Working time in the European Union: Slovenia

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

Martina Trbanc

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 aim is to obtain a fuller insight into differences in working time across the European Union and into developments in average hours worked both in total and by specific sections of the work force in different Member States over recent years. The concern is to investigate the factors underlying the changes that are observed in the survey data collected and, in particular, how terms and conditions of employment are changing in relation to working time. In general, data refers to the working time of those in employment.

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?

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?

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

Although the LFS data for period 2000-2006 indicate a 1.5 percent point decline in the average usual hours worked per week, it could hardly be said that the employees are actually working fewer hours in Slovenia. Changes in the average usual working hours per week of persons in full-time employment (which largely prevail both among employed men and women) are only minor: 0.2% point increase for full-time employed men and 0.2% point decrease for full-time employed women in the 2000-2006 period. Changes in the average usual weekly worked hours of part-time employed persons are slightly bigger, especially among women (2.0% point decrease in the average usual weekly worked hours compared to 0.5% point increase among men). Overall, the decline in the average usual weekly worked hours in Slovenia since 2000 is minor and it is only observed among women. It goes mainly on the account of somewhat increased part-time employment: in the 2000-2006 period the proportion of employed women working part-time increased for 3.4% points and the proportion of men for 1.5% points. However, the proportion of employed persons working part-time remains relatively low, both for men and women (in 2006, 8.8% of employed women and 4.7% of employed men).

There is no evidence about the reduction of the number of people working very long hours. Working very long hours is most often attributed to the self-employed, but the data of EWCS 2005 indicate that in Slovenia there are twice as many employees as self-employed among those working over 48 hours per week.

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?

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 notion of annual working time is hardly ever used either in political or everyday discussion or in the social partner negotiations in Slovenia. According to the available data, the average usual hours worked per year per employed person (including self-employed and employees) decreased for 2.4% points in the period 2000-2004, but there is no other information available to conclude what the reasons are behind the decrease or whether it goes more on the account of self-employed or employees. No information is available on the number of weeks worked per year.

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?

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?

The five-day working week is the predominant pattern in Slovenia. According to the EWCS 2005 only 6.5% of employed persons work less than 5 days per week, but on the other hand 27.7% of the employed work 6 or even 7 days per week (among other things this goes on the account of still relatively high share of workers in agriculture).

There are no trends in the direction of reducing the number of days worked per week on the account of increasing number of hours worked per day. There are also no such initiatives given either by unions or by employers. The organisation of work in Slovenian organisations (including working time flexibility) as well as the general perception of working time is still rather traditional.

Full-time and part-time working

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

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

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)?

Part-time working has grown relative to full-time working since 2000 (for 1.5% point for men and 3.4% point for women). There are nearly twice as many women employees than men working part-time (in 2006, 8.8% of women employees compared to 4.7% of men employees). However, the large majority of employed women work full-time (traditionally since the socialist times) and there are no signs that the ratio between women working full-time and those working part-time could change more substantially in the future.

The phenomenon of part-time work in Slovenia is more typically connected to age (and to health condition of individual employee) than to gender. According to LFS data from 2006 (2nd quarter), the highest concentration of part-time employees is in the group of persons aged up to 25 years and among those aged over 55 years. In the age group 15-19 years 62.9% of employees work part-time, in the age group 20-24 years their share is 24%, while in the age group 25-29 years it drops to 6.8% (LFS 2006, Statistical Office of RS). The share of part-time employees are low among aged 30 to 54 years, and high again among those older than 55 years: in the age group 55-59 years the share of part-time employees is 13.6%, among 60-64 year-olds it is 34%, among 65-69 year-olds 51.7% and among 70-74 year-olds 53.8% (ibid.).

High proportion of part-time work among young people can be explained by the fact that young people very often combine regular studies and part-time work - in the form of student jobs performed with the mediation of so-called student service agencies. Student jobs are the least taxed of all types of job contracts; besides, students are very flexible (in terms of working conditions, especially working time – prepared to work in the evenings, over the weekends, etc.) and since they are not working through a regular employment contract the employers do not have many obligations towards them. All these elements make student work very appealing to employers and with the clear trend of prolongation of education since the mid-1990s (notable increase of proportion of young people continuing their studies at the tertiary level) the number of student jobs (mostly part-time) has increased considerably too.

On the other hand, for employees aged over 55 years, part-time work is mostly the solution in situations of health problems that lead to partial disability, thus the persons combine partial disability pension and part-time work. This is also how part-time work was traditionally perceived in Slovenia (and often still is by the employers) – as most suitable for those persons that are partially disabled due to health reasons. In some cases of older persons part-time employment is also combined with partial regular pension.

