20. 1. 2020

Higher minimum social welfare payment and improved social position of the unemployed

On 29 November 2019, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Law on Amendments to the Labor Market Organization Act (ZUTD-E), which has been in force since 27 December 2019. The goals of the amendments are to ensure people find gainful employment more quickly, improve the position of those in receipt of social welfare, help find employment for and reintegrate foreign unemployed persons who do not know Slovenian, introduce fines for unemployed persons that fail to actively seek employment, etc.

The most notable change, however, is that the ZUTD-E raises the minimum social welfare payment to a minimum of EUR 530.19 (previously EUR 350.00) per month.

No later than January 1, 2021, a measure will enter into force aimed at increasing work activity and limiting precarious work, i.e. an increase in the duration of pensionable service that an insured person must have in order to be eligible for unemployment benefit. An insured person claiming benefits will have to have at least 10 months of pensionable service (previously at least 9 months) in the last 24 months, and insurance that has already been considered in the fulfillment of this condition will not be included in the insurance period.

Persons eligible for old-age and occupational retirement benefits may not qualify for unemployment benefits, since they are already covered. Notwithstanding the above, the ZUTD-E introduces other arrangements aimed at facilitating both older unemployed persons and pensioners to find gainful employment. Namely, there are changes to the duration for which older unemployed people are entitled to receive unemployment benefit. Employees who are over 53 years old (previously 50 years old) with more than 25 years pensionable service will be eligible to receive unemployment benefit for 19 months, while employees older than 58 years old (previously 55 years old) with more than 28 years pensionable service will be eleigible to receive unemployment benefit for 25 months.

In addition, provisions on temporary and casual retirement work have been broadened to include entice pensioners back into the labor market. The general rule that a pensioner is allowed to complete a maximum of 60 hours of temporary or casual work in a single calendar month remains, but the ZUTD-E adds an exception to this provision. Pensioners will be able to work more than 90 hours in any given calendar month, up to three times a calendar year. However, the total number of hours in a calendar year that a pensioner may work remains unchanged, despite the possibility of them increasing their monthly hours (i.e. maximum 720 hours). New restrictions have been placed on the number of hours a pensioner can work with any given employer. Employers employing between 100 and 500 workers may now have up to 1,500 hours of work performed by pensioners, while employers employing more than 500 and up to 1,000 employees may now have up to 2,250 hours of work performed by pensioners, etc.

Another notable change is the new condition requiring homeless persons be included in active employment policy measures by their personal advisor, namely enrollment in a Slovene language course that covers at least the A1 proficiency level. This additional condition is used for citizens of third countries (i.e. citizens of countries that are not members of the EU or the EEA or persons who are not citizens of the Swiss confederation), whereas for citizens of countries that are EU member states or members of the EEA, or for Swiss confederation citizens participation in an A1 Slovene language course is an additional way of demonstrating that they are seeking employment actively. Unemployed person will need to present their personal advisor with a publicly valid certificate as proof of successful completion of the Slovenian language exam.

Author: Ana Porenta Vran, Attorney at law
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