Croatia: Working conditions in central public administration

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 11 August 2013



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

The Croatian central public administration is part of the broader public administration consisting of the state administration, local and regional self-government, and public services. The bodies of the central public administration comprise the ministries, civil service organisations and county offices. There are 20 ministries and 8 state administrative organisations, 20 offices of government administration and 4 central state offices. In Croatia there are no published and publicly available separated data on the number of employees in CPA, but they are included in the sector: Public administration and defence; compulsory social security.

Factors that present limitations to public administration reforms are deeply rooted authoritarian political, administrative, and social culture, inherited from the past. The changes towards democratic, participative culture have been rather gradual. In CPA there has been no new recruitment in the last four years. Employees in CPA are less paid in comparison with those in private sector, but the security of their jobs is much better in current conditions of the economic crisis.

1: Brief description of the general structure of the national Public Administration and of recent changes and reforms introduced.

1.1 What is the definition/concept of CPA applicable in your country? What are the main similarities and differences of this definition in relation to the one provided in the Background Note? Are there also other Administrative levels (regional/local), whose workers have a different status?

In Croatia this category includes workers that are employed by the Central Public Administration (CPA) comprising decentralized levels both at county and local level (municipalities), as well as some employees in central governmental agencies. The Croatian state administration had passed through a number of frequent changes and poorly conceived and executed reorganizations characterised by political voluntarism. The frequency of such reorganisations was partly caused by the necessity of creating the new administrative organizations in a new State (foreign affairs, defence, customs service, etc.). (One should not forget that recent Croatian history has been almost completely shadowed by three political facts: the fall of communism - the first free elections in 1990, the declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and the War of Independence which started in 1991 and ended in 1995, when Croatia regained much of its occupied territories by military force). CPA forms an integral part of a wider concept of public administration, which in addition to state administration, comprises local and regional self-government and public services, all of which share a common goal of satisfying general interests and public needs. State administration structure and tasks are regulated by law. Basic legislation regulating the organisation, scope and functioning of state administration includes the Act on State Administration System (OG 150/11) and the Act on Organisation and Scope of Ministries and Other Central State Administration Bodies (OG 150/11 and 22/12). The Croatian public administration consists of the state administration, local and regional self-government, and public services. The bodies of the public administration comprise the ministries, civil service organisations and county offices. There are 20 ministries and 8 state administrative organisations, 20 offices of government administration and 4 central state offices. In these bodies, officials of the public administration and other employees attend to the matters of public administration. The officials carry out the matters from the statutorily defined jurisdiction of the body in which they work, and other employees carry out ancillary and other matters. There are two levels and four types of state administrative bodies. At the central level, there are ministries, the (so-called) state administrative organisations and the (so-called) central state offices. The difference between the ministries and the state administrative organisations is in political importance and political influence, as the ministers are members of the Government and the heads of the state administrative organisations are not. The central state offices are in the closest relation with the Prime Minister. They are, in a way, Prime Minister´s special management tools. At the lower level, there are the state administrative departments, one in each county. They are in charge of the first degree administrative procedures.

1.2 Describe possible different types of national CPA workers in terms of employment relationships/contracts (civil servants, public employees, etc) and their associated characteristics in terms of duties, rights, job responsibilities, ways to access to employment, etc.

In the whole public sector, there are four categories of civil servants. According to the Civil Service Jobs Classification Regulation, job positions of managing civil servants have been broken down into the following categories: general manager, senior manager, manager and junior manager. In the state administration there are approximately 52.000 civil servants. In all local and regional self-government units there are approximately 10.500 civil servants. Centrally financed public services employ about 180.000 people, and locally financed public services employ an additional 15.000. An additional fifth category comprises the employees of public companies, e.g., in utility services, state oil company, state postal service, state electric power industry, and the like.

1.3 Related to the previous point, give some figures on employment in the public administration and specifically on CPA employment in your country for the time period 2005-2012