The government in general does not encourage part-time work (social security contributions and taxation rules are adjusted to full-time work and often function as disincentives for employers to employ people on part-time basis). The only exception is the possibility given to parents of small children to work part-time with the state paying part of their social security contributions up to the full-time work equivalent. This possibility (the right of parents to work part-time) is stipulated in the Act on Parental Protection and Family Incomes (modifications passed in Spring 2006; Official Gazette No. 110, 2006). One of the parents who care for a child has a right to work part-time (at least half of the full-time working hours) until the child is three years old (in case of caring for two or more children until the youngest child is six years old). The employer pays such a parent the income equivalent to the work actually done, while the state pays the difference of all social security contributions between part-time and full-time work. There is no data publicly available on how many parents actually use this right, but according to the Governmental Office for Equal Opportunities it is used practically exclusively by women (mothers) and not by men (fathers).

Collective bargaining

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

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

In the last five years the collective bargaining was marked (besides the always present pay issues) with the issues of making employment relations (and thus labour market) more flexible, especially the open-ended employment contracts where job security is very high. In the negotiations around modifications of Employment Relations Act (that were going on in the 2005-2007 period), the employers and for some time also the government proposed quite radical changes related to employment contracts and job security. The proposed change (that employers were arguing) related to the duration of working time was to exempt the half hour lunch break (which is traditionally part of paid working time in Slovenia) from the (paid) working time. Alternatively, some employers suggested to leave the lunch break, but to prolong working time for about half an hour daily (to go from 40 hour working week back to 42 hour one). Trade unions were arguing severely to retain the level of already attained workers rights (including half hour of paid lunch break), and any prolongation of working time was out of the question. At the end only minor modifications (and nothing related to working time) were agreed upon and the modified Employment Relations Act was passed in autumn 2007.

Another working time issue that the trade unions heavily engaged around was Sunday and holiday work of employees in shops and shopping centres. It was at the beginning a payment issue for weekend and holiday work, but after unsuccessful negotiations with the employers of the retail sector, the unions started a public campaign, which in September 2003 culminated in national Referendum on Opening hours of shops (with very low participation), where the majority voted for shops being closed on Sundays. Based on the referendum, the Amendments to the Act on Trade were passed, which the employers (especially big trade companies) fought using all legal means, including a complaint to the Constitutional Court (claiming the changes were against the principles of free trade). The situation was finally settled in October 2006, when trade union of employees in trade and employers in trade signed a new Collective Agreement for Trade – according to which the union agreed that individual trade companies were free to decide on the opening hours of shops (including Sundays and holidays), providing the employers paid 100% Sunday and holiday supplement to the employees and fulfilled some other conditions. As a consequence, the Amendments to the Act on Trade were changed and the shops are again open on Sundays.

Issues related to working time flexibility and organisation of working time are often considered as organisational ones and are (when needed, for example in the need of shift work, over hours, weekend work) mostly negotiated at the level of individual organisation, especially from the point of equivalent pay for non-standard working time.

Part-time working is rarely considered by the unions, so it is difficult to comment on their view.

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?

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

In general, the standard full-time working day prevails as well as the standard 40 hour, 5 day working week. However, according to EWCS 2005, 20.5% of employed persons usually work (in their main paid job) 6 days per week and 7.2% of employed persons even 7 days per week. Also, according to the same source, 32.2% of employed persons work more than 41 hours per week. This can be explained by the still relatively high share of persons employed in the agriculture, but also with a common practice of working (paid) over-hours (employers prefer to pay over-hours than to employ new workforce, and employees are usually keen to perform over-hours to improve their monthly pay).

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?

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?

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

The non-standard working time arrangements are traditionally strongly present in the manufacturing sector (work in 2 or 3 shifts, so-called continuous working time, week-end shifts), as well as in some market services (retail, restaurants, tourism, personal services). It can be said that the non-standard working time arrangements are used in sectors where there is a technological and/or organisational need (organisation of production, flexibility of production and the strategy of building competitiveness on the flexible production) or an explicit market interest. In other sectors the standard working time schedules prevail and there is no evidence of any major changes. When changes in working time schedules are introduced, they as a rule come on the initiative of employers and not employees.

In public services the standard working hours (one, morning shift) still prevail and although there are some initiatives to organise work in two shifts (for example in public child care – kindergartens) no or only minor changes occurred for now. An example of such minor change is an introduction of one working Saturday per month for public offices in municipalities that deal directly with citizens; this change was introduced in 2007 by Ministry of Public Administration and was severely opposed to by public administration in question.

Shift working

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

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)?

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

According to EWCS 2005, 30% of employed persons in Slovenia work in shifts. It is mostly regular shifts, mainly in manufacturing and market service sectors (retail, tourism, personal services). The incidence of shift work seems to be relatively stable; there is no evidence of its decline, but also little evidence on its increase.

The predominant pattern of shifts is mixed or better alternating shifts. In the case of two shifts this usually means working one week in one shift and the next week in another. In the case of three shifts (in manufacturing sector), the usual alternation is two days in the morning shift, two days in the afternoon one, two days in the night shift, followed by two or three free days.

