Third stimulus bill brings EUR 1bn in part-time work subsidies

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Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj presented the scheme to the Economic and Social Council (ESS), after which the country's main industrial relations forum set up two task forces to go over the bill over the weekend.

Talking to the press about the part-time work subsidies, Cigler Kralj said that the idea was for the state to use EU funds to fund up to half of working hours of individual workers until the end of the year.

This night, the government announced the end of the epidemic, which means that the measures currently available to businesses will no longer be in place on 1 June. The cabinet hopes to send the bill to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The measure is to be available to all industries and is said to cover all the needs of the economy and the labour market. However, employers already said today that the existing subsidizing of furloughed workers' paychecks must remain in place.

Cigler Kralj said that the ministry believed the planned measure would be sufficient, however, the department was willing to hear employers' arguments and will discuss their proposal.

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The Chamber of Small Crafts and Business (OZS) above all is worried that the furlough subsidies would be scrapped. Its president Branko Meh told the press that some of the chamber's members were on their knees and will have no work until the end of the year.

The OZS thus proposed to the government that both co-funding options should be available and the companies could decide to use one or the other.

Cigler Kralj highlighted tourism vouchers aiming to help the sector. The vouchers for consumers are not meant as replacement for holiday allowance, which was one of the ideas tabled in the past months.

The minister also said that work permits for seasonal workers from abroad would be extended because Slovenia is facing a significant shortfall of seasonal workers.

While the government hopes to send the bill to parliament at the beginning of next week, trade unions refuse to give in to what they believe is time pressure.

Lidija Jerkič of the biggest trade union confederation, the ZSSS, said that the measures must be coordinated with all social partners, "or else we will not consider this to be social dialogue".

This was echoed by Jakob Počivavšek of the Pergam trade union. "Trade unions have made it clear that we expect another ESS session to take place after the two task forces are done."

They both expressed criticism about social dialogue and the fact that the ESS's first meeting took place more than two months after the current government took office.

Jože Smole, the head of the Employers' Association, was happy that social dialogue had been established again. He underlined the need for the third stimulus package and said the bill must be passed before 1 June, when the current measures will no longer be available.

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