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Outlook for student work in 2015...

2014-02

In the first quarter of 2014, a public debate was held on the proposed act on temporary and casual work of students and pupils, which is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2015 and should have a fundamental impact on the current regulation of temporary and casual work of students. The term "student work" also covers the temporary and casual work of pupils, which is far less common than work performed by students.

The proposed act contains a number of new solutions that reflect the main objectives of the proposed act, in particular: (i) the eradication of the abuse of student work and undeclared work, (ii) the implementation of the principle "every work counts" (for acknowledgement of years of service and/or insurance period) and (iii) the restriction of student work as a concept that has a negative impact on the number of jobs for permanent employment. In parallel with the aforementioned proposed act, a central record of enrolment (in the 2014/15 academic year) will be established and an amendment to the Higher Education Act will be finalised, the aim of which is to lower the number of fictitious enrolments. In addition to the measures aimed at reducing the number of persons with the status of student who in practice do not attend courses, the introduction of "quotas" at individual employers and the strict sanctioning of violators has been envisaged. It should be pointed out that the above-specified proposed amendments have gained substantial support from students, as well as the employers and the government.

The permitted scope of student work at an individual employer will depend on the number of full-time permanent employees in the previous calendar year, and will be set as a percentage of working hours completed by permanently employed workers. The restrictions shall apply to companies employing no less than six workers; start-up businesses, public institutes and humanitarian organisations will be fully exempt from the restrictions. An employer will thus be able to calculate the restrictions that apply to it based on its personnel records for the previous calendar year.

The proposed amendment also provides for a few changes that are expected to improve the legal and economic position of students who perform temporary and casual work, in particular: (i) a minimum gross hourly rate of EUR 4.5 (corresponding to a net hourly rate of EUR 3.8), (ii) the right of a student to recover payment from an intermediary solely based on a validated referral (entailing an increase in risk for intermediaries, i.e. student services that will assume the risk of employer default), (iii) the recognition of gained work experience when seeking their first job, and (iv) the introduction of the payment of pension and disability insurance contributions. The recognition of years of service alone can be deemed the most material amendment, by way of which student work moves closer to other forms of work in terms of content.

A significant factor in all of this is the fact that student work, regardless of the new mandatory fees, will not raise the cost of student work for an employer and may actually even cut these costs. The reason lies in the reduction of the concession fee, which is proposed at only 7.5%. However, the payment of contributions for pension and disability insurance will affect the net earnings of students, which will now be lower, given that students will be forced to pay 15.50% from the gross paid amount for the above-specified contributions. A referral approved by the employer, which similar to the past will continue to be issued by intermediaries, remains the contractual basis for student work. It is interesting to note, that the act in question prohibits intermediaries from issuing referrals for work at tax defaulting employers. Employers will be obliged to settle the invoice for student work, which will be issued by an intermediary after the completion of work or after the end of a specific month, within eight (8) days. The proposed act also provides for enhanced control of employers and student work intermediary and significantly higher fines for violators (ranging from EUR 7,000 to EUR 30,000 per breach for employers and between EUR 2,000 and EUR 7,000 per breach for the latter's responsible person). The introduction of a central record of temporary and casual work and other requirements, which will hinder student work or impose additional costs on employers from an administrative point of view, should also be highlighted.

...and other measures to tackle the grey market and undeclared work

The National Assembly is also discussing a proposed amendment to the Prevention of Undeclared Work and Employment Act (ZPDZC-1), which is also expected to enter into force on 1 January 2015.

The introduction of a voucher for personal supplementary work is one of the most noteworthy changes provided for by the proposed amendment. The voucher (as with referrals for student work) follows the principle that "every work counts", which means that now even such work is subject to the payment of contributions for health and pension insurance. Based on each voucher for a service provider, contributions will be paid by the client (the ordering party), who is required to pay EUR 7 for pension insurance and EUR 2 for health insurance for the worker. The proposed act specifies restrictions with respect to the type of work that is deemed personal supplementary work and the scope of such work that can be completed by the service provider, and with respect to the clients ordering such work (generally this type of work can only be commissioned by natural persons). The implementing regulation, which is expected to be adopted by 31 December 2014, is expected to set out which types of work will be deemed personal supplementary work.

The second set of new proposals relates to the control over the implementation of the act and envisages fines for breaching the act. Pursuant to the proposed act, further control competences will be transferred to the Customs Administration of the Republic of Slovenia, with fines increasing by 25% on average. Now it will also be possible to seize earnings that were gained via undeclared work. The proposal also provides for the introduction of a so-called "black list", where employers who unlawfully employ third-country nationals will find themselves. Blacklisted employers will not be able to participate in public procurement procedures.

In cases when an individual carries out work for an employer based on a civil law agreement or as temporary or casual work, the proposal also introduces the employers' obligation to keep a copy of the relevant agreement on hand at the workplace at all times.

In cases when an employer provides work to an individual without concluding any employment contract, it will be deemed that a full-time employment contract has indeed been concluded for an indefinite period (permanent employment), unless that person is already employed elsewhere. Whenever the duration of past employment cannot be established, it will be deemed that such employment lasted for three months, and the employer will be forced to acknowledge associated worker rights for this period and handover to the latter within three days a full-time employment contract, which has been concluded for an indefinite period of time.