.

Publication Date: June 2021