Simplification of administrative procedures, Slovenia
As part of its efforts to combat undeclared work, the Slovenian government has sought to create an administrative environment which is more favourable for the declaration of economic activities. The simplified procedures regarding the employment of foreigners and seasonal workers may have contributed to reducing cases of undeclared work which were caused by lengthy procedures involved in acquiring work permits for foreigners. The removal of administrative barriers and simplification of rules has had a positive economic impact on different segments of society.
The Ministry of Public Administration (Ministrstvo za javno upravo) was assigned the task of creating a more efficient and user-friendly public administration and legislative environment for citizens and economic operators in Slovenia. Against this background, the government adopted the ‘Programme of measures for the reduction of administrative burdens’ in November 2005. The measures were previously agreed on with all responsible ministries and also with the Slovene Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Gospodarska Zbornica Slovenije, GZS). The activities are focused on two important objectives: the programme of measures to remove administrative barriers; and the systematic examination of all new regulations for the purpose of preventing new administrative burdens. The following areas are particularly affected: legislation regarding companies, crop production, statistics, transport and food hygiene.
Apart from the Ministry of Public Administration, other organisations involved in this initiative include the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs (Ministrstvo za delo, družino in socialne zadeve, MDDSZ), the Employment Service of Slovenia (Zavod Republike Slovenije za zaposlovanje, ZRSZ) and the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (Zavod za zdravstveno zavarovanje Slovenije, ZZZS). Other important actors involved in this initiative are interested members of the public, experts, representatives of companies, chambers and other various associations.
In addition to simplifying and reducing administrative barriers, another important objective of this initiative is to create simpler and better legislation that citizens and economic operators will find easier to understand.
Specific measures for combating undeclared work include Measure No. 10 – ‘Work of close family members in the prevention of illegal work and employment Act’ – and Measure No. 11 – ‘Employment of foreigners and seasonal labour’.
Family members usually pursue unpaid short-term or temporary work urgently required for the smooth operation of the family business; however, the duration of this work is such that it does not enable employment. Small enterprises are mostly family-owned enterprises. Before the implementation of Measure No. 10, such work was considered illegal. In 2006, the Prevention of Illegal Work and Employment Act was amended and the exceptions not considered illegal employment were redefined; under the amended act, short-term unpaid work in a micro-enterprise or in a company with a maximum of 10 employees is not considered illegal employment if performed by the spouse of the entrepreneur or owner, co-owner of the company, or a person who is a blood relative in a direct line to the third generation, with a limitation of 40 hours a month and performed with prior notification to the competent administrative unit.
Excessively long administrative procedures regarding the issuing of work permits hinder the smooth operation of enterprises in the market. For foreigners, particularly those being employed in occupations where there is a skills shortage, the procedures should be shortened with a view to reducing unnecessary bureaucratic activities. In such procedures, the administrative authorities themselves should obtain the documents already contained in the records.
Evaluation and outcome
Achievement of objectives
In 2005, the government adopted the ‘Programme of 34 measures to eliminate administrative barriers for 2006’; of these, a total of 15 measures were realised, representing 45% of the overall proportion. At the end of 2006, the Act on the Prevention of Illegal Work and Employment was amended, reducing significantly the number of documents to be submitted by the applicant for first or new employment on the basis of the ‘Rules on obtaining permits for shortage occupations’. In addition, the procedure for recognising certificates obtained abroad, particularly for citizens of third countries, has been simplified. The rules now stipulate that the Employment Service itself will establish the education level of a foreigner in cases where the foreigner has a secondary or lower education; prior to this, the confirmation of certificates acquired abroad took six months. Under the new regulations, when a foreign worker is employed for the first time, the employer has to submit only four pieces of evidence; previously, 15 pieces of evidence were required. The procedure for obtaining a work permit should now last no longer than 20 days. With regard to the procedure for obtaining work permits for occupations that are in shortage, it is no longer necessary to determine whether there are workers available in the labour market or not; this has shortened the procedure for occupations in shortage by another eight days.
One particularly significant administrative barrier that has been eliminated concerns the mandatory notification of the Employment Service. Under the new regulations, the employer will have no additional obligation for registration, since this was already carried out by the Health Insurance Institute. The Employment Service and Health Insurance Institute established a special recording and information system and thus carry out the verification procedure. This relieves the employer of having to register foreign workers twice.
Obstacles and problems
Those proposing new regulations and rules are obliged to consult and coordinate at the inter-ministerial level and with representatives of interested members of the public and of civil society. In this instance, however, those proposing the measures often did not publish the regulations on websites, nor did they involve interested members of the public in preparing the regulations for the purpose of coordinating the text.
In 2006, the Ministry of Public Administration examined 480 rules and/or regulations at the level of individual ministries on the basis of amendments to the ‘Rules of procedure of the government of the Republic of Slovenia’ and adopted the ‘Methodology for fulfilling and monitoring the declaration on the elimination of administrative barriers and cooperation of the interested public’. For the purposes of preventing new administrative barriers and/or inadequate procedures for adopting legislation, 31% of the proposed regulations were refused.
The removal of administrative barriers and the simplification of procedures are expected to result in positive economic effects in different segments of society. On the one hand, some of the effects are direct – for example, through the elimination of individual procedures for obtaining permits or the reduction in costs due to more simplified procedures. Other effects are more indirect – for instance, enabling citizens or representatives of companies to dedicate more time to their work or leisure activities.
In obtaining work permits for foreigners, the savings for the economy are extremely high. This is due, in particular, to the reduction in administrative barriers related to too much bureaucratic ‘red tape’.
The transferability of this measure depends on the legal framework into which the measure is to be transferred. The central principle of this measure would certainly be welcome in any environment where there is room for simplification of administrative procedures.
Ministry of Public Administration, Website: www.mju.gov.si/
Ministry for Public Administration, Report on the simplification and reduction of administrative burdens in 2006, February 2007.
Ministry for Public Administration, Elimination of administrative barriers in 2007, Interim Report, August 2007.
University of Ljubljana