The Slovenia Times

Ministry planning stricter conditions for unemployment benefits


The proposed EUR 530 gross or EUR 392 net would level the minimum unemployment benefit with the basic minimum income for single-person households.

"The benefit is so modest because it has not changed since 2011... It no longer allows an individual to survive," Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Ksenija Klampfer told the press.

The minimum unemployment benefit is currently received by some 300 people and the ministry expects the measure to cost around EUR 3m.

On the other hand, the minimum insurance period in 24 months prior to unemployment guaranteeing benefits would be extended from 9 to 12 months.

The minister told the press the motive was preventing abuse.

She described the practice of employers hiring workers for nine months and then laying them off - in construction for instance for the winter period -, letting them claim unemployment benefits before hiring them again for nine months.

"This is one of the ways to tackle precarious labour arrangements," Klampfer said.

Meanwhile, the ministry is also proposing reducing the maximum duration of unemployment benefit entitlement for those over 55 and with an insurance period of at least 25 years from 25 months to 19 months.

This would put those over 55 on a par with those over 50 and with an insurance period of at least 25 years, with the minister speaking of the wish to prevent employers from laying off older workers and having them claim unemployment benefits until retirement.

The ministry calculated that the two measures - the longer insurance period and shorter entitlement for those over 55 - would cut unemployment benefit expenditure by EUR 10m to EUR 15m a year.

Also expected to become stricter are penalties for unemployed persons not fulfilling their obligations.

While two minor violations would remain a condition for erasure from the unemployment registry, the changes envisage the possibility of erasure also in the case of a single grave violation - for instance refusing to participate in an active employment policy programme or rejecting a job deemed appropriate by the Employment Service.

Changes are also in the pipeline for foreigners, as third country citizens would be required to have a basic command of Slovenian (A2 level) to be entitled to register as unemployed. Klampfer said the motive was increasing employment possibilities for such persons.

At the end of 2018 around 7,600 third country citizens were included in the registry, mostly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The first reactions to the announced changes have been mixed, with Lidija Jerkič of the ZSSS confederation of trade unions labelling the stricter conditions for unemployment benefit entitlement as problematic. However, she noted these were only proposals that remained to be discussed.

The same changes were welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), which said the number of registered unemployed persons showed efforts to activate them had been fairly unsuccessful so far. It meanwhile labelled the raised minimum unemployment benefit as expected.


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