Industrial relations

Slovakia: Latest developments in working life Q3 2019

Higher salaries for teachers and changes in their working conditions, further extensions of multi-employer collective agreements, further difficulties in the steel sector and a better work–life balance for the parents of young children are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Slovakia in the third quarter of 2019.

Teachers to get better pay and working conditions

Teachers in Slovakia have been demanding higher salaries and better working conditions for a long time, and the government recently responded to their requests by issuing a series of measures.

From 1 September 2019, Act No. 224/2019 came into force. This act increases the wages of pedagogical and professional employees across the entire scale. The increase is a continuation of the previous wage increase for employees in the educational sector. [1] More specifically, the act:

  • increases the starting wage for new employees in the sector (9.5% higher than in January 2019)
  • changes the system of increasing wage scales depending on the length of practice
  • replaces the credit bonus with a bonus for professional development
  • changes the amount of these bonuses
  • changes the method of advancement to a higher wage level for university teachers and research and development employees.

On 10 May 2019, the parliament passed Act No. 138/2019 on pedagogical employees and professional employees. Its aim is to increase the attractiveness of working in the educational sector by offering better wages, creating suitable working conditions and supporting the improvement of job quality. The most significant changes since 1 September 2019 include:

  • the introduction of the right to protection from mobbing and bullying
  • the introduction of a code of ethics
  • a new procedure for assessing qualifications and grading careers
  • an age limit of 65 years.

 

Multi-employer collective agreements

On 8 August 2019, an announcement from the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic about four new representative multi-employer collective agreements was published in the statute book. These agreements are in the glass, electrical engineering, bus transportation, and construction industries.

Representative multi-employer collective agreements came into effect in September 2017 and are crucial for the extension of sectoral collective agreements. [2] So far, 13 representative sectoral collective agreements have been extended in six sectors (as well as the four mentioned above, these include the mechanical engineering and metallurgy sector and the mining and geology sector). The Metal Trade Union Association (OZ KOVO) (10) and the Integrated Trade Union Association (IOZ) (3) have the most extended representative collective agreements. Six employer organisations have signed those agreements.

Steel industry in crisis

Difficulties continue in the steel industry. Production has been reduced at US Steel Košice (USSK) and a four-day working week was recently introduced. [3] In addition, USSK management announced it would be reducing the company’s staff by 2,500 employees by the end of 2021. [4]

USSK management and OZ KOVO have agreed on amendments to the company’s collective agreement, including criteria and conditions for the earlier voluntary leave of employees who have been made redundant. Hundreds of redundant employees are expected to leave the company voluntarily in the next quarter.

Job subsidies for working parents of young children

On 2 September 2019, the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (UPSVaR) published a call for proposals for financial contributions to support job creation for jobseekers. The call was part of the national project ‘Reconciliation of Family Life and Work’, which is an initiative that is based on the government’s policy statement and supported by the European Social Fund (ESF).

A total of €11.05 million has been allocated for this project and it is due to be implemented by August 2022. Companies that create jobs for women (preferably) or men who have parental duties for children under the age of six can ask the labour offices for grants. This measure should create better opportunities for parents to return to the labour market.

The project mainly focuses on flexible and atypical jobs, such as part-time work, telework and job sharing. Employers in all regions except for the Bratislava Region are eligible to apply for funding. The target group is jobseekers who have been registered with the UPSVaR for at least three months and the project is expected to provide around 1,000 of these jobseekers with employment. The financial contribution is provided for a maximum of 12 months, depending on the duration of the contract. Contributions will be reimbursed up to 95% of the total cost of the job, up to a maximum of €844, which is 1.2 times the minimum wage.

Outlook

At present, social dialogue in Slovakia is developing in the context of slowing economic growth and difficulties in the steel industry. Based on the announcement of USSK on late July, it is anticipated that 2,500 workers in the steel industry will lose their jobs by the end of 2021. USSK management and the trade union OZ Kovo have agreed on amendments to the company collective agreement, including criteria and conditions for earlier voluntary leave of employees made redundant.


Footnotes

  1. ^ Eurofound (2019), Slovakia: Latest working life developments Q4 2018 .
  2. ^ Eurofound (2018), Slovakia: Latest working life developments – Q1 2018.
  3. ^ Eurofound (2019), Slovakia: Latest developments in working life Q2 2019.
  4. ^ Pravda (2019), U.S. Steel Košice plánuje prepustiť do konca roka 2021 až 2 500 zamestnancov , 19 July.

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