General labour laws apply in the same manner to the culture field as in any other sector that is funded from the government’s budget. There is also (more or less) a unified system of salaries for those working in the public sector.
The Retirement Law that came into effect in September 2007 made huge changes in the general retirement policy that seriously affected the cultural sector. Changes were made to the beneficial status of some groups in the cultural sector. It especially concerns the ballet dancers in the Macedonian National Ballet, who now are required to work more years longer than before. The old law had guaranteed a beneficial status to this profession – one year was calculated as a year and a half – so the ballet dancers could retire after 20-25 years’ work (at the age of 40-45). Now, according to the new law, the beneficial status is still appreciated but the calculations have changed: 1 year for every third year! So the ballet dancers will have to work for nearly ten more years: female dancers until 53 years of age and male dancers until 56. The same problem applies to all the brass instrumentalists in the Macedonian music institutions.
The amendments (2014) to the Retirement Law provide the possibility (on a written request) for men to work until 67 and for women until 65. However, several women university professors submitted to the Constitutional Court an initiative for equalisation of retirement rights. The Macedonian Helsinki Committee also objected to these amendments.
There is also standardised collective bargaining agreements used when negotiating contracts with state run institutions. The first Collective Agreement was signed in June 2005 (as a first of its kind in the period of Transition) and it was amended in March 2006. A new Collective Agreement is in preparation.
One of the burning issues in 2012 on the position of cultural workers was the government’s decision to change their status into public servants under the Law on Public Servants. However, the Constitutional Court has overruled the articles in this Law confirming that the status of cultural workers is already regulated by the Law on Culture.
On the other hand, following the new urgent amendments (February 2014) to the Law on Culture, the status of employees in the public cultural institutions has radically changed. According to the amendments there are 3 groups of employees: administrative staff (whose labour rights fall under the Law on Administration), cultural service providers (whose labour rights fall under the Law on Culture) and technical staff (whose labour rights fall under the Law on Employees in the Public Sector). The main category – the so called cultural service providers – has several subcategories: artist, assistant artist, skilled stage worker, skilled cultural collaborator, and skilled collaborator in the protection of cultural heritage, etc. Then, each subcategory has several levels. For example, the subcategory “artist” is further divided into “first category artist”, “second category artist”, concert maestro, etc.
The National Strategy for Cultural Development 2018-2022 and the new Law on exercising the public interest in culture (in preparation) promote a status for cultural workers outside of the Law on Administration. The Government has also indicated that the Law on Administration should be revised in 2019.