In Croatia there are no published and publicly available separated data on the number of employees in CPA (except source mentioned in foot-note 1 of Table 1), but they are included in a sector Public administration and defence; compulsory social security. The Public Sector Staff Register has been devised but not fully in implementation yet; it will compile a set of data on employees in the public sector as a whole, for the purpose of establishing a quality and efficient HRM and centralised payroll system. The Register will include the employees of all state bodies and public services i.e. public institutions and other legal persons whose salary funds are allocated from the state budget, the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, the Croatian Employment Service, the Croatian Health Insurance Institute, and public institutions whose salary funds are allocated from the resources of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute. The Register will contain the following sets of data: on the respective state body or public service, on the internal organisation of the state body or public service, on positions, and on employees. The aim is to ensure all necessary conditions for the use of the Register as a relevant source of data on employees in state bodies and public services, establish all functionalities required for maintaining employees’ personal files, and to implement the centralised payroll as soon as possible. It is worth underlining that according to the governmental Decision to ban new recruitment of civil servants and employees of government agencies, professional services and offices of the Croatian Government (Odluka o zabrani novog zapošljavanja državnih službenika i namještenika u tijelima državne uprave, stručnim službama i uredima Vlade Republike Hrvatske, OG 153/2009) there has been no new recruitment in last four years in CPA. Thus, one may assume that the number of employees in CPA has not increased since 2009. Around 45% of employees in CPA are women.

Evolution of CPA workers
 

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

CPA workers. Distinguish (if possible)

By gender (Female)

By employment relationship

     

25,5501,2

n.a

n.a

 

.

   

Total Public administration workers

105 074

.

By gender (Female)

By employment relationship

105 075

44 029

n.a

105 067

44 822

n.a

104 803

45 610

n.a

106 542

46 878

n.a

105 797

47 673

n.a

106 673

48 355

n.a

106 699

48 558

n.a

106 355

48 424

n.a

% CPA workers/total public administration workers                

Source: Croatian Bureau of Statistic: Persons in paid employment, by activities, various years, Number: 9.2.1/12., www.dzs.hr

1 Government of the Republic of Croatia 2010-2013 Civil Service Human Resources Development strategy, available on http://www.uprava.hr/UserDocsImages/Državna%20služba/2012/181212-CS%20HRD%20STRATEGY%202010%202013_ENG.pdf

2 Figures including employees of County State Administration Offices, while civil servants hired in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia are not covered.

1.4 Briefly describe the major changes and reforms implemented in your country’s CPA since 2008 onwards that have proven or very likely have changed/affected working conditions of CPA workers.

The progress of CPA in Croatia should be analysed for the whole period of Croatian independency, since 1990s. The development of the Croatian political and administrative system from the beginning of the 1990s can roughly be divided into two eras, with the year 2000 as a breaking point or critical juncture. The first phase, 1990-1999, was marked by a transition to democracy and the introduction of a free market economy, together with the process of independent state building, including the 1991-1995 Homeland war period. The unfavourable economic and social circumstances of war period (economic downturn, unemployment, refugees, war veterans and other social problems) together with the strong semi-presidential political regime with authoritarian features, led to retarded political development, reinforcing the negative side-effects of transition, such as corruption, extreme politicization and social inequalities. The second phase began in 2000 when a broad left-wing coalition came into power, changed the Constitution and introduced the parliamentary system, initiating the processes of democratization, decentralization and EU accession. Still, the political and administrative tradition based on the strong state and the collectivist culture is heavily influencing political and administrative development. Some of the indicators are: slow administrative reform, unfinished process of decentralization, weak institutions and underdeveloped civil society. Substantial efforts are being invested with the view to implementing civil service reform measures. Through the preparations for membership of the EU, CPA reform also involves making changes to and developing a new administrative culture, capable of attracting, developing and retaining experts. An efficient and well prepared state administration is a precondition for the assumption of the role of an EU member state. The basic objects of the public administration reform project in Croatia are: improving the legislative framework regulating the work of the public administration, the aim being to achieve as great transparency in hiring and promotion; enhancing the institutional capacities of the Ministry of Justice, Administration and Local Self-Government and other institutions crucial for the management of the public administration; and professional further training of civil servants. Currently underway is a process of adjusting the civil service through modernisation of its institutions, improvement of civil servants’ performance and the alignment of processes in order to meet the needs and demands of citizens and businesses community. The general objective of the process includes redefining the relation between individual citizens, the economic entities and the civil service. The service concept should be fully embedded in all aspects of civil service, in order to make sure administration meets the general objective of rendering high-quality services to the service users. At the same time, the comprehensive requirements of impartiality, openness, predictability, effectiveness and efficiency must be respected. Political democratization and decentralisation have also become increasingly important encouragement for changes in the political-administrative system. However, there are factors that present limitations to public administration reforms, such as deeply rooted authoritarian political, administrative, and social culture, inherited from the past. The changes towards democratic, participative culture have been rather gradual. In spite of the fact that the leading political actors could give the strongest endorsement to these processes, political bodies have been showing the greatest reluctance in supporting general participation in the political processes and political decision-making. Finally, amendments to the Civil Service Act entered into force, providing for increased mobility among civil servants.

