What is an Electronic Signature?
Generally speaking, an electronic signature (or e-signature) is a technical process logically associated with a document which two (or more) individuals or organizations (the signatories) agree to rely on in order to express their intent to sign such document. Three components are therefore necessary: a document, a signatory and an e-signature tool. While the tool most commonly used for handwritten signatures is a simple pen, electronic signature tools are typically more complex.
From a regulatory standpoint, an electronic signature is a broad category that encompasses many types (or levels) of electronic signatures. Depending on the country it is used in, there are differences in purpose, legal acceptance, technical implementation and cultural acceptance of electronic signatures.
In particular, e-signature requirements tend to vary significantly between most “civil law” countries (including the European Union and many countries in South America and Asia), and most “common law” countries (such as the United States, Canada and Australia). Civil law countries typically support a “tiered” approach including higher levels of signature often called digital or qualified electronic signatures (typically required for specific types of contracts), as opposed to common law jurisdictions which are typically more technology-neutral.
In addition, some industries (such as healthcare or banking) and documents (such as marriage or adoption contracts) may require a higher level of e-signature.
What are the laws and regulations in Serbia?
The Law on Electronical Document, Electronical Identification and Confidential Service in Electronical Business was passed in October 27, 2017 and replaces the 2009 Electronic Signature Law. The bylaws for the new Law are still being developed and should be formalized in the next 12 months. The bylaws will very likely meet the standards that are in place across the European Union as Serbia is working to become part of the EU.
Is an electronic signature valid in Serbia?
Electronic signatures are allowed in Serbia and, per the Law, the validity of documents cannot be questioned only because they are in electronic form. That said, note that the courts in Serbia are conservative and formalistic when it comes to labor disputes. It may be best to take a conservative approach and obtain wet-ink signatures for some employee documents (such as employment agreements, termination letters, etc.) until there is legal precedent relating to electronic signatures and opinions from Serbia’s Ministry of Labor can be requested.
Electronic signatures in Serbia have different levels of validity depending on the technical and security measures that have been taken. There are three levels of electronic signature under the new Law, with Advanced signatures having a higher level of legal validity than basic electronic signatures, and Qualified electronic signatures having the highest legal value and generally having the same legal effect as a wet-ink signature.
HR Best Practices: Electronic signatures are generally legally allowed in Serbia. That said, until there is more of a history in the courts relating to the use of electronic signatures in the employment context, it may make sense to use wet-ink signatures for certain employee records.
Led by PeopleDoc’s Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, the HR Compliance Assist team relies on a network of internal and external compliance experts and lawyers, including the global law firm Morgan Lewis, to provide clients with best practices and recommendations on topics such as HR document retention, employee data privacy, and HR electronic records. HR Compliance Assist also provides local compliance monitoring and alert services in select countries where PeopleDoc’s customers have employees. HR Compliance Assist is a service exclusively available to PeopleDoc customers.