Slovenia's labour law adequate, oversight poor, expert says
"Going only by Slovenia's legislation, the workers' position is good. Employees working for employers who respect the law and are obligated to follow collective bargaining agreements are actually in an acceptable position," according to the labour law professor at the Maribor Law Faculty.
Poor oversight is the bigger problem, she says, adding that this can only be resolved by hiring more labour inspectors.
The Labour Inspectorate said in a statement ahead of Labour Day that the number of companies increased by 44,000 last year, whereas the number of inspectors had actually gone down from 87 to 81.
The Inspectorate performed nearly 13,000 inspections last year, finding nearly 24,400 violations and issuing a total of some EUR 3.83m in fines. The inspectorate also filed 35 criminal complaints.
Senčur Peček is most worried about avoidance to pay social contributions and violations related to work hours. Workers often work more than the law allows or need to be available over the phone or email even after work, she says.
Another problem for Slovenian workers are also low salaries laid down as base salaries in collective agreements in some sectors.
She is however optimistic about the planned talks on a new social pact, which is to bring an increase in pay in the private sector. She hopes the task force put together by social partners will be able to draft a proposal satisfying all sides.
The expert believes Slovenia needs a new collective bargaining agreement for the private sector, which would apply to all those working in sectors that do not have collective bargaining agreements.
"I don't believe it's impossible to resolve pay-related problems simply by raising the minimum wage, that was merely a corrective measure. Tax cuts ... are also just part of the solution."
Comparing the state of labour rights in the public and private sectors, Senčur Peček says those in the public sector were worse off in recent years due to austerity measures, but also enjoy better job security.
She believes that employers' dissatisfaction with what they claim is poor labour market flexibility is unfounded. Slovenia's labour legislation has become more flexible after the legislation was changed six years ago.
What is more, OECD data shows that Slovenia's legislation is more flexible in terms of layoffs than the EU average, she says.
Moreover, legislation allows more significant flexibility in terms of working hours, "so it is impossible to speak of significant rigidity of labour legislation".
Senčur Peček believes Slovenia needs to take steps against precarious forms of employment, which have been spreading for several decades and have also made their way to the public sector.
A recently reported case involved cleaning personnel working at government ministries while being employed by a cleaning service company.
"Young people entering the labour market and workers who have lost their jobs often have no choice but to accept this form of employment," she says.
"It's essential that all workers are ensured decent work," says Senčur Peček, adding this goal is still as relevant as it was a century ago when the International Labour Organisation was established.