2: Identification of main recent changes in the working conditions of CPA’s workers in your country, as well as their expected evolution in the future.

2.1 Please provide relevant information on the evolution in the time period 2008 onwards on the following working conditions-related variables specifically related to CPA workers in your country. If possible, compare differences between specific subgroups (e.g. civil servants, public employees) and with other public and private workers:

  • Career and employment security (satisfaction at work, employment status, pay systems and levels, job involvement, autonomy at work, number of worked hours, working time flexibility, fear to lose employment, presence of precarious and/or atypical forms of employment (temporary workers, part-time, agency work), etc )

The guarantee of the political independence of civil servants is based on the constitutional guarantees of the equality of all residents irrespective of their political convictions and the rights of all citizens to take part, under equal conditions, in the performance of public matters and to be taken on in the public service. Privileging junior or senior civil servants or depriving them of their rights because of their political affiliations or some other reasons is legally forbidden. The system of public competition (for all jobs in state, public and local administrations), except in rare cases, results in greater attention being paid to education and professional competence. Every candidate that has taken part in a competition can seek protection for his or her rights before the Administrative Court, and after that, pursuant to the constitutional guarantees of equality, through a constitutional suit before the Constitutional Court of the RC. Protection of the political independence of civil servants is also reinforced through the principle of incompatibility between service in the administration and membership in some representative body of the same community (state, or regional or local unit). Civil servants are allowed to be politically active, with the guarantee of certain rights, such as the right to be away from work in order to take part in an election campaign for example. While in the first half of the 1990s, there were mass dismissals of civil servants because of their political convictions or ethnicity, and hiring, on ethnic, political, local or friendship basis, situation in later period changed for the better. Permanence/Durability of employment in the administration is formally fairly well stressed, although in fact it was fairly low, particularly in the first half of the 1990s. Any adult Croatian citizen with the appropriate qualifications can be taken on in the civil service, and so can stateless persons and foreigners, with special permission. Additional conditions, if previously prescribed, can be sought for some jobs. No person can be accepted if he/ she has been convicted of one of the crimes (felonies) specified by the law, sentenced to a term of imprisonment of a minimum of three years, or if he/she is engaged with some activity that, as a civil servant, he /she would be supposed to supervise. For some kinds of service, additional hurdles in the way of acceptance can also be prescribed by special laws. In Croatia there has been no tradition of systematic survey on public servants’ motivation; nevertheless can be studied in the context of changed expectations and researches on their career and employment security.

  • Skills development (continuing vocational training activities, training activities paid by employer)

The continuous improvement of professional knowledge and skills is a requirement for all civil servants. A training system for all civil servants is established and delivered centrally by the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC), according to the Training Strategy as passed by the Government of Croatia. Each state body organises specific specialized training programmes separately, in accordance with their institutional needs. In addition, civil servants are allowed to attend specialised training programmes outside the Civil Service in order to improve their knowledge and skills. The delivery of civil servants’ training is managed (planned, delivered, monitored, supervised and evaluated) via the use of an IT supported training records as an integral part of a single database on the structure and competencies of civil servants. In Croatia, only a three-year undergraduate public administration studies is in place, which underlines for establishing a public administration education system at university education level. Since 2006, an interdisciplinary, specialised master’s programme titled “Public Administration” has being delivered. The study programme was aligned to match the European standards and transformed in line with the Bologna Process. The purpose of the study is to deepen the knowledge from scientific disciplines falling under the areas of public law and public administration. The programme is mostly intended for the holders of university degrees in law working in CPA and other state bodies. Regular annual Training Needs Assessment (TNA) reports have been developed since 2006. The priorities relate to training of civil servants to meet the obligations stemming from efficient performance of their work related to the EU and also to obtain and improve IT skills, foreign language and communication skills, as well as to improve managerial skills of civil service managers. The Civil Service ethics and anti-corruption were recognized as important areas for education. For the purpose of education in Zagreb is established the State School for Public Administration whose activities are education and training of civil servants. The School with Dutch Institute for Public Administration in 2012 began with the realisation of the Project Strengthening the capacity of the National School of Public Administration and support the development of EU programmes.

  • Health and wellbeing (exposure to risks and hazards, stress at work, job intensity, psychosocial risks, information on existing health and safety risks at work, monotonous/complex work, social support at work, organisational issues)

  • Reconciliation of working and non-working life (Work life balance, flexibility at work to fulfil personal or family matters, etc)

  • Changes in work-related values amongst CPA workers

  • As far as possible, highlight the main differences in the working conditions of CPA in comparison to private sector employees.

