The Slovenia Times

Minister says he sought compromise on minimum wage


Ljubljana - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said on Thursday that, in preparing a proposal to raise the minimum wage in 2022, he wanted to find a compromise to please all social partners, as he responded to the criticism to the proposed 4.9% rise coming employers, trade unions and some political parties.

Cigler Kralj proposed on Wednesday a statutory minimum wage rise by 4.9% to EUR 1,074 gross as of 1 January, which is the same as the inflation rate in Slovenia in 2021.

The new amount is expected to be released in the Official Gazette on 20 January and will apply for work done from 1 January.

In deciding on the rise, the minister had taken into account the employment situation and the general situation in society; the uncertainties the coronavirus brings for the labour market and businesses; and relatively favourable macroeconomic forecasts, the ministry said in a written statement on Thursday.

The minister believes that together with the proposed income tax changes, the proposal is good, and called on all stakeholders to support it.

He stressed in the release that the government's income tax proposal brings lower taxation of labour, "which will result in higher net pay for all workers".

The vote on a bill that is to bring higher net pay through a gradual increase in the general tax relief was postponed in parliament in December to January's plenary.

The ministry now said that with the changes to the general tax relief, a minimum wage earner would receive EUR 160 more in 2022, EUR 320 more in 2023, EUR 480 more in 2024 and EUR 640 more in 2025.

"Everyone who works deserves higher pay, so I urge a prompt passage of the proposed income legislation. This too is a step forward in alleviating the consequences of the epidemic, which has severely hit many."

The ministry also said that out of the 21 EU member states that had the minimum wage legislated, only seven countries had a higher minimum wage than Slovenia.

It also noted that the minister had raised the minimum wage for 2021 from EUR 940 to EUR 1,024 gross.

Employers consider the 4.9% rise to be a major burden on businesses, fearing that energy-intensive companies and small businesses will be hit particularly hard.

They thus proposed that the state partly subsidise the minimum wage and that some changes be made to social contributions.

Trade unions, on the other hand, said the minimum wage should not take into account only inflation but also economic growth, pay growth in real term, a drop in unemployment, and especially recent price hikes.

They would like to see the minimum wage to rise by 10.65% or to EUR 1,133, with similar criticism coming from the centre-left Social Democrats (SD) and the Left.

Both parties are dismayed that the rise only reflects the inflation, while the legislation also allows taking into account the minimum cost of living.

However, the Left said the minimum cost of living had been last set in 2017 and had since remained at EUR 613, "which definitely does not reflect the situation now".

Both parties would thus like to update the methodology of calculating the minimum cost of living.

SD deputy Soniboj Knežak announced that "once a new government comes, which will be surely a centre-left one, we will propose changes to the minimum wage law" to reflect the actual situation and enable workers to rise above the poverty line.


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