Slovenia: Temporary agency work and collective bargaining in the EU

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 18 December 2008



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All social partners agree upon the importance of TAW in Slovenia for higher employability of unemployed persons and those searching for job and higher mobility of workforce. The number of temporary work agencies and also the number of workers employed at agencies is recently increasing, mostly due to the nature and increased amount of work. The lack of lower educated and qualified workers and dynamic economic growth demand future development of TAW. Trade unions are critical to unequal rights and worse working conditions of agency workers in practice, while employer associations refer to workers` equal rights, as defined under the law.

Section 1. Definitions

1) In your country, is there a statutory definition of:

a) temporary agency work?b) agency worker?c) user enterprise?

If yes, please give definitions.

The Law on Labour Relations (Zakon o delovnih razmerjih, LLR, 2007) (SI0706019I) in Articles 57 to 62 (subchapter Employment Contract between the Worker and the Employer who carries out the Activity of providing Workers to another user) defines TAW.

Article 57, paragraph (1) of the LLR states: “The employer who, in accordance with the regulations on employment and unemployment insurance can performs the activity of providing workers to another employer, (hereinafter referred to as “the user”) shall conclude an employment contract with such workers”.

The LLR ensures that the temporary agency workers enjoy labour and social rights in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No.181 on private employment agencies.

The legal relationship between the agency (employer) and the worker is an employment relationship based on the employment contract.

2) Is there a collectively agreed definition of:

a) temporary agency work?b) agency worker?c) user enterprise?

If yes, please give details (e.g. how and where defined).

No.

3) In your country, would you describe TAW as a sector in its own right?

Representatives of employer associations, trade union confederations and government estimate that TAW is not recognized as a sector.

Section 2. Regulatory framework

1) Have there been any changes in the law concerning TAW since 2004?

a) Yes b) No

a) Yes, the regulation of TAW has changed in Slovenia during the past 4 years.

On 29 October 2007 the parliament adopted the amendments to the 2002 Law on Labour Relations (LLR). Some of the minor amendments also concern temporary agency workers. TAW agencies are no longer required to have a concession contract to engage in activity of providing workers to the user (Article 57, paragraph 1) and the cases when employer may not refer workers to a workplace with another user, laid down by branch collective agreements, stress the need of providing better safety and health conditions (Article 57, paragraph 2).

On 14 July 2006 the Law on Employment and Unemployment Insurance (Zakon o zaposlovanju in zavarovanju za primer brezposelnosti, LEUI) was amended and some of the changes also concerned the TWA. The most important amendment introduced a distinction between employment agencies and temporary work agencies. The difference is that an employment agency must conclude a concession contract for employment and work brokerage services with the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs (Ministrstvo za delo, družino in socialne zadeve, MDDSZ) in order to seek employment or work for unemployed persons. On the other hand (Article 6 of LEUI), a TWA acquires the right to engage in activity of providing workers to the user by its entry into the register of TWA and does not need to conclude a concession contract with the MDDSZ. (SI0803029Q)

On 22 December 2006 the minister responsible for labour issued the Rules on conditions for performing the activity of employment agencies (Pravilnik o pogojih za opravljanje dejavnosti agencij za zaposlovanje).

2) How is TAW regulated in your country?

a) Is there a legal framework specifically for TAW; and/or is it covered by general labour law (including case law/ jurisprudence)?b) What is the role, if any, of collective labour agreements and self-regulation?

a) Relevant legislative framework for temporary agency work (TAW) in Slovenia is defined in the following laws and regulations: Law on Labour Relations (LLR, 2007), Law on Employment and Unemployment Insurance (LEUI, 2006), Law on Public Agencies (Zakon o javnih agencijah, 2002), Regulations on conditions for performing the activity of employment agencies (2006) and Decree on payments to employment brokerage agencies (Odredba o višini plačila agencijam za posredovanje zaposlitve brezposelni osebi, 2007).

b) There exist no collective labour agreements on TAW.

3) What is regulated in these provisions? In particular, does it cover:

a) use of agency work (e.g. length of assignment, sectoral bans, permitted reasons of use, number of agency workers per company, other)b) the form of the contract (e.g.project, fixed-term, special contract, open ended, etc.)c) social security and social benefitsd) conditions to open a TAW agency (e.g. license or authorisation schemes, supervision by public authorities, financial requirements, or others - please specify)e) business activities/services delivered by TW agencies (e.g. prohibition to provide other services than TAW)?f) third-national companies or temporary agency workers (e.g. activities of foreign agencies)?

a) The Law on Labour Relations (LLR, 2007) regulates the use of agency work in Articles 59 (temporary limitation of work at the user), and in Article 57 (reasons when workers may not be posted to other employer).

