Seasonal work vouchers, Croatia
This project, introduced during the summer of 2012, aims at making it easier to employ seasonal workers in agriculture in a formal way by issuing vouchers. The employers use the vouchers to pay the seasonal workers. The purchased vouchers include social contributions and taxes.
The interest in seasonal work within agriculture is significant. From 15,344 family agricultural businesses, seasonal workers are most needed in the Splitsko-dalmatinska region where most workers are needed in crop production (80%) and subsequently cattle farming (20%).
Work within the agriculture industry in Croatia is largely dependent upon weather conditions. Before the implementation of the new system employers had to declare employees for a whole month when the work might be carried out only for a limited number of days. This made it expensive for them to declare workers. The implemented voucher system means that temporary and casual work in agriculture is regulated by the Law on the Promotion of Employment (57/12), the ordinance on the content and form of the seasonal work in agriculture, and the decision on the lowest amount of seasonal wage workers in agriculture in 2012. According to this, the employer only has to pay for the social contributions of the days the employee works for.
The aim is to legalise a significant part of current undeclared activities within agriculture as well as to facilitate employment.
The obligation of the employer is that for each recorded day of work the employee is given a daily coupon. All unused vouchers can be exchanged for cash in the office in which they were purchased. The new system gives larger incentives for declaring seasonal work because under the previous law social contributions had to be paid for the entire month, even if the weather allowed only five days of working for seasonal employees. To protect the workers a number of regulations are outlined such as a minimum daily wage of HRK 70.40 (€9.40) and a maximum of 12 working hours per day. A seasonal worker can be employed for 90 days per calendar year. The penalties for violating the provisions of the relevant Act are up to HRK 50,000 for legal persons and between HRK 10,000 and HRK 30,000 for individuals. The law is simple, clear and the process is limited in administration.
Defining a seasonal worker
To be a seasonal worker in agriculture, individuals can be unemployed and registered with the Croatian Employment Service (CES) as unemployed; becoming a seasonal worker does not cause these individuals to be removed from such records. Other eligible categories include people who are unemployed and not registered, senior citizens and other job seekers who are not employed or are not employed on a full-time basis. Minors cannot be included as seasonal workers because of the high risks associated with agriculture jobs. Whether the employee works continuously or intermittently, the longest duration of seasonal work is defined as 90 days per year.
Lessons and conclusions
Achievement of objectives
The project, introduced during the summer of 2012, is still too new for its impact to be commented on but the results are promising.
Because this project is still in the evaluation phase, it is difficult to draw conclusions on its transferability potential. However, it does seem that the project could and should be transferred to other countries and sectors with high seasonal employment. It has been mentioned by the government that if successful within agriculture the system will be transferred to the household services, tourism and other seasonal activities.
Ministry of Agriculture (Ministarstvo Poljoprivrede)
Ministry of Labour and Pension System (Ministarstvo rada i Mirovinskog Sustava)
Agricultural Advisory Service (Poljoprivredna Savjetodavna Služba, PSS)