Slovakia: Survey charts fall in union representation, bargaining and member benefits

This report provides information on selected data monitored by the Information System on Working Conditions (ISPP) sample survey for Slovakia 2008–11. The proportion of organisations with employee representatives and covered by collective agreements in the survey decreased during this period. The average agreed growth of wage tariffs or nominal wages fell between 2008 and 2010. Higher wage increases were agreed in 2011 but the share of organisations involved decreased significantly. Similar trends have been seen in severance pay and discharge benefit agreements above the statutory minimum levels. Compared to 2008, a slight increase in average weekly working time was recorded for 2009–11.

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Introduction

Since 1992, the Information System on Working Conditions (ISPP) monitors the conditions of employment, working conditions, occupational safety and health (OSH) costs and forms of company social policy in Slovakia. The ISPP was devised (simultaneously with quarterly survey of the Information System of Labour Costs, ISCP), as a unique regular annual sample survey, by statistical survey company Trexima under the coordination of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (MPSVR SR). Other institutions also help to prepare the data. These include the Slovak Statistical Office (ŠÚ SR), Ministry of Economy (MH SR), Ministry of the Interior (MV SR), Ministry of Construction and Regional Development (MVRR SR), the University of Economics in Bratislava (EU), Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), Institute of Labour and Family Research (IVPR), Federation of Employers’ Associations of the Slovak Republic (AZZZ SR), Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic (KOZ SR), National Union of Employers (RUZ SR) and the individual trade union and employer associations. The ISPP is implemented in accordance both with the Slovak labour legislation as well as with the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Methodology

The ISPP collects data via regular cross-sectoral annual sample survey in a set of selected reporting units from all sectors of the economy and regions of the country. The units include organisations and companies of different types and sizes – in private, public, domestic and foreign ownership, and SMEs as well as large companies. Data are collected through a unified questionnaire entitled ‘Annual statement on working conditions and company social policy costs’ (Ročný výkaz o pracovných podmienkach a nákladoch na podnikovú sociálnu politiku V (MPSVR) 6-01). Questionnaires are delivered to organisations in the sample by post and are completed by the appropriate representatives, usually managers, OSH specialists and representatives of employees. Single-employer collective agreements and the employers’ accounting records are the main resources used for data collection. Completed questionnaires are returned either by post or electronically. In 2011, almost 70% of organisations returned the questionnaire electronically. The number of organisations and number of employees included in the sample survey varied from year to year. The sample usually covered around 30–35% of the total employment in the economy. In order to increase the representativeness and the reliability of the survey, Trexima tries to increase the number of involved organisations each year, as far as possible.

ISPP provides information on the actual situation of employers, both those with trade unions or employee councils in place and those with no employee representatives. Company collective agreements cover all trade unions that are members of KOZ SR. Information collected within the annual sample survey is usually divided into the following main topics.

  • Characteristics of the sample.
  • Employee representatives, collective bargaining and activities of trade unions.
  • Remuneration of employees.
  • Working time.
  • Occupational safety and health costs.
  • Company social policy.

This survey data report provides information on selected issues covered by these main ISPP topics between 2008 and 2011. This period was selected because it monitors the situation of employers in Slovakia before the economic crisis in 2008, during the most difficult part of the crisis, particularly in 2009 and during the partial recovery of 2010–11.

 

Characteristics of the sample

The number of organisations included in the ISPP in the 2008–11 period increased from 3,502 organisations in 2008 to 5,088 in 2011. The total number of employees covered by the survey also rose until in 2010–11 it covered 33–34% of total employment in the economy. The relatively high coverage of workers has a positive impact on the representativeness of the ISPP data. Table 1 describes the sample of the sample survey in the particular years surveyed.





Table 1: Sample of organisations covered by surveys

Indicator

2008

2009

2010

2011

Number of organisations

3,502

3,647

4,502

5,088

Number of covered workforce

750,958

662,615

764,491

809,503

Share of the total employment in the economy

31%

28%

33%

34%

Source: ISPP, 2008–11

Employee representation, collective bargaining and union activity

In most of the organisations included in the ISPP sample, employees have been represented by a trade union or a works council. During the reporting period, however, there has been a decline in the proportion of organisations with employee representatives in place, from 65% of organisations in 2008 to 50% in 2011. Representation of employees by a trade union declined and the proportion of enterprises with trade unions fell from almost 44% in 2008 to about 32% in 2011. The same trend was seen for representation of employees by a works council, with the exception of 2009. Since 2010, the proportion of organisations in which employees have not been represented either by trade unions or works councils has been rising.

