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Hidden gems: Hiring remote workers in North Macedonia

May 27, 2024

Located in the Balkan region of Europe, North Macedonia features a blend of ancient history and diverse cultural influences. The capital city, Skopje, is known for its unique mix of modernity and tradition, including historic monuments, vibrant markets, and a lively cultural scene.

North Macedonia leaders are concentrating on boosting the country's profile and improving its global standing as a hiring hot spot. This includes a push to improve the training and skills of its people. The result is a workforce that is well-educated, skilled, and eager to work on a global level.

Hiring in North Macedonia: The Basics

North Macedonia is an appealing option for countries expanding into new markets due to its low corporate tax rate of 10%. However, before hiring in North Macedonia, it's important to understand employment laws regarding salary, working hours, and factors like the 13th month salary. A firm grasp of legal employment requirements will help you avoid potential compliance issues.

Before we dive into the specifics of hiring in North Macedonia, here are a few high-level details about the country itself:

  • Languages: Macedonian, Albanian
  • Currency: Macedonian Denar (MKD)
  • Capital: Skopje
  • Population: 2.1 Million
  • Cost of living rank: 120th

Skilled Workforce

North Macedonia officials are focused on increasing the number of skilled workers in the country. These efforts involve improving access to education and job training. The goal is to help an already hard-working population find jobs in emerging and growing sectors within the country. The result is a workforce with the skills needed to compete not just on a local level but also on a global scale.

This growth is particularly noticeable in tech industries. The IT industry is growing by more than 15% annually in North Macedonia. Local tech companies are also beginning to attract international funding and support.

Cost Efficiency

The lower cost of living and doing business means it's more affordable for international companies looking to hire in North Macedonia. As of March 2024, the minimum wage in North Macedonia is MKD 22,567 or about USD 398 per month. This means you're getting high-quality talent for a lower salary than you might pay in other countries.

Language Proficiency

Like residents of many European countries, North Macedonians are often fluent in English. Multilingualism is also common, so employees can likely easily communicate with diverse teams worldwide, not just those in English-speaking countries.

Strategic Location

North Macedonia is located in Southeastern Europe, making it convenient for businesses looking to expand in a central location. It's also in the Central European Time zone, which is well-aligned for anyone working in Europe, Eastern Europe, and Asian time zones.

Cultural Compatibility

North Macedonian culture and business practices mesh nicely with Western standards. North Macedonians are also highly adaptable. They can easily shift to match the styles of diverse global teams.

Government Support and Ecosystem

If you're considering establishing a physical presence in North Macedonia, Free Economic Zones offer incentives to companies willing to develop in these regions. Among the benefits are 10 years of tax exemption, up to €500,000 worth of building incentives, and 99-year leases for land.

Hiring Compliantly in North Macedonia

Employment Contracts

Employment contracts are a must-have when hiring talent in North Macedonia. Contracts must include details about job responsibilities, salary, any terms and conditions for employment, start and end dates, and any other essential details regarding the position.

While you don't need contracts when hiring freelancers in North Macedonia, it's still advisable to use them to ensure the scope of work is spelled out and agreed to by both parties. Outline the deliverables and pay, and state that your company will maintain the rights to any IP created by the contractor. Employers are also responsible for ensuring that any freelancers they employ pay taxes and contribute appropriately to the country's social security system.

Working Hours & Pay

North Macedonia has laws governing working hours, time off, and wages. The standard workweek is 40 hours spread over five days. Employees working more than six hours are entitled to a 30-minute lunch break. Employees also must have 12 hours of uninterrupted time between working days, and weekly rest periods must be at least 24 hours.

Overtime work is limited to a maximum of eight hours a week (190 total in a year). Employee who work more than 150 hours of overtime in a year without missing more than 21 days of work are entitled to the 13th-month salary — an extra payment at the end of the year, roughly equivalent to one month's pay.

As mentioned earlier, the minimum wage in North Macedonia is MKD 22,567, and employees are typically paid on a monthly basis.

Taxes

Employees are responsible for making all contributions to taxes and social security programs. The employer's only responsibility is to make the necessary deductions.

The tax and deductions breakdown for employees in North Macedonia is as follows:

  • 18.8% Pension and disability
  • 7.5% Health insurance
  • 0.50% Additional health insurance
  • 1.20% Employment insurance
  • 10% Flat rate for income tax

Termination Process

There is no at-will termination in North Macedonia. If an employer wishes to terminate an employee, they must have just cause and provide 30-day notice, which can be extended to 90 days, depending on the employee's contract.

Along with the mandatory 30-day notice, employers must provide severance pay according to the following scale:

  • 1-5 years with the company: 1-month salary
  • 5-10 years with the company: 2.5 month's salary
  • 10-15 years with the company: 3.5 month's salary
  • 15-20 years with the company: 4.5 month's salary
  • 20-25 years with the company: 6 month's salary
  • Over 25 years: 7 month's salary

Paid Leave

Vacation and Holiday

Employees are entitled to paid time off for 11 national holidays in North Macedonia. They include:

  • New Year's Day
  • Orthodox Christmas
  • Worker's Day
  • Independence Day
  • Day of the Macedonian Revolution

Employees are also granted an additional 20 days of paid time off each year. This increases by one day for every five years an employee works with the company and maxes out at 26 days.

Sick Leave

In North Macedonia, employees can take up to 30 days of paid sick leave a year. The pay rate depends on the length of the leave. Up to seven days, it's 70% of normal pay. For sick leave up to 15 days, it's 80% of normal pay. Between 15 and 30 days, it increases to 90%. After 30 days, employees can claim health insurance through the government.

Parental Leave

Pregnant employees who have worked for their employer for at least six consecutive months are entitled to nine months of paid maternity leave. This jumps up to 15 months in the case of multiple births, such as twins or triplets. The country's social security system pays mothers their full salary. An employee with a partner who has finished their initial 45 days of maternity leave is entitled to take seven working days of paid paternity leave, which is also fully paid by the government.

Mothers are also entitled to take up to three months of unpaid parental leave before their child turns three years old.

Why Digital Nomads Love North Macedonia

Digital nomads are increasingly drawn to the splendors of North Macedonia. In addition to being a beautiful country that is currently flying slightly under the radar, it has a lower cost of living than most other countries on the European continent. On average, it's approximately 53% cheaper to live in North Macedonia than in the United States.

A North Macedonia digital nomad visa is in the works, but the details and start date have yet to be announced. In the meantime, visitors can stay and work remotely in the country for up to 90 days. And since it's not part of the European Union or the Schengen Area, any time spent in North Macedonia does not count towards the 90-day Schengen limit for digital nomads who want to visit and work in other European countries following their North Macedonia stay.

Confidently Hire in North Macedonia with Remofirst

When you're hiring in a new country, it helps to work with a partner who's already done the legwork and knows the system.

An Employer of Record (EOR) like Remofirst can help. We've formed partnerships with employment experts in over 180 countries worldwide (including North Macedonia) to ensure that you remain compliant every step of the way, whether hiring North Macedonian residents or freelancers living in the country. Contact us today to book your demo and learn more.