b) The employment contract between the agency worker and employer (agency) can be concluded for a definite (fixed-term contract) or indefinite period of time (open ended contract) as defined in Article 58, paragraph (1) of the LLR. The concession contract for employment and work brokerage services with the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs (MDDSZ) may also be concluded for a fixed-time period. In Article 6č of the Law on Employment and Unemployment Insurance (LEUI, 2006) is stated that the period of concession contract shall not exceed one year.

c) During the employment relation, agency workers have the same rights as other employees (social security contributions, insurance contributions, payments on account of income tax). Article 60, paragraphs (2 and 3), of the LLR state that in the employment contract, the employer and the worker shall agree on the level of the wage and the level of wage compensation for the period of a premature cessation of work at the user or for the time when the employer does not provide the work at the user, which may not be lower than 70% of the minimum wage.

d) The conditions to open a TAW agency are regulated by the Regulations on conditions for performing the activity of employment agencies (2006). An agency must meet a number of personnel, organisational and other criteria in order to get the concession (licence) for employment and work brokerage services and/or to enter in the register of temporary employment agencies to become engaged in posting workers to user undertakings to work. The ministry responsible for labour, the Labour Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia (Inšpektorat za delo Republike Slovenije) and other relevant authorities are authorized to perform supervision of TAW.

e) Regulations on conditions for performing the activity of employment agencies in Article 2 define business activities/ services of TAW in terms of employment and work brokerage, including brokerage of temporary and casual work to secondary school pupils and students, employment plan for unemployment persons and implementation of measures of active employment policy.

f) Activities of foreign agencies are regulated by the Regulations on conditions for performing the activity of employment agencies and by the Law on Employment and Unemployment Insurance. In order to provide employment and work brokerage, foreign TAW is obliged to inform minister responsible for labour and to meet the requirements of TAW regulation.

4) Do any regulations (by law and/or collective bargaining in the TAW sector) specify equal treatment rights for agency workers with permanent workers in the user enterprise concerning:

a) payb) trainingc) other terms or conditions of employment?

If yes, please give details

a) The agency workers are guaranteed the same conditions of work, pay and compensation determined by the collective agreements and general acts as comparable employees of the user enterprise. Article 60, paragraph (2) of the LLR states the level of the wage and of the compensation shall depend on the actually performed work with the user, taking into account the collective agreements and general acts that bind individual users. The agency workers continue to be paid between the assignments and their wage could not be lower than 70% of the minimum wage.

b) Training for the agency workers is not mentioned by law.

c) Article 57, paragraph (2) of the Law on Labour Relations states that the employer is not allowed to refer workers to work at another user in some cases which can be determined with the sectoral collective agreement.

5) Do TAW workers have the right to information, consultation and representation?

If yes, please specify the nature/basis.

Yes, according to LLR, temporary agency workers have the same rights as all other workers. The Law on Strike (Zakon o stavki, 1993) (SI0211101F) also applies to all workers, but, according to the representative of the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (Zveza svobodnih sindikatov Slovenije, ZSSS) agency workers are usually not using this right.

6) Is there a control/enforcement mechanism regarding any TAW regulation?

If yes,

a) is there a special labour inspectorate or a bi-partite body governing TAW?b) are there any sanctions/penalties for not respecting the regulations (whether stemming from law and/or collective agreements)?

Yes.

a) The Labour Inspectorate is authorized to perform supervision of TAW. Agencies are required to report annually on their work to the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs.

b) The LEUI defines the sanctions for not respecting the regulations for TAW as a decision of the ministry responsible for labour to withdraw from the concession or to delete the agency from the registry of temporary agencies in cases of violation of regulations and upon the proposal of Labour Inspectorate. Sanctions for not respecting the regulations are also defined in the Act on Labour Inspection (Zakon o inšpekciji dela), Act on Inspection Supervision (Zakon o inšpekcijskem nadzoru), General Administrative Procedure Act (Zakonu o splošnem upravne postopku) and General Offences Act (Zakonu o prekrških).

7) Are there any procedures governing use of TAW and strike breaking?

In particular, can workers on strike be replaced by agency workers?

Article 60, paragraph (2) of the LLR defines, that agency workers are guaranteed the same working conditions and rights, determined by the collective agreements and general acts as comparable employees of the user enterprise. In accordance with the Article 57, paragraph (2), the employer (agency) is prohibited to refer workers to work for another user in case of replacing the workers, employed with the user, who are on strike.

Representative of ZSSS says that between company`s workers and agency workers, working at the same company`s premises, solidarity develops when strike is being organized.

Section 3. Social dialogue and collective bargaining

1) Is there any employers’ association(s) for TAW firms in your country?

