This year, Serbia marks the International Family Day, May 15, in the midst of the Covid-19 virus epidemic, during which the importance of a family for psychological, social and economic survival and activities of an individual in emergencies was once again confirmed. At the same time, certain shortcomings of systemic action have been identified in terms of ensuring the functionality of families with members with disabilities, those facing poverty, various forms of violence and social exclusion, as well as those among the most vulnerable social groups.

Since he took the office in 2017, the Protector of Citizens Zoran Pašalić has been pointing out to the difficult position of the most vulnerable social groups, above all families with children with disabilities or developmental disabilities. Mr. Pašalić highlights the inconsistency of the provision of the Law on Financial Support to Families with Children, stipulating that the right to salary compensation during work leave for special child care cannot be exercised for a child who is entitled to allowance for carer’s assistance.

Employed women, entrepreneurs, farmers and women performing temporary and occasional jobs do not have equal legal position when exercising the right to salary compensation after child birth and child care, and it affects the whole family, which Mr. Pašalić has been drawing attention to during the preparation of this Law. The Protector of Citizens once again indicates to the need to amend the Law on Financial Support to Families with Children in order to rectify these shortcomings.

There still are shortcomings that make it impossible to fully exercise the rights based on pregnancy, birth and child care, which the Protector of Citizens has been pointing out for years. Although the Recommendations were issued back in 2013 due to omissions in the actions of administrative authorities in situations when the employer does not fulfill the legal obligation to calculate and pay wages to new mothers, the Protector of Citizens launched an investigation, due to new complaints on similar problems, in which systemic shortcomings and individual omissions were identified in the competent authorities’ work. That was why Mr. Pašalić reissued Recommendations to competent authorities in 2018, which those authorities partially followed. At the same time, Mr. Pašalić calls attention to a grave problem of domestic and intimate-partner violence that women, children and the elderly most often face, despite the progress in intersectoral cooperation and exchange of information among the competent authorities achieved after the adoption of the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence.

Mr. Pašalić reminds that care for the elderly in a family, primarily in safeguarding their health and ensuring longer life, is extremely important for nurturing collective memory among other things, because if they leave us too soon we lose the pillars of fundamental values of our society which we pass on to our descendants.

Since the International Day of Families emphasizes the importance of a family as a basic particle of any society, Mr. Pašalić urges the competent authorities to act in favor of the family by making decisions that will ensure a better standard and quality of family life, regardless of the family’s social category.