The government is proposing a set of legislative changes to facilitate recruitment of foreign labour force as Slovenia is grappling with staff shortages, looking to attract and retain talent.
Amendments to the foreigners act and the changes to the employment, self-employment and work of foreigners act seek to simplify procedures and cut red tape in procedures to obtain residence permits and registration certificates, which are required to employ foreigners.
The proposals are to be rushed through parliament because the country faces a staffing crisis and administrative procedures are taking too long.
“The task of this government is to substantially ease procedures to obtain work permits in Slovenia, in particular for those who are already here, to make it easier for them to decide to stay here,” Prime Minister Robert Golob said in announcing the changes on 7 March.
Addressing an event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he linked the efforts to what he described as “the biggest investment drive” in Slovenia’s history.
Apart from removing the administrative barriers in issuing temporary residence permits, the changes to the foreigners act adopted by the government on 9 March reinstate free Slovenian courses for foreigners.
The Interior Ministry said the proposal needs to be fast-tracked because changes to the financing of Slovenian courses will come into force at the end of April.
Slovenian courses will be again available free of charge to all those who were eligible for them before the most recent changes to the act stepped into force. The ministry estimates that the measure will cost the budget about one million euros this year.
Fewer applications, shorter procedures
The changes will also allow for residence permits and extensions to be issued per mail and fingerprints obtained upon issuing a residence permit to be stored for up to five years, meaning that they can be used when the permit is being extended.
The process of changing the employer will be easier for foreign residents as written confirmation by the administrative unit will no longer be needed.
Foreigners whose temporary protection status expires will be able to apply for a temporary residence permit in eight days. The means of subsistence will no longer be monitored.
Before the passage in parliament, the amendments will be discussed by the Economic and Social Council, the country’s main industrial relations forum.
The same goes for the changes to the work of foreigners act, which the government will confirm in a correspondence session after they are set out to social partners on 10 March.
The government proposes facilitating employment procedures for foreigners in public healthcare and social services to address the shortage of workers.
While their single residence and work permit is valid, foreigners would be able to change the employer, job or be employed with several employers merely with the consent of the Employment Service, and would no longer need the written approval of the relevant administrative unit.
The act would no longer apply to foreigners employed in the public sector as the government wants to address the shortage of staff, which is particularly acute in healthcare and social services.
The Employment Service would no longer issue its approval for jobs in the public sector because its procedures to determine education, language skills and qualifications of foreigners are complicated.
The government also proposes cutting short the time asylum seekers need to wait to exercise their right to free access to the labour market after obtaining the asylum seeker status from nine to three months.
The Employment Service received 54,000 applications for work permits in the first three quarters of 2022, which was as many as in the entire year before that. By the end of 2022, the number of applications was expected to reach 63,000, a new record.