Although the difficulties involved in balancing work and family life in CPA have been referred to in various public debates, particularly from the point of view of women, Croatia has had no research data and surveys concerning these issues that could be deemed as being representative for the mentioned sector. One almost 10 year old study showed that men’s working schedule, level of overtime work and/or shift work had a significantly negative impact on the their wife’s perception of marriage quality and feelings of intimacy, but it was not orientated specially to employees in CPA. UNDP survey on Quality of Life revealed that in the whole economy (probably also in CPA) many men and women in Croatia work long hours: around one third of interviewed reported that they work more than 48 hours a week in their main job. Also, childcare services are not sufficiently developed, which creates problems for working parents who are forced to strike a balance between family and work obligations. Women (who represent almost a half of all employed in the public sector) are particularly affected by such difficulties, often having to choose between their career (education/employment) and caring for their children, which leads to increasing gender inequalities. Very often, families stated that the operational hours of their children’s crèche did not fit their needs. In that sense, situation deteriorated in the last few years because cost of childcare services increased significantly.

2.2 If available, and based on existing forecasting studies/researches, etc., please provide information on the expected evolution and trends in the number of CPA workers and their working conditions in the nearer future (coming 1-3 years).

Employees in CPA are mostly working full time and with indefinite employment contract; nevertheless due to the ban on new recruitments in CPA, there are more and more young people working temporarily without establishing working relation on short-term contract or on project basis. For the purpose of further development of civil servants’ training system and enabling the achievement of high-quality and the needed scope of training, the Government intends to strengthen capacities of the central body in charge of coordination, organisation and immediate delivery of training to civil servants, while taking into account the possibility to consolidate the academic and professional training programme within a single institution. The aim is to achieve efficient and transparent management of training and funds intended for the purpose. This should contribute to an efficient human resources management, as the civil servants who successfully completed individual programmes could get an opportunity to take on more complex (better) job positions, and the state bodies will have a possibility to choose best civil servants for most demanding job positions. The Government intention is to achieve debureaucratization through simplification and acceleration of the administrative procedures with the creation of one-stop shop system for citizens and entrepreneurs (a system where all licences required for a legal start of a business are obtained in one administrative procedure and in one place), provision of electronic access to public administration for citizens and entrepreneurs, development of the entrepreneurial culture in public administration and of the civil servants’ proactive attitude towards their work, orientation towards time-limited labour legal arrangements connected with the realisation of the previously accepted administrative programmes. This includes also more flexible overall labour and employment policy.

2.3 Please provide information on the likely causes of changes in the working conditions of CPA’s workers identified and their respective rationale. If possible, distinguish between causes related to cyclical reforms from and those related to structural reforms.

Due to the organisational changes in 2011 and a lack of adequate database it is impossible to obtain a reliable overview in working conditions and their changes taken since 2008. For example, Ministry of Families, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare ceased operating and their work has been taken over by the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and Ministry of Health. Family Directorate from the former Ministry of Families, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity as well as the Social Welfare Directorate of the former Ministry of Health and Social Welfare have continued their work within the organizational system of the new Ministry of Social Policy and Youth. The Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship ceased operating and its affairs have been taken over by the Ministry of Labour and Pension System and the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Trade. The Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management ceased operating and the affairs have been taken over by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds which also includes the Directorate for Island and Coastal Development of the former Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction ceased operating and its affairs have been taken over by the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning.

Some of the business activities - like IT maintenance, security and surveillance - are outsourced to private providers, so number of employees in that occupations has been reduced. Generally, there were no firing of the labour force in CPA, but their (even before low) salaries have been further decreased.

3: Compliance with regulations on working conditions

3.1 Please identify specific national institutions or bodies with responsibility for inspection and enforcement of compliance with regulations/legislation on working conditions in the national public administration in general and CPA workers in particular.

In all Ministries and State organisations are established (or are in process of establishing) internal control departments and/or inspections that among others are responsible for the enforcement of compliance with regulations/legislation on working conditions. Additionally, in the Ministry of Public Administration is established the Department for local (regional) self-government, which performs administrative and professional matters pertain to the system and organization of local (regional) governments, regional and organizational structure of local and territorial (regional) self-government. Mentioned Department also controls the operation of representative and executive bodies, the legality of acts, conduction and operation of local and territorial (regional) self-government. The Department performs administrative supervision. Within the Department are organized two Divisions with following functions: the service for establishment of local and territorial (regional) self-government and the service for monitoring of local (regional) self-government.

