Working time in the European Union: Slovakia

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 15 November 2009

Viera Škvarková

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The average number of weekly working hours has decreased by 3.6% in 2000-6. The lowest average of hours worked off was in 2003-4 (40.0 hours). The changes in the national labour legislation had a positive impact upon the total decrease of number of hours worked. In Slovakia, mainly the traditional work organisation has been implemented, i.e. full time work with fixed working hours. Part-time work has been used only by about 3% of employees. Only about 10% women and 12% men use flexible working time arrangement. Shift-work belongs to widely used forms of employment. Recently, legislation allowed also homework and telework.

The national contributions collects data inter alia from; firstly the EU Labour Force Survey which covers average hours worked by men and women employees both overall and in part-time and full-time jobs, the proportion of men and women in part-time jobs and the relative number of men and women employed under different arrangements as regards working time. Secondly, from the Fourth European Working Conditions Survey conducted by the European Foundation which covers other aspects of working time, including the number of days worked per week, evening, night and weekend working, the organisation of working time, the proportion of people with second jobs, the time spent commuting as well as on unpaid work.

These data are intended to form the basis of the replies to the questions asked but other relevant data have been used where available to supplement these.

Duration of work

Average weekly hours

Does the evidence from the above surveys, and other sources, indicate that, over the past five or ten years, employees are working fewer hours in your country?

In Slovakia, the average working time is slightly higher than in EU15 countries. However, the decrease in number of hours worked off had been quite significant in the last years. In 2000-6 the average number of hours worked per week by employees has decreased by 3.6%. In 2003-4, the employees worked in average only 40.0 hours per week and in 2006 it was 40.4 hours. The most significant decrease of hours worked off concerned part-time work – in men by 14.5% and women by 8.3%. Even though men usually work longer hours than women, at the part-time work it is vice-versa.

Is there evidence that any such decline in average working time is due more to compositional changes (e.g. more women entering the labour market and working part-time) than to an across-the-board reduction in hours?

The decrease in the average working time was caused by a total reduction of hours worked off. The share of men and women employees working part-time increased by about one percentage point in 2000-6. That could (mainly with the current decrease in the number of weekly working hours) partially impact also the decrease in the length of average working time. However, due to a generally low share of part-time work it is not possible to identify this clearly.

Is there evidence that any fall in average hours over these periods may be due to a reduction in the number of people working very long hours – over 48 per week?

According to the data available, the decrease of the number of average hours worked in the reported period was probably not caused by the decrease in number of people working long hours. Approximately 20% of employed in the economy (13.4% employees and 6.6% self-employed) worked in average more than 48 hours per week in their main job. In 2000-6 the share of self-employed (number of hours worked by them is significantly higher when compared with the employees) of working people has increased - from 8.0% to 12.1%. Except of the transport sector, the total number of people working long hours has increased (building industry, hotels and restaurants, private households with family workers). That could cause a slight increase of the average working time recorded in 2005-6.

Is there evidence that this has been due, to any extent, to the adoption of the EU working time Directive?

The EU Directive is being fully implemented in Slovakia only at present. Changes in the national legislation, implemented mainly in 2002-3, have had a positive impact upon decrease of working hours. The weekly working time of an employee, as well as the maximum allowed working time including over time work, have decreased, breaks for refreshment and relax are not included in the working hours, etc.

Annual hours worked

To what extent is the notion of annual working time (calculated to take account of annual holidays, including public holidays, as well as average weekly hours) in common use in political or everyday discussion, or in social partner negotiations?

At present, the number of hours worked per year is not a topic of political discussions and negotiations of the social partners. Slovak labour legislation defines only weekly working time.

Is there any evidence that the number of weeks worked per year has declined over the past five or ten years due to increased holidays, or time off for other purposes?

The basic paid holiday was increased by one week in 1996. After 2002 the employees´ right to paid time-off due to personal reasons/obstructions was partially restricted. The number of public holidays did not change significantly. The number of companies has increased that provide extra holidays (according to their collective agreements) above the statutory level. This could have a certain impact upon the decrease of the number of hours worked annually. In 2000, it was 15.3% companies and in 2006 23.3% from the total number of enterprises included in the company survey on working conditions realised by the Trexima Bratislava.

Days of work per week

Is the five-day week the predominant norm, as opposed to other patterns – four days, four and a half-days, five and a half-days, six days?