If yes, please provide any data on membership (e.g. sectoral coverage of firms/workers)

Yes, just recently, interest Association of Temporary Work Agencies (Združenje agencij za zaposlovanje, ZAZ) has been renewed. Twenty the largest temporary work agencies established ZAZ 7 years ago and according to its representative, g.Šket, changes in economy and lack of workforce at labor market demand from TW agencies a common approach.

Formally TW agencies are not organized separately, but are members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije, GZS) and Slovene Employers Association (Združenje delodajalcev Slovenije, ZDS).

2) Is there any union(s) specifically for agency workers?

If no, have any unions or confederations targeted the recruitment of agency workers? launched any campaigns around agency workers’ rights?

No, workers employed by TAW could be individual members of trade unions, but according to the representative of ZSSS, they are not using this right. Representatives of ZSSS and Confederation of Trade Unions of Slovenia Pergam (Konfederacija sindikatov Slovenije Pergam) say that there are no special strategies or campaigns to recruit agency workers, since unions do not differentiate agency workers from other workers, because, according to LLR, they all have the same rights and obligations. The only strategy that unions practice is the one connected to equal rights of all workers and therefore, trade unions at companies pay attention whether agency worker`s rights are being respected.

3) Collective bargaining levels

Is TAW governed by collective bargaining at:

a) intersectoral/ national level?b) the sectoral level for TAW?c) company (ie. temporary agency firm) level?

If yes, please provide details of the parties concerned.

There exists no collective bargaining concerning TAW.

4) Collective bargaining outcomes

There exists no collective bargaining concerning TAW.

5) Are there any examples of sector- or company-level collective agreements in other sectors that restrict, permit or otherwise regulate the use of TAW within their domain?

No.

6) Please provide any data concerning:

a) trade union density for agency workers b) the coverage of collective bargaining within the sector.

    Section 4. Employment and working conditions of TA workers

    1) Please provide the most recent data (averages) on TAW employment

    a) longevity of TAW employment, i.e. how long workers remain employed

    - in the sector?

    - with a particular agency?

    b) duration of TAW placements, i.e. i.e. the length of assignment in a user company.

    a) According to representative of Pergam, agency workers remain employed in the sector under one year and according to representative of ZAZ and Adecco, the longevity of employment is between 6 to 8 months. These workers are mostly lower educated workers. At Adecco agency say, that workers remain employed at their agency on average for 6 months.

    b) According to the representative of Pergam, agency workers, mostly lower educated workers, are employed in the user company up to one year. Also representative of ZSSS confirms that agency workers are employed at company user from 6 to 12 months and almost half of them later become permanently employed by the same company, while representative of Adecco says that agency workers stay employed at the user from 3 to 6 months. According to the representatives of employer associations, most of agency workers are employed with a user company for a longer period of time and one third remains employed later at the user company. According to the Article 59 of LLR, the duration of TAW placements is in case of continuous performance of the same work by the same worker limited to one year.

    2) Please provide any evidence from official, academic and social partner sources concerning:

    a) the reasons for user companies’ usage of TAW, including any differences by sector, occupation, firm size etc.b) reasons for workers participation in the sector and levels of satisfaction, including any differences by age, sex, education etc.

    [a) According to employer representatives, TAW is useful for companies for several reasons: lack of time to find the appropriate workers and for the recruitment, it is difficult for companies to predict the future amount and nature of work, lack of workforce at labor market, brokerage costs for agency service are lower than would be at human resource department in company, when projects in companies depend on dead lines and some unpredictable demands arise for additional work. Agency workers are mostly needed in international companies, in large companies and in companies that have difficulties to find appropriate workforce, especially in industry, commerce and logistics sectors. According to the representative of government, the number of temporary work agencies and also the number of workers employed at agencies is recently increasing, mostly due to the nature and increased amount of work

    b) According to representatives of employers and trade unions, employees have with the help of agency more chances to find a job and most of them find a permanent employment later at the user company. At ZAZ report that hey have not received any complaints from their temporary workers. Most agencies in employment contract agree with workers on the wage level that is not below the minimum wage. Representative of agency Adecco states, that agency work is most appropriate for persons who are first time job seekers and for those who are re-entering the labour market after a longer time, especially since TW agencies are familiar with local markets.

    In comparison to data on TAW from 2005 (SI0506204T), the number of agency workers has risen for 100% (from 3695 workers to 6,521 workers; data from MDDSZ). In 2004, demands for TAW came from automobile, electro, chemical and rubber industries, while in 2008 demands come from several sectors; industry, commerce, logistics and especially construction sector. According to ZSSS, the worst working conditions (working time, pay) exist in construction. In 2004, TW agencies reported that mostly qualified workers and some administrative office workers were needed, while in 2008, there is a lack of workforce for physical and low qualified work.