In about 75% of the organisations in the sample, employees have been covered by some kind of collective agreement. In 34–35% of organisations, employees have been covered by single-employer company-level collective agreements, and in about 37–40% of the enterprises they have been covered by multi-employer sectoral collective agreements. Only a slight decline in the proportion of enterprises with concluded company-level collective agreement was recorded for the period covered by the study. With the exception of 2010, the data revealed a slight decrease in the coverage of sectoral collective agreements.





Table 2: Employee representation and collective bargaining (%)

 Indicator

2008

2009

2010

2011

Organisations with trade unions

43.6

42.1

36.2

32.3

Organisations with works councils

19.2

23.3

18.9

17.3

Organisations without employee representatives

37.2

34.6

44.9

50.4

Organisations with company-level collective agreements

35.8

34.0

34.6

34.1

Organisations covered by multi-employer collective agreements

40.4

38.1

36.9

38.1

Source: ISPP, 2008–11

The conditions for the activity of trade unions in the surveyed organisations have not changed significantly over the period covered by the study. More significant changes have occurred in the proportion of organisations in which the rent of facilities for trade unions was paid by the employer. This may indicate that the worsening economic situation of enterprises during the economic crisis has had an impact in this field as well. The share of organisations, in which the activity of the trade union chair used to be paid by the employer or by the trade union, has also decreased. This trend may be associated with the impact of the crisis which, among other factors, has been also reflected in the decrease in the number of members of the trade unions and their available resources. At the same time, the share of organisations in which the activity of the trade union chair was carried out without remuneration has increased in the surveyed period. Table 3 provides more detailed information about these trends.





Table 3: Operation of trade unions in surveyed organisations (%)

Indicator

2008

2009

2010

2011

Trade unions are in place in organisation

75.1

73.2

78.1

80.6

Unions in rented office paid by employer

38.5

34.5

34.0

30.8

Trade union chair paid by employer

12.8

11.9

10.1

10.0

Trade union chair paid by trade union

17.2

16.1

15.7

14.9

Chairs’ activities not paid

70.0

72.0

73.1

75.1

Source: ISPP, 2008–11

The trade unions also provide financial contributions to their members for various purposes from their own resources. Table 4 presents an overview of the activities for which trade unions paid their members in the sample organisations. The data show that, except for the social assistance to members in social need, there has been a decline since 2008 in the proportion of trade unions providing financial assistance. This indicates that the financial crisis has also affected the social situation of employees who needed assistance from trade unions. The largest decline was recorded in events organised for children (almost 10%). Furthermore, there has been a decrease in the contributions of trade unions to cultural and sports activities and education (3.5%). Table 4 presents a more detailed breakdown of the assistance delivered by trade unions, by various activities for the period studied.





Table 4: Organisations receiving trade union benefits for members (%)

Benefit

2008

2009

2010

2011

Social assistance

54.8

53.5

55.2

54.7

Recreation

40.8

39.6

38.2

39.4

Life anniversaries

62.4

60.8

60.0

61.7

Education

18.5

15.8

16.6

15.0

Culture and sports activities

64.0

60.5

59.9

60.5

Organisation of events for children

48.4

44.2

39.7

38.9

Health care

22.5

20.7

22.3

21.9

Source: ISPP, 2008–11

Remuneration of employees

Wage increases in the sample organisations have been agreed either in the form of increased wage tariffs or increase in the nominal wages of employees. The ISPP data indicate that the economic crisis had a significant impact on wage growth. The average growth of wage tariffs ranged from 5.5% in 2008 to 2.2% in 2010. The average growth rate of nominal wages ranged from 6.3% to 3.5% in the same period. In 2011, when the economy was showing signs of partial recovery, average increases were agreed for wage tariffs of 3.5%, and 3.7% for nominal wages. Nevertheless, the proportion of organisations in which wage increases were agreed declined. The percentage of organisations that increased wage tariffs dropped from almost 37% in 2008 to less then 14% in 2011, and those increasing nominal wages dropped from almost 17% in 2008 to less than 10% in 2011. In the surveyed organisations, severance pay and discharge benefits higher than the minimum required by the Labour Code have been agreed. In 28.5–23.3% of the sample organisations, severance pay is on average between 2.2 and 2.4 times higher than the legal minimum. The data show a similar trend for the agreed discharge benefits for retiring employees. More information on the development of these indicators is provided in Table 5.