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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

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

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

According to EWCS 2005, 58.1% of employed people in Slovenia work on fixed starting and finishing times, while the rest can to a certain degree determine starting and finishing times of their work. Whether starting and finishing times are fixed depends mostly of the type of work and organisation of work (as well as on the technological process). If the work process allows it, it is customary for employees to have the possibility of flexible starting and finishing times within the range of one or two hours.

It is normally possible to ‘bank’ hours and days of work, often this is also stimulated by the employers. For example, when there is the need for employees to perform over-hours (due to seasonal or other increased demand for products or services), such over-hours can either be paid or used as days off in the periods when there is less demand for work.

Situations when workers can determine completely their own work schedules are very rare (according to EWCS 2005, 7.2% of employed persons in Slovenia can determine working hours entirely by themselves). This can probably be done only in cases of specific professions (i.e. working free lance, teleworkers, people working from home) or in the agriculture sector.

The distinction between ‘positive’ or employee-friendly working time flexibility (such as flexible starting and finishing times, ‘banking’ of hours of work, occasional telework) and ‘negative’ or employee-unfriendly working time flexibility (such as evening and night work, weekend work) has been highlighted by Slovenian experts (for example: Kanjuo Mrčela, A. and Ignjatović, M.: Unfriendly Flexibilisation of Work and Employment – The Need for Flexicurity; in: Svetlik, I. and Ilič, B., eds: HRM’s Contribution to Hard Work. Peter Lang, 2006, pp. 315-350). They pointed out that in Slovenian organisations the incidence of employee unfriendly forms of working time flexibility is very high. However, it has to be stressed that the working time arrangements that in principle suit most the employers (i.e. are employee unfriendly) are normally agreed upon with workers (and trade unions at the company level). As research has showed (for example: Stanojević, M., Rojec, M. and Trbanc, M.: Multinational companies and flexibility of employment in Slovenia. Družboslovne razprave, XXII, 2006, 53, pp. 7-31), workers in manufacturing and market services (where the elementary earnings are relatively low) are often interested to work in shifts, including night shifts and weekend shifts, since they in this way can increase their monthly earnings considerably.

Although there are no data available, it can be assumed that people with higher ranking, better paid jobs more often have greater working time flexibility than people in lower ranking and less paid jobs. The same can be assumed for non-manual workers, namely having more working time flexibility than manual workers (whose work more often depends on the production technology). No information is available on the differences between public and private sector, but it, again, could be assumed that there is more ‘negative’ working time flexibility in the private sector (especially in manufacturing and market services) and more ‘positive’ one in the public sector. No assumptions are possible on the gender differences.

Other working time issues

Multiple job holding

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

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?

The practice of multiple job holding is not very widespread in Slovenia. According to EWCS 2005, only 3.2% of employed persons regularly perform another (besides the main) job (or more jobs) and 6.7% of employed persons occasionally or seasonally have another job (or more jobs). Such additional job(s) are primarily seen as supplementary sources of income.

Commuting time

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

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?

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

According to EWCS 2005, the mean (average) time of employed persons in Slovenia spent for travelling from home to work and back is 35.4 minutes daily, with standard deviation 29.8 minutes. Slovenia is a small country with relatively even regional distribution of jobs (although there is more demand for labour in some regions than in others). Daily commuting to work is common for people living in smaller settlements gravitating to bigger towns, but in general commuting on longer distances is rare. There does not seem to be the connection between the type of job and commuting time, while the connection between living in urban or rural areas and time spent for commuting to work is more obvious (people from rural areas commute to work to nearby urban areas).

There has not been much discussion around the issue of teleworking as an alternative to commuting yet.

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?

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

The debate on work-life balance, especially on reconciliation of work and family life is rather recent and is promoted by experts and by projects and initiatives of the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs and Governmental Office for Equal Opportunities (for example: Family Friendly Entreprise certificates for companies; promotion action titled Daddy, be active! – focused at more even distribution of work/care at home between men and women).

In reality (as researchers point out), the intensity of paid work and the demands at work place are increasing, making work situations more and more stressful. Women, who mostly work full-time, besides this also do most of the unpaid work at home (they on average spend about three times more time caring for children, cooking and doing the housework than men) and this traditional division of unpaid work is changing very slowly (the situation largely varies according to education and age of men and women in question). In principle, the solution is rarely seen in more recognition of non-paid work, but usually in more even sharing of non-paid work between the partners.

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?

The composite indicators above all show very clearly the difference in the total work load between men and women. Although Slovenian men work somewhat longer hours in paid job(s) (but still on average only 2 hours per week) and spend more time commuting, women do much more non-paid work at home, and end up working (both in paid and non-paid work) nearly 20 hours weekly more than men! Slovenia is among the countries with the highest difference in the total weekly work load between men and women – which puts the issue of gender equality at work in another perspective and highlights how traditional the gender division of work still is.

Martina Trbanc, OHRRC, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana

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