When compared with other forms, the five days working week is a prevailing norm of organisation of weekly working days in Slovakia. Approximately 73.1% of employed people usually work five days a week in their main job. In total 15.9% of the employed people work six days a week.

Are there any obvious trends in this respect – for example, to reduce the number of days worked per week, but to increase the number of hours worked each day?

No, there have not been any discussions in this area. Also the social partners did not demand any changes in the number of working days and in the length of weekly working time during commenting the last amendment to the Labour Code (entered into effect on 1 September 2007).

Full-time and part-time working

Has part-time working grown relative to full-time working over the past five or ten years?

When compared with the majority of other EU countries, part-time work is significantly less used in Slovakia. The share of employees working part-time was 2.9% of the total number of employees in 2006. That is one percentage point less than in 2000.

There is not a big interest in part-time work. Such form of work really suits only to 27.5% of the part-time workers. 21.5% of the part-time workers perform this form of work on demand of the employer (due to potential redundancies), health is the main reason for 18.5%, and 12.5% of part-time workers are unable to find a suitable full-time job.

Are there major gender differences in the patterns of part-time working?

In 2000, the share of women working part-time was 2.9 % on the total number of employed women, and it was 4.7% in 2006. There was only a slight increase of the share of men working part-time - from 1.0% to 1.4%. The most frequent reasons (about 29% of all cases) for using part-time work were: this form of work is suitable (women), is used mainly of health reasons (men).

Does the government encourage part-time working, either ‘passively’ (i.e. through the workings of social security or taxation rules) or ‘actively’ (e.g. in the sense of particular incentives being offered)?

In order to achieve growth in employment and improvements in reconciliation of work and family life, the Slovak Government supports the strategy of implementation of flexible forms of working time, including part-time work. Documents of the Government like “The National Action Plan for Women, Strategy of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, National Action Plan on employment” encourage employers to widely use flexible forms of working schedules. Better protection of part-time workers, laid down in the last amendments to the Labour Code in 2007, as well as income tax-exemption in case the income is lower than the limit defined by the law, are meant to motivate employees.

Collective bargaining

What are the main working time concerns and priorities of trade unions in collective bargaining?

Mainly the length and distribution of the working time is subject of collective bargaining. From 2003, reduced working time was agreed in collective agreements for civil servants and public servants. However, less attention has been paid to implementation of different flexible forms of working time.

Is part-time working generally viewed positively, or accepted reluctantly, by trade unions?

Trade unions have a positive attitude towards part-time work as they understand the importance of this form of work for maintaining the employment in enterprises. The trade unions´ effort concentrates upon ensuring satisfactory security of part-time workers.

Work schedules

The working day and working week

To what extent does the standard ‘full-time’ working day – 08.00/09.00 to 17.00/18.00 - prevail as the norm?

In total, 72.5% of employed people do not work in shifts, 65.8% of them work the same number of days every week, and 57.9% of employed work the same number of hours every day. This indicates that about 60% of employed people have equally distributed working time and, according to the Labour Code, the daily working time cannot exceed nine hours. The start and end of the working time is set up by the employer (after reaching agreement with the employees´ representative or directly with the employee). The morning shift work should not start before 6.00. Working time starting from 8.00/9.00 to 17.00/18.00 is typical mainly for administrative workers.

To what extent does the ‘standard time norm’ of the working week (40 hour, 5 day week) prevail?

A standard working week (40 hours and five days) is the dominant form of working time distribution in Slovakia. According to the statistical data, 73.1% of employed people usually work five days a week and 36.9% of the employed use to work in average from 39 to 41 hours per week in their main job. According to the labour legislation, the employer is obliged (as long as the conditions of operation allow it) to distribute the working time of an employee (maximum 40 hours per week) principally into five working days per week.

Non-standard work arrangements

To what extent are non-standard working time arrangements – evening, night and week-end work - mainly limited to those sectors of the economy where it is difficult to avoid – e.g. shift working in continuous process plants or lunch-time and evening work in restaurants?

The most often performed work during the so called unsocial time is working on Saturdays, which is performed by 59.6% employed people. In total 37.1% of employed people is working on Sundays, 50.0% of them in the evenings and 28.4% of them at night. This type of work is mostly performed in the branches shown in the table below.