3.2 Provide a brief description and available data of their activities and recent initiatives in the field of CPA working conditions taken since 2008 onwards.

Due to the organisational changes in 2011 and a lack of adequate database it is impossible to obtain a reliable overview in working conditions and their changes taken since 2008. For example, Ministry of Families, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare ceased operating and their work has been taken over by the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth, Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and Ministry of Health. Family Directorate from the former Ministry of Families, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity as well as the Social Welfare Directorate of the former Ministry of Health and Social Welfare have continued their work within the organizational system of the new Ministry of Social Policy and Youth. The Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship ceased operating and its affairs have been taken over by the Ministry of Labour and Pension System and the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Trade. The Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management ceased operating and the affairs have been taken over by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds which also includes the Directorate for Island and Coastal Development of the former Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction ceased operating and its affairs have been taken over by the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning.

4: Social partners points of view

4.1 Please reflect the points of view of the main social partners in the national public administration with respect to the recent evolution of working conditions of CPA workers, and their assessment of the current situation and perspectives about the future. Describe the elements of agreement/disagreement between them.

Job security, as it is still the nom in CPA, is an important issue in Croatia, given high unemployment and multiple redundancies in the private sector. Nevertheless, there is a debate on the amount of employees in CPA and some argue that there are too many.. As mentioned there are no reliable data on the total number of employees in CPA, so politicians and media are used to overestimate (or in some cases underestimate) their number. In March 2012 instead of presenting figures on the real number of state administration employees, Arsen Bauk, the Minister of Public Administration has used false information in one daily newspaper that the former Government HDZ hired as many as 60,000 new state administration employees in the period 2007-2011. The trade union of state and local administration employees issued a statement calling on the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic and the Administration Minister to protect the dignity of those employed in the state administration which is portrayed by the media as a permanently growing sector, run by political parties.

4.2 Identify recent social dialogue initiatives taken by public sector social partners in the last 3-4 years in order to develop/improve working conditions amongst CPA workers and/or minimise negative consequences of some changes. Briefly describe (objectives, activities developed outcomes) and assess them.

Due to financial crisis and a lack of revenues in the State Budget, in February the Government unilaterally without respecting signed collective agreement and its own promise, adopted regulations and decisions to facilitate a three per cent gross wage cut for employees in state and public services. The cut has been effective for March salaries to be paid out in April 2013. It was explained that the wage scale for public officials, judges and other judiciary officials would be reduced. A reduction of the wage scale for officials, judges, etc. would require amendments to an entire series of laws, so the Government has decided to reduce the basic wage rate instead. The Government explained that these salary cuts would result in a significant savings in the budget. The government further noted that apart from the reduction in wage scales, these would be adjusted for employees in government agencies considered as state officials and in those agencies where this had not been done previously.

4.3 Describe the public debate (if any) in your country regarding the status and working conditions of CPA workers with respect to other groups of public workers and to private sector workers.

Because of high unemployment and low employment security in the private sector, employees in the CPA have been better-off, but in the media and through trade unions they complain on organisation of the public administration, the low quality of their working conditions and promotions, relatively huge burden of their working obligations and low salaries in comparison to the private sector. In recent period nothing has been done for improving their position, but there were no laid-offs in CPA, while the economic contraction led to a rapid worsening of the labour market with falling employment in private sector. Thus, employees in CPA are badly paid in comparison with those in the private sector, but their job security is much better in current conditions of economic crisis,

Commentary

In the latest period the social dialogue in Croatia has been seriously damaged. The latest mentioned the wage reduction in CPA induced the civil servants' union to announce that they would take the matter to court as the government's decision was fully disrespect of Croatia's legal order. The union announced that it would refer the Government's decision to the Constitutional Court to assess the decision's constitutionality because the Government was obliged to seek the opinion of unions. Amongst else this was done less than half an hour before the Government adopted its decision and so the unions consider that they insufficient impact with regard to the regulation on wage scales in the civil service. Some other public unions underlined that the government had the power to reduce wage scales but that it had never done so without first discussing such an option with partners or that it had ever announced such a move in the media. As such, the union assessed the decision as unilateral and without precedent in Croatian history. The unions consider that the Government has backed away from all its promises that it would not touch civil servant salaries what would mostly negatively affect those with the lowest salaries. The unions reminded that the only promise that has not been broken is that there would not be laid-off in CPA; The question is now when this promise will be broken too.

Predrag Bejaković and Irena Klemenčić, Institute of Public Finance, Zagreb

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