On 28 May 2008, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Act ratifying the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the Government of the Republic of Serbia on the Employment of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia. The Protocol on the Implementation of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Serbia on the Employment of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia was ratified at the same time.
The provisions of the Agreement and the Protocol shall enter into force on the first day of the second month following the receipt of the official note, which must be sent by the Republic of Slovenia. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Labour, it is expected that the provisions of the Agreement and the Protocol will enter into force this autumn.
Until the Agreement enters into force, the employment of Serbian citizens in Slovenia shall remain regulated by the Foreigners Act and the Employment, Self-employment and Work of Foreigners Act, pursuant to which third-country nationals must obtain a unified work and residence permit in order to work in Slovenia. The provisions of both mentioned acts shall continue to apply to all Serbian workers who do not fulfil the conditions laid down in the Agreement, as well as to Serbian citizens who are already employed or working in Slovenia at the time the Agreement will enter into force.
The Agreement shall represent a legal frame for the employment of Serbian citizens who are registered in unemployment records in Serbia and are over 18 years of age. Serbian citizens who will work in Slovenia as professionals and will be chosen by Slovenian employers will be able to work based on the provisions of the Agreement even if the will not fulfil the condition of unemployment. The annual quota of accepted foreign workers may be determined by the Ministry of Labour; however, at the moment, no such quota has been determined.
The selection procedure shall be initiated by Slovenian employers by a registration of a job vacancy at the Slovenian Employment Service. The Agreement enables the employment of individual employees and employment based on selection from a pool of candidates. In any situation, the employment contract must be concluded for full-time employment and for a period of at least one year.
After receiving the registration of a job vacancy, the Employment Service will verify whether there are appropriate candidates in the Slovenian unemployment records and verify the fulfilment of the conditions for new employment, as stipulated in Article 17 of the Employment, Self-employment and Work of Foreigners Act. If the conditions are fulfilled, the Employment Service will inform the employer thereof and send forms with information on the employer and the job vacancy to the National Employment Service of the Republic of Serbia. The entire procedure of advertising the job vacancy, as well as notifying, inviting and selecting candidates will be conducted in Serbia. In the event of individual employment, the selected individual will be invited to sign the employment agreement and to submit the necessary documentation in order to demonstrate the fulfilment of the conditions for employment.
The Slovenian employer shall apply for a work permit and shall bear all the related costs. The work permit, issued in accordance with the Agreement, does not enable residence in Slovenia. Therefore, foreign workers will have to obtain residence permits in a separate procedure by filing an application at the Slovenian embassy in the Republic of Serbia. Slovenian employers will also be able to file for resident permits at the competent administrative units in Slovenia.
The employment contract must be concluded for a minimum period of one year, whereby a probationary period of up three months may be applied. The work permit will be issued for a period of three years with the possibility of prolongation for an additional three years.
Upon the expiration of the employment contract concluded for a period of one-year, foreign workers will have free access to the Slovenian labour market. However, they will have to find new employment within 30 days, or until their right for compensation for unemployment expires, otherwise they will have to return to Serbia.
The Agreement will facilitate access to the Slovenian labour market for certain categories of foreign workers. Work permits will be issued for longer periods in comparison to the current legislation. Furthermore, foreign workers will obtain free access to the Slovenian labour market faster – currently, such a right is obtained after 20 months of employment over a period of two years.
A similar agreement with Bosnia and Hercegovina is already in place. According to the Ministry of Labour, such international agreements improve the rights of foreign workers. However, this is evidently not the case. In the last couple of years, we are witnessing reports of serious violations of foreign workers’ rights – i.e. salaries and social contributions not being paid, violations of the provisions on overtime work and breaks, offsetting costs related to work permits and deducting these amounts from salaries, terrible living conditions etc.
A large part of the problem is that foreign workers are mostly unaware of the applicable legislation and are poorly informed about their rights. According to data from the Report of the Labour Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia for 2018, each year the Labour Inspectorate handles a significant number of cases related to the work of foreigners; however, in comparison to 2017, when 45 violations were established, the Labour Inspectorate established only 29 violations in 2018. Unfortunately, these figures do not reflect the actual situation on the market, as more and more foreign workers come to work in Slovenia each year, while only 48 inspectors are responsible for supervision in the field of employment relations, where 215,354 business entities are currently registered. Due to severe understaffing and workload, the inspectors mostly perform supervisions based on filed reports.
The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.