Table 5: Agreed wage increases, severance pay and discharge benefits

 Indicator

2008

2009

2010

2011

Average wage tariffs increase

5.5%

5.5%

2.2%

3.5%

Share of organisations

36.7%

23.5%

27.2%

13.5%

Average nominal wage increase

6.3%

5.4%

3.5%

3.7%

Share of organisations

16.8%

9.5%

11.1%

9.6%

Severance pay above the legal miminum

2.4 times

2.2 times

2.2 times

2.4 times

Share of organisations

28.5%

26.2%

26.4%

23.3%

Discharge benefits above the legal minimum

1.7 times

1.7 times

1.5 times

1.56 times

Share of organisations

26.1%

23.9%

25.0%

23.6%

Source: ISPP, 2008–11

The ISPP also provides information on the amount of various wage supplements provided to employees in addition to their tariff wage. These are supplements for additional hours or unusual working time such as overtime work, work on Saturdays, Sundays, on bank holidays, or a combination of two or more of these situations. Wage supplements are usually expressed as proportion of the average wages of the employees concerned although in a smaller number of organisations, wage supplements are expressed as proportion of their tariff wages.

The amount of agreed wage supplements expressed as a share of average wages has changed little, rarely exceeding 1%.

However, the percentage of organisations in which the actual amount of wage supplements was agreed in advance has decreased. The proportion of organisations where wage supplement figures for overtime work and work on bank holidays were agreed has declined most significantly, by more than 15%. This suggests that perhaps during the years of the economic crisis, employers’ need for overtime and irregular working hours has declined. Table 6 shows average amount of selected wage supplements agreed in the sample organisations.





Table 6: Wage supplements as a share of average wages (%)

 Nature of supplements

2008

2009

2010

2011

For overtime work

26.8

26.9

26.6

26.9

Share of organisations surveyed

53.9

50.2

42.0

38.2

For working on Saturdays

37.9

37.3

37.6

37.2

Share of organisations surveyed

26.4

24.0

19.9

18.1

For working on Sundays

43.8

44.2

42.9

43.0

Share of organisations surveyed

26.9

24.8

20.1

18.7

For working on bank holidays

82.7

81.4

81.9

82.5

Share of organisations surveyed

51.6

47.5

40.2

36.2

Source: ISPP, 2008–2011

Working time

The average weekly working time of employees in the surveyed organisations has varied slightly. For standard one-shift operations it the average was around 39 hours. A slight increase in average weekly working time was recorded for 2009–11 compared to 2008. This may indicate the effort of the employers to operate with a smaller number of employees by increasing their weekly working time. On the other hand, over the surveyed period, the share of organisations using flexible daily or weekly working time has declined from almost 34% in 2008 to less than 30% in 2011. Overtime has fluctuated, and the average number of overtime hours per employee ordered by the employer decreased in 2009 compared to 2008, and then increased in 2010 and to the highest level for the whole period covered by this study. In 2011, however, it fell again. Even so, the level of overtime was higher in 2011 than in either 2008 or 2009. The average amount of overtime hours per employee worked with the employee’s consent shows a similar trend. The share of organisations in which agreed holiday entitlement was above the legal miminum set by the Labour Code has also varied, but with only a slight decline in 2009–10. More particulars are provided in Table 7.





Table 7: Working time, overtime and holidays

 Indicator

2008

2009

2010

2011

Average weekly working time (one-shift) in hours

38.4

39.0

38.9

39.0

Share of organisations with flexible working time

33.9%

33.0%

30.8%

29.8%

Average overtime per employee ordered by employer (hours)

52.1

45.3

56.7

49.6

Average overtime per employee with employees’ consent (hours)

58.5

54.9

63.0

59.8

Share of organisations with annual holidays above the legal minimum

23.6%

22.7%

22.3%

23.4%

Annual holidays above the legal minimum - average number of days

(n.a) 

 (n.a)

(5.1) 

 (5)

Source: ISPP, 2008–2011

Occupational safety and health costs

The ISPP provides data on costs related to conditions for occupational safety and health (OSH) in surveyed organisations. OSH-related costs fluctuated in 2008–10. With the exception of OSH training, costs decreased significantly in 2009 when the economic crisis peaked. In 2010, when a partial recovery was underway, these costs increased mainly as a result of the increased costs of provision of appropriate working conditions and working environment. Much of the increase was related to improved thermal insulation of buildings and the installation of better window constructions. The costs of providing preventive and protective services increase significantly each year as a result of more stringent adherence to OSH legislation. This is partly because of intensified enforcement of legal provisions by the National Labour Inspectorate (NIP). Other costs almost doubled in 2010. They include, for instance, the costs of reviews, inspections and testing of selected technical equipment, provision of beverages to employees to ensure proper water intake, the rental for rooms for the compulsory training of employees, payment for preventive medical examination, purchase of professional literature and materials covering legal regulations, participation in conferences and seminars, and the purchase of necessary measurement and monitoring equipment. Table 8 shows selected details of the structure of OSH costs.




