Report on recent developments in the field of work of the CDDECS
Report of Slovenia, May 2015
Regarding The New Strategy for Social Cohesion as the capacity of a society to ensure the well-being of all its members to manage differences and divisions and ensure the means of achieving welfare for all members in period of austerity is very important act for Slovenia as well. In recent years the Government of Slovenia adopted some important documents to tackle inequalities in society. In the second half of 2013 and for most of 2014, the key economic and labour market indicators started to show a more encouraging picture, and Slovenia's gradual recovery from the grip of the economic and financial crisis. The improved results were mainly due to the growth of investments and exports.
Despite optimistic signals coming from the above-average increase in exports and the investment market, economic growth – which depends on the expansion of export markets – remains uncertain, which is also reflected in the social and economic position of Slovenia and its citizens. For this reason, it is essential that we continue, now and in the coming years, the implementation of systemic measures to strengthen domestic consumption and improve the competitiveness indicators in the business environment, and increase economic productivity as well as economic and social security. Persisting since 2008, the economic crisis has also affected various social rights. Due to soaring unemployment and diminished income among the general population, the number of people at risk of poverty has been increasing since 2009 (from 11.3% in 2009 to 13.5% in 2012). During this period, it has increased among all social groups and in all household types, with those without employed members and single-parent households being the most vulnerable. The risk is high also among people above the age of 65 (19.6% in 2012), especially elderly women living alone. The risk of poverty among children (up to 17 years of age) increased from 11.2% in 2009 to 13.5% in 2012. The share of persons who are severely materially deprived (by at least 4 out of 9 elements of deprivation) was 6.1% in 2009 and 6.6% in 2012. NGOs note the increasing number of persons without adequate health insurance.
Due to the harsh social situation, and despite adopting austerity measures for budget consolidation, the Government is trying to safeguard the rights and status of the most vulnerable population categories, i.e. socially and materially deprived groups. In its strategic documents (such as the Resolution on the National Social Assistance Programme 2013–2020, adopted by the National Assembly in April 2013) and the National Reform Programmes in reply to the Europe 2020 strategy at the national level, Slovenia is aiming to reduce the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 40,000 by 2020 (compared to 2008). In spite of the grave social situation, the system of social transfers is still quite effective in mitigating poverty. The effect of social transfers (pensions excluded) on reducing the risk of poverty in 2012 was 46.4%, ranking Slovenia among EU Member States with social transfers (pensions excluded) most affecting the risk of poverty rates (in 2012, the EU-28 average was 34.4%). Slovenia is still among those countries with relatively small inequalities in income distribution. In 2012, the Gini coefficient was 23.7% (the average for EU-28 was 30.6%).
In the reference period, legislative and policy activities related to preventing and combating trafficking in human beings were drafted in accordance with EU documents and guidelines. Most of the provisions of Directive 2011/36/EU have been transposed into national legislation. Article 113 of the Criminal Code, which deals with trafficking in human beings, was expanded to include a new mode of culpability. Apart from sexual exploitation, forced labour, enslavement and servitude, trafficking may also serve the purpose of the use of traded persons for the perpetration of offences (e.g. recruitment for street-theft). The first paragraph was amended to dispel any doubts as to whether trafficking in human beings with the consent of the injured person constitutes an offence. Since the victims of this offence are in a completely subordinate position, their consent is irrelevant due to the absolute inability to consent. In the second paragraph, “giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person” was included as an aggravated form of this offence. A more severe sentence in such cases is justified by the additional direct economic exploitation of control over people by selling or buying such control with the intention of committing offences of Article 113 of the Criminal Code, paragraph 1. The inclusion of additional elements in the definition of trafficking in human beings provides a more adequate basis for prosecuting all known forms of this offence and appropriate sentencing. A new third paragraph was added to Article 199 (Undeclared Employment), explicitly referring to the exploitation of victims of trafficking in human beings. Additionally, certain provisions of the Directive, particularly those not directly binding, have been partially transposed. There is no precise definition of “victims of trafficking in human beings”; assistance to victims is provided only on the basis of a contract with a civil society organisation as the provider of such programmes, while the status of the National Rapporteur is not properly regulated; in particular, it does not provide for the independent evaluation of measures.
New Parental Protection and Family Benefit Act to bring more rights
In 2013 The Government approved the draft Parental Protection and Family Benefit Act and referred it to the National Assembly under ordinary procedure. The rights which are regulated by the draft Act are part of the measures of a unified family policy, which is implemented via a variety of measures in different areas. The act connects individual policies and presents what the state’s social role is and how the vital cell of society – the family – cannot be ignored.
