The Slovenia Times

Committee Okeys Labour Reform Bill after Marathon Session



At the session the committee included in the employment relationships bill an opposition Social Democrats' amendment introducing minimum standards for economically dependent self-employed persons.

The amendment sets minimum standards for the self-employed persons who work mostly for one company (meaning that at least 80% of their annual income comes from that company) while they do not hire any workers.

These are mostly journalists, Labour Minister Andrej Vizjak said on Tuesday.

The proposal that was strongly supported by trade unions gives such persons more legal protection. However, the changes will only be in force until a systemic law is passed dealing with such forms of employment.

The committee meanwhile rejected an amendment filed by the opposition Citizens' List (DL) scrapping the current provision obligating employers to cover trade unions' membership fees for their employees upon request by taking the sum of their wage.

The DL believes that collecting membership fees should be trade unions' task and should not administratively burden the employer.

Secretary general of the Pergam trade union confederation Jakob Počivavšek said the proposal had not been subject to negotiation among social partners. He said he saw it as an attack on trade unions and their activities.

This was echoed by Branimir Štrukelj of the KSJS public sector trade unions confederation.

On the other hand, Alojz Selišnik of the Chamber of Craft Industries and Small Business, said that people paid a lot of bills on their own, including membership fees for various societies and chambers, so he could not understand why the trade union membership fee would be any different.

However, Rihard Braniselj of the DL eventually withdrew the proposal due to the disagreement among social partners.

The committee also rejected three amendment proposals concerning redundancy payments but endorsed one limiting the right to redundancy payment upon retirement. The measure should increase chances for employment to older people.

Under the government proposal, workers will be eligible for redundancy payments in the amount of one fifth of base pay - the average pay of the last three months - for every year of work if they have worked for the same company from one to 10 years, one fourth of base pay for working for the company for more then 10 years and one third for more than 20 years.

The DL proposed that the redundancy payments be unified to one fifth of base pay, regardless of how long the employee has worked for the company, which was the wish of employers.

The coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) meanwhile proposed shorter periods (1-5 years, 5-15 and over 15 years), which the unions were pushing for, while the SD wanted the provision scrapped which says that the amount of redundancy payment must not be higher than 10 times base pay unless the collective bargaining agreement says otherwise.

But Vizjak said redundancy payments were a "delicate matter" and should therefore be left alone and since trade unions and employers made no remarks, all three proposals were rejected.

The committee however did endorse a proposal on redundancy payments upon retirement, which has not yet been coordinated with the social partners.

The amendment, the result of negotiations so far, envisages that only employees working for the company for at least five years would be eligible for redundancy payment upon retirement, Vizjak said.

People who will start working for a company with five or less years until retirement will also not be protected from sacking. According to the minister, this will increase the chances of older unemployed persons getting a job, as currently they are often too expensive to hire.

Surprisingly, the committee also endorsed an SD-sponsored amendment filed at the request of the Slovenian Youth Council that scraps the provision that years of services are taken into account when deciding on redundant workers.

The committee will continue discussing the labour market reform today, when the other reform bill, the labour market bill, will go through second reading.

The National Assembly is to discuss the reform at the beginning of next month.


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