Measures to curb employing migrants illegally, Slovakia
As a result of the opening of the Slovak labour market in 2004, illegal migration to the country increased. To prevent illegal immigration, including illegal employment, specific measures were adopted in 2011 by amendments to the Act No. 223/2011. The adopted legislation also transposed the EU Directive on illegal migration and improved cooperation between partner institutions.
Even though the economic situation of Slovakia with its relatively low wages (according to the Slovak Statistical Office (ŠÚ SR) it was an average of €786 per month in 2011) is not attractive for most citizens of the EU countries, the possibility of receiving substantially higher earnings than in their own countries is attractive for migrants from the third countries, particularly those from Ukraine and the Balkans. The increase in the number of migrant workers has been particularly noticeable after Slovakia joined the EU in 2004. However, some of the migrant workers are work illegally in Slovakia.
Foreign employment is a relatively new feature of the Slovak labour market and foreigners represent only 1% of the workforce (International Organization for Migration, 2010). It is, therefore, necessary to develop specific measures to prevent undeclared work by foreign migrants.
The measure transposes into Slovakian law the European Parliament and Council Directive No. 2009/52/EC, laying down the minimum standards for sanctions and measures against employers employing citizens from the third-country who illegally stay at the territory of the Member States, into the national legislation in 2011.
The law introduces the obligation to inform the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family within a specified period regarding the commencement of the employment of a third-country citizen and the requirement to pay the costs related to the administrative expulsion of an illegally employed foreigner.
At the same time, the granting of a residence permit was permitted in cases where a foreigner was a victim of illegal employment under particularly exploitative working conditions, or if employed underage. If it is found that the employer employed the person illegally, the employer is placed on a public list on the internet and is excluded from participation in public procurement. An illegally working foreigner may be administratively expelled from the territory of the Slovak Republic and, depending on the particular situation, an exclusion order may be imposed on them for one to five years. For illegal work, it is possible to impose a fine of up to €331 on a foreigner; the fine for the employer ranges from €2,000 to €200,000. At the same time, the National Labour Inspectorate (NIP) is obliged to provide information to the European Commission annually on inspections carried out and on their results.
The NIP, Social Insurance Agency, Offices of Labour, Social Affairs and Family and the police are all working together on this project. International cooperation in combating illegal migration is also necessary because Slovakia belongs to the Schengen zone and participates in specific projects covering the zone.
Outcome of evaluations: lessons and conclusions
Achievement of objectives
Transposition of the EU Directive into the national legislation has, firstly, strengthened the institutional coordination of the fight against illegal migration and secondly, increased the risk of severe penalties for domestic entrepreneurs in cases of the illegal employment of foreigners.
Obstacles and problems
The Slovak Republic has so far not paid more attention to the so-called ‘soft’ measures in the fight against illegal migration, such as campaigns in the countries of origin, counselling centres and links for migrants, targeted development aid and the like, which could be an effective complement to the restrictive measures and contribute to a more effective fight against illegal migration and the negative effects connected with this phenomenon (IOM study, 2001).
The knowledge and skills of the domestic actors acquired by cooperating with foreign and international organisations in detecting the illegal work of migrant foreigners has been valuable.
There are no data on the total number of illegal migrants working in Slovakia. The IOM estimates show for instance that in 2008 there were 18,247 foreign migrants officially working in Slovakia, their real number being estimated to range between 34,000 and 37,000 persons. Data are available on the cases of illegal employment of foreigners.
Transposition of the EU Directive into national legislation systems is mandatory for EU Member States.
- IOM Medzinárodná organizácia pre migráciu, Úrad v Slovenskej republike, www.iom.sk
- National Labour Inspectorate: www.ip.gov.sk, www.safework.gov.sk
Rastislav Bednárik, Institute for Labour and Family Research