The rights to parental protection and family benefits are already regulated in current act at above-standard levels compared to other Member States. The solutions introduced by the amended act upgrade the existing rights.
On the EU level was established a European network of Ministers for Gender Equality, which should continue to act as a forum for the exchange of experience and good practice. The network would also play a leading role in promoting equal opportunities policies both at European and at global level. At the roundtable, the ministers discussed on equal participation of women in society, including in decision-making in politics and the economy, the ways and means for genuine autonomy of women, combating violence against women and the fight against sexism.
At the national level we are aware that active involvement of fathers into family daily life is very important and it has long lasting consequences regarding steady sharing of domestic and parental activities. Paternal leave is intended for fathers to be able share with the mother the child's care and protection during the child’s most sensitive period. This right is not transferable. Paternal leave lasts 90 days. The father must use the paternal leave:
The father may use paternal leave in a single time block or by individual days. If the father uses the paternal leave by days, the duration of the right is specified in working days in such a way that 70% of the relevant calendar days of paternal leave are recognized. This means that for 90 calendar days of paternal leave, there are 63 working days of parental leave, and for 15 calendar days of paternal leave there are 11 working days of paternal leave.
When the mother does not have the right to maternity leave and the father does not exercise this right, the father must use the right to 15 days paternal leave by the time the child is 77 days of age.
In the year 2014 16.689 fathers used paternal leave, in the year 2013 16.625 fathers used the paternal leave and in the year 2012 the number was a bit higher that is 17.468 fathers.
Parental compensations in Slovenia are: maternity benefit, paternal benefit, benefit for care and protection of a child and adoption benefit. Persons who have the right to parental leave and prior to the day of starting parental leave were insured for parental protection have the right to parental benefits. The right is also held by persons who do not have the right to parental leave if they were insured for parental protection for at least 12 months in the 3 years prior to exercising the right to parental compensation.
The right to parental compensation excludes receipt of other benefits under regulations governing health insurance and insurance against unemployment, payment of contributions because of working shortened working time because of parenthood and receipt of part pay for lost income. The right to receipt of other benefits is in abeyance during this time.
Those entitled to parental compensation that ceased employment during the period of duration of parental leave, are covered by compulsory pension and disability insurance, compulsory health insurance and insurance against unemployment and for parental protection. The contribution of the insured person is paid by the recipient and the employer's contribution by the Republic of Slovenia.
The right to work part-time is held by one of the parents who is caring for and protecting a child up to three years of age. One of the parents who cares for and protects two children may exercise the right to part-time working up the age of six years of the younger child. One of the parents who cares for and protects a child with a severe motor handicap or moderate to severe mentally handicapped child, may extend the right until the child is 18 years of age. The aforementioned right may be extended on the basis of the opinion of a medical commission.
Part time working must involve at least half of working obligations (20 hours a week). The right and the method of use of the right to part-time working because of parenthood are agreed by employer and employee by contract.
In 2010 and 2011, the Office for Equal Opportunities implemented the project Achieve Equality within Diversity, which included raising awareness of the Equal in Diversity – Getting There in society and pointing to the fact that no one should be exposed to discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic affiliation, disability, age, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation or any other personal circumstance. Guidelines for encouraging equality and protection against discrimination were drafted, workshops and training were organised for NGOs and civil servants at the national and local levels, and judges and state prosecutors, as well as an extensive media campaign aimed at raising awareness of the existence, prohibition and negative effects of discrimination, promoting diversity and multiculturalism and tolerance in general, irrespective of gender, nationality, race and ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The website was launched, which provides information about the project and basic facts about discrimination, together with tips and advice on what to do in cases of discrimination and the possibility of filing a petition for a case of alleged discrimination to be considered by the Advocate of the Principle of Equality. This information was also made available in leaflets published in 11 languages.
In addition to the Criminal Code, which, under certain conditions, defines public incitement to hatred and intolerance as an offence, such heinous acts are also prohibited by media legislation (the Media Act[i]), which explicitly prohibits the dissemination of programming that encourages ethnic, racial, religious, sexual or any other inequality, or violence and war, or incites ethnic, racial, religious, sexual or any other hatred and intolerance. Incitement to intolerance also constitutes an offence under Article 20 of the Protection of Public Order Act[ii], when violent and audacious behaviour, misbehaviour, damage to official inscriptions, markings or decisions, writing on buildings and the destruction of state symbols is implemented for the purpose of inciting national, racial, sexual, ethnic, religious and political intolerance or intolerance of sexual orientation.