The Slovenia Times

Temping likely to become more restricted


The Slovenian government has indicated it will introduce new measures to curb temporary work, a popular practice, after chambermaids at a state-owned hotel chain protested against being outsourced and after criminal complaints were filed against two temping agencies.

Temp hiring was legalised in Slovenia in 1998 and four years later basic criteria for this were established. Under the law, temp workers are eligible for the same payment and work conditions as those hired directly by the company outsourcing them.

Workers in an unequal position

However, a study presented at the upper chamber of parliament recently by Maja Breznik, a researcher at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts and the Peace Institute, shows that temps are stigmatised, feel unequal, and wish to work directly for the company they work at.

They work unfavourable hours, for example night shifts, do a lot of overtime, and are forced to sign successive short-term work contracts. They usually work lower positions than they are qualified therefore earning €70-100 less a month, Breznik said.

Only their basic salary is paid as salary, while the rest is paid as lunch or commuting allowance, or another tax-free form of payment. Their bonuses are lower than specified in collective bargaining agreements.

Breznik said temp workers' collective rights leave much to be desired. It is hard for them to unionise and the work agreements she was allowed to see suggest they are paying compensation for "unjustified absence" from work.

The salaries are confidential, therefore they cannot assert their collective rights. "Temp workers are second-class workers with no collective rights," Breznik believes.

In 2013, the Labour Ministry attempted to curb the anomalies by limiting the share of temps to 25% of a company's total workforce and the companies have a subsidiary responsibility to pay the temps.

However, this quota does not include those who work for the temp agency on open-ended contracts and small businesses are exempted from this restriction.

High share of temporary workers

Despite this attempt to curb temp hiring, it has only grown more popular, including through illegal job agencies.

According to official data from the Agency of Public Records (AJPES), there were 288 temping companies registered in Slovenia. The number has been close to 300 for the past few years, significantly more than the 207 registered in 2010.

Data from the Institute of Macroeconomic Development and Analysis (IMAD) shows that profits of human resources companies had reached EUR 11.2 million in 2021, the most recent data available, in what was an increase of nearly 50% over the year prior.

A record profit of a total of EUR 12 million was reported by temping agencies in 2017. In 2010, their total profit was at EUR 3.2 million.

The number of people employed by temping agencies has increased significantly as well. IMAD data shows a first marked increase after the 2013 reform. By 2021 these companies employed over 14,000 people. The number was highest in 2017, at over 18,000.

New restrictions coming

Breznik said that in the EU, Slovenia has been "breaking sad records" in temp hiring over the past few years. The combined number of temp and student workers exceeds 5% of the workforce.

The Ministry of Labour now wants to impose stricter temping regulation. A draft bill, which has not been officially published yet, proposes additional regulation for large employers under which temps could only make up 15% of their workforce.

Furloughed temps will no longer be eligible for 70% of minimum wage but 80% of the salary they received the month before if the bill is passed.

State Secretary Dan Juvan has said that the ministry wants to curb temping, and secure better rights for temps and a better definition of temping. It also wants to tackle the presence of foreign temping agencies in Slovenia.

The announcement came in response to news that two Slovak temping agencies had been rampantly breaking rules in hiring their workers out to one of Slovenia's largest retailers. The inspectors have handed the case over to the police.

And chambermaids in a major chain of hotels currently owned by the state have spent weeks protesting against being outsourced, prompting trade unions to urge the government to severely curtail the practice.


More from Economy