Table 8: OSH-related costs in €m

Indicator

2008

2009

2010

Working conditions and working environment

127.72

113.24

168.11

Personal protective equipments

50.78

48.95

51.47

OSH training

6.87

10.76

9.60

Preventive and protective services

15.39

34.50

45.64

Other costs

4.02

4.02

8.90

Note: data for 2011 not yet available

Source: ISPP, 2008–2011

Company social policy

The ISPP data also provide information about benefits provided by the employers to their employees. This form of compensation is provided by the employer voluntarily beyond the mandatory benefits. The most commonly provided benefits include discounted products, medical examinations, company cars, company mobile phones and computer equipment and permission to use such items for private purposes, and the lending of technical equipment for private purposes. Table 9 indicates that the share of employers providing special benefits to employees in almost all items has decreased between 2008–11. The largest decline was recorded for the company provision of mobile phones or mobile computers for private purposes, with 56.3% of employers providing this benefit in 2008 and only 29.9% of employers in 2011. A slight decrease has been recorded for the benefits medical examinations and lending of technical equipment for private purposes. More information about the most frequently provided company benefits is available in the table 9.





Table 9 Share of organisations providing benefits for employees (%)

Benefits

2008

2009

2010

2011

Discounted products

14.8

14.5

14.6

13.5

Medical examinations

62.1

61.4

62.9

58.6

Company car

26.6

24.5

24.9

22.8

Company mobile phone or notebook*

56.3

55.9

30.4

29.9

Lending of technical equipment for private purposes

n.a.

13.8

12.9

12.0

Note: *Until 2009 the provision of mobile phones was monitored; from 2010 the provision of notebooks has been monitored.

Source: ISPP, 2008–2011

The ISPP provides information about the Social Fund, an important tool to implement the social policy of a company. It is used for the provision of a variety of services for employees, primarily of social nature. A Social Fund is created by employers for their employees and its operation is governed by legislation, funded by the employer setting aside a sum equivalent to a certain percentage of the total annual paybill. The most common purposes of the fund include provision of canteen meals, recreational activities, and rehabilitation services for employees after illness. Increasingly, between 2008 and 2011, funds were dedicated to the provision of canteens. The trend was to gradually reduce the amount spent on other purposes in the same period. Table 10 provides selected data about the most significant purposes for which Social Funds were used in surveyed organisations.





Table 10: Most common use of company Social Funds (%)

Selected purposes

2008

2009

2010

2011

Recreation

6.9

5.6

4.5

5.5

Services for the rehabilitation of employees after illness

19.2

19.7

17.1

14.3

Provision of canteen meals

32.5

30.9

34.9

38.3

Individual loans for employees

5.1

3.2

3.2

3.1

Source: ISPP, 2008–11

Commentary

The ISPP is an important source of information for trade union and employer organisations and also serves as a basis for sectoral and company collective bargaining. It is a source of reliable information for the ILO, for instance in assessing the implementation of the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention. Data on the coverage of employees by collective agreements and the employment of young people are submitted for the annual report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Data on agreed working and social conditions in collective agreements and on the influence of wage bargaining on wage levels are delivered to the European Commission. Data on agreed weekly working time are delivered to the European Committee of Social Rights. Data on agreed wage increases in collective agreements contribute to tripartite consultations at the Economic and Social Council of the Slovak Republic (HSR).

References

  • Informačný systém o pracovných podmienkach 2008 [Information System on Working Conditions 2008], Trexima Bratislava, s.r.o. MPSVR SR 2008.
  • Informačný systém o pracovných podmienkach 2009 [Information System on Working Conditions 2009], Trexima Bratislava, s.r.o. MPSVR SR 2009.
  • Informačný systém o pracovných podmienkach 2010 [Information System on Working Conditions 2010], Trexima Bratislava, s.r.o. MPSVR SR 2010.
  • Informačný systém o pracovných podmienkach 2011, [Information System on Working Conditions 2011], Trexima Bratislava, s.r.o. MPSVR SR 2011.

Ludovit Cziria, Teodor Hatina, Miroslava Kordošová and Miroslav Novotný, Institute for Labour and Family Research

EF/12/12

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