    3) In practice, which rules and procedures may apply to temporary-agency workers in contrast to other workers in the user company?

    Agency workers are, according to representatives of trade unions, in practice differently treated than permanent workers in terms of wage, health and working conditions and working time. They work longer hours and are more exposed to risks and unhealthy conditions. They receive only what is defined under the law; wage without any bonuses, recourse (holiday bonuse) and have a right for annual leave. Also representative of ZAZ stated that the problem of different treat of agency workers derives from the LLR, where reimbursement of work-related expenses is not explicitly determined. So in practice, agency workers receive lower wages than company workers.

    Section 5. The extent and composition of TAW.

    1) For 2004 and 2007, please state

    a) the number of agency workers b) total revenues of the TAW sector

    a) According to data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (Statistični urad Republike Slovenije, SURS) there were 2445 temporary agency workers in year 2004. Legal entities employed 2411 agency workers and private individuals employed 34 agency workers. In year 2007, there were 4874 agency workers; 4695 workers were employed at legal entities and 179 at private individuals.

    b) In year 2004, temporary agency workers presented 0.32% of the persons in employment (774,266) and in 2007 agency workers presented 0.58% of persons in employment (830,882). The number of temporary agency workers increased from 2004 to 2007 for 100%.

    2) What proportion of the TAW workforce is currently

    a) male/ female?b) full/part time?c) young (<c. 25) or older (>c. 50) workers?

    Data on the proportion of the TAW workforce is available for year 2007.

    a) There were 2280 women and 2594 men employed as agency workers

    b) Full time employment had 836 agency workers and 4038 workers were employed part time.

    c) Young workers (under 25) presented 1053 agency workers and 381 agency workers were older than 50 years.

    3) Has there been any changes to the TAW sector in terms of

    a) concentration, i.e. proportion of employees or turnover accounted for by the largest firms?b) internationalisation, i.e. number/significance of multinational TAW firms?

    a) According to employer and trade union representatives and government, a higher proportion of agency workers are employed by the largest firms. Multinational companies employ agency workers more often, because they have more rigid employment plans. At ZDS say there is a minimal rise of agency workers especially in deficit occupations, while agency Adecco reports are no special changes in concentration of agency workers or significance of multinational TAW firms.

    b) There are no multinational TAW firms in Slovenia.

    4) What is your evaluation of the availability and quality of statistical data concerning TAW in your country?

    Statistical data concerning TAW is available at Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia and at Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs (MDDSZ). Some estimation on the relative importance of TAW in Slovenia could be also given on the basis of data from the biggest employment agencies (Adecco, Atama), but it is difficult to find detailed statistics on Taw. Especially since TAW presents only 0.75% of persons in employment (6521 workers) (data for 2007, MDDSZ).

    Commentary by the NC

    All social partners agree that the Law on Labour Relations defines basic rights of temporary agency workers. The government and employer associations are of opinion that TAW is important for more flexible labour market and higher employability of those seeking for work.

    Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS) is more critical to the use of temporary agency work, since it more presents a useful tool for companies` flexibility than for providing jobs to workers. Companies with a need to employ workers should, according to the Law on Labour Relations, employ workers at their premises, instead of hiring agency workers for lower costs of work. According to trade unions, agency workers are not in favourable position regarding working conditions because they are employed at agency and have only basic rights, defined under the law.

    On the other hand, representative of Association of Temporary Work Agencies (ZAZ) says, that a big problem presents a growing number of agencies that provide temporary and casual work to secondary school pupils and students. At ZAZ estimate that the number of hours of student work would cover around 40,000 full-time jobs. According to the representative of ZAZ, the sectoral level of TAW is not adequately regulated, so discussion on establishment of subsection of TAW at the Slovene Employers Association (ZDS) is going on at the moment. The development of TW agencies also depends on the ability of providing work to foreign workers. According to the government representative, this is only possible when foreign workers obtain a work permit for 3 years which is often not the case.

    Representatives of trade unions and employer associations expressed opinion that an additional social agreement to define agency worker`s rights more explicitly would be in place, so they have high expectancy upon the EU-level regulation.

    Representative of ZAZ stressed that collective agreement on TAW would regulate better working conditions for agency workers, while trade union confederations said that all worker have the same rights and therefore they are not in favour of differentiating between temporary agency workers and other workers. Trade unions support the regulation of TAW at the national level, especially by implementing more control over the working conditions of agency workers.

    Barbara Luzar, Organizational and Human Resources Research Centre, Faculty of Social Sciences, Ljubljana

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