Share of some branches in occurrence of unsocial work
Share of branches in % Form of work
On Saturday On Sunday In the evening At night
Manufacturing 27.6 25.6 38.5 40.3
Health care 18.7 14.7 11.7 15.4
Transport 7.7 8.9 8.9 10.5
Wholesale and retail trade 15.1 9.9 6.8 3.4
Hotels and restaurants 6.5 8.4 7.7 4.9
Construction 8.8 6.0 4.2 1.3

Is there a tendency for non-standard schedules to enter into other areas of the economy, where it may not be strictly necessary, but where it may have attractions – for employers wishing to make more intensive use of their plant, equipment and other facilities, and for workers wishing to attain a better work-life balance or a more convenient means of taking care of children?

Such cases could be observed in retail trade where in order to get more clients the shops are open in late hours or even at night. Workers in the construction (due to big boom) work much more often on Saturdays. The employees are, however, not against such atypical type of work. In total, 75.9% of all employees working on Saturdays consider such work as suitable. Accordingly, 70.1% of workers working on Sundays consider this form work as suitable and also 86.2% workers consider so their work in the evening. The same share of workers (86.2%) considers working at night as suitable for them. However, information about exact reasons for their statements is not available.

To what extent are weekend working and other non-standard working arrangements the result of seasonal work (such as in tourism)?

Due to a low share of employees performing work temporarily, occasionally or seasonally (approximately 5%), it could be assumed that the impact of seasonal work upon implementation of non-standard working schedules is relatively low (exact data are not available).

Shift working

How important is regular shift working (as opposed to occasional shifts to cope with increased temporary demand) in your country?

Shift-work belongs to widely used forms of work in Slovakia. The share of shift-workers in the total number of employed (27.5%) belongs to one of the highest among all EU countries. Mainly regular shift-work is used.

Is shift-working predominantly carried out in specific sectors, and is there any tendency for it to decline (for example as a result of reducing capacity in traditional sectors) or to increase (as employers everywhere seek to make more intensive use of capital investments)?

The shift-work is mainly used in the industry, trade and health care sector. The data available, however, do not allow assessing the development trends in individual branches.

What kinds of shift systems dominate – regular mornings, afternoon or nights or mixed patterns?

The most commonly used form of shift-work is alternating/rotating shifts (51.3% of the total number of shift-workers uses it) and permanent shifts - morning, afternoon and night shifts (40.9% usage).

Organisation of working time

Flexibility of working time

How far do individual workers have influence over their own working time arrangements – for example over the time they start and end work?

Approximately 80% of employees have no opportunity to influence the distribution of their working time. The share of women with fixed start and end of working time is 82.0%, and the share of men is 79.3%. In total 20.3% of employees have possibility to choose from several available fixed working time schedules or to adjust working time to their own needs in certain limits. Only 1.4% of employees can define their own working time schedule.

To what extent is it possible to ‘bank’ hours or days of work – for example to work extra hours for a number of days in order to take day(s) off?

According to the statistical data, 4.5% of men and 6.2% of women have an opportunity to work surplus hours and then take time off. Labour legislation allows the employer to install flexible working time. As soon as it is implemented in a form of a flexible working week or flexible four-week period, the employee can bank certain hours. He or she can use those hours, e.g. by working less hours in certain days before the end of the respective period (week or month). It is also possible to agree with the employer on time off compensating hours worked off above standard working hours. The employee can in such way to “bank” several hours or days above the standard. In 2004, 1.4 % of men and 1.1 % of women employees used this opportunity.

To what extent can workers determine their own work schedules - in other words, work when they like, so long as the work is delivered on time?

In 2004, only 0.8% of men and 1.0% of women had the opportunity to work according to their own work schedule. According to the labour legislation, home workers and teleworkers (since 2007) can distribute their working time as they want - they perform work at home or at any other agreed place. Also people working externally, e.g. according to an Agreement on performance of job can do so.

From an employee perspective, can a distinction be drawn between ‘positive’ flexibility concerning working time (i.e. arrangements that suit them) and ‘negative’ flexibility (arrangements that suit their employers), or are most arrangements by mutual consent?

Yes, it can. The Labour Code provides the right to employer to define the working time for employees. At the same time, it sets up for the employer the obligation to negotiate issues concerning working time with representatives of employees, or to conclude with them an agreement, e. g. on distribution of working time, establishment of flexible working time, start and end of the working time. An individual agreement with respective employee is also possible. In practice it is often the case that the employees or their representatives resign from their demands for working time arrangement as they do not want to get into conflict with their employer. The Labour Code defines also conditions under which the employer is obliged to satisfy the employee’s need for flexible in working time, e.g. when a pregnant woman or a woman or a man taking a permanent care of a child below 15.

Is there evidence that people with higher ranking, better paid jobs are more likely to have greater flexibility regarding their working time arrangements than those with lower ranking/less well paid jobs?

According to the LFS data, employees with higher job ranking have greater flexibility in working time arrangements than those with lower ranking. Flexible working time arrangements are used by 38.5% legislators, senior officials and managers. Among technical, medical and pedagogical professionals only 26.7% of employees have this option. There are no data available regarding the pay level.

Are there major differences between non-manual workers and manual workers in terms of such flexibility?

Working time flexibility is typical for non-manual workers. It is used, e.g. by 29.5% scientists and brain workers, 21.9% middle level officers, but only by about 13% blue-collar employees.

Are there major differences between public sector and private sector workers in terms of such flexibility?

No, there are no major differences between public sector and private sector. In the public sector, working time flexibility is high especially in public administration and defence (38.2% usage). The usage of working time flexibility is, however, very low in the education sector (13%). In sectors where mainly private companies operate, working time flexibility is used mainly by employees working in financial intermediation services (36.1%) and construction (30.7%). The usage of flexible working time arrangements is very low in manufacturing industry - only 8.8%.

Are any major gender differences – for example, are men and women seen to be subject to more or less ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ flexibility?

Statistical data indicate that a slightly lower share of women than men use the flexible working time arrangement. In 2004, only 10.4% of women employees and 11.8% of employed men had some flexibility concerning their working time (i.e. they could “bank” working time in order to take time off later or could vary their working time schedule). There are, however, no data available about the extent of “positive” and “negative” flexibility.

Other working time issues

Multiple job holding

How widespread is the practice of multiple job holding in your country?

In total 1.7% of employed people perform besides their main job also another job regularly, 6.7% of them do so occasionally and 1.4% seasonally. The second job is typical for men as well as women.

Are second or third jobs primarily seen as supplementary sources of income relative to a main job, or are all the different jobs seen as equally valid?

According to the LFS data, in 74.9% cases the reason for the second job was to have additional earnings.

Commuting time

How much time does commuting typically add to the average ‘working day’ (in the sense of time spent away from home)?

Trip to work and back takes in average 44.3 minutes.

Is commuting commonplace for everybody, or does the time spent vary in any systematic way – such as according to the type of job, or whether people live in urban or rural areas?

All workers, except of those working at home, have to travel to work and back. However, due to lack of job opportunities in certain regions, the employees who live in these regions spend more time with commuting. Many people commute to other regions where more jobs are available. Some of them commute from smaller municipalities to bigger cities. Labour mobility has increased also due to establishment of strong economic zones/centres established mainly by direct foreign investments, e.g. companies in automotive and electrical industries.

Is the development of teleworking (full-time or part-time) seen as a viable and attractive alternative to commuting?

Although the Slovak legislation has allowed for work at home in the past, the conditions for telework were defined only in 2007. However, there exist companies which already used telework even before. According to the survey on telework usage, only 3.4% of the Slovak adult population considers telework as an ideal form of employment. The traditional work schedule - full-time work with a fixed working time is still the most preferred one.

Unpaid working hours (of those in work)

Is there much debate about the impact of time spent on unpaid work in the home, as well as time spent on paid work, on work-life balance, especially between men and women?

At present, a lot of attention is paid to gender equality and reconciliation of work and family lives. Several institutional bodies deal with this topic: Permanent Committee for Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities at the Slovak Parliament (Národná rada Slovenskej republiky), Council for Gender Equality at the Slovak Government, and Department of Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR SR). Since 2000 the MPSVR SR annually announces the competition Family Friendly Employer. Confederation of the Trade Unions (Konfederácia odborových zväzov Slovenskej republiky, KOZ SR) has a Commission for equality of men and women. Many research institutions and NGOs also deal with this topic and also seminars and conferences are being organised.

Are there pressures for non-paid work to be more recognised, and for the work involved to be shared more evenly between partners?

The need of a comparable participation of men and women in unpaid work is publicised in press as well as in electronic media.

Composite indicators of weekly working hours

Composite indicators of weekly working hours have been developed for full-time and part-time workers, both male and female, which include time spent in unpaid as well as paid work and time spent commuting. What do you see as the most significant implications of these indicators so far as your country is concerned?

Composite indicators are important from the point of view of observing the total work load of men and women and they could be basis for planning measures improving quality of life.

Viera Škvarková, Institute for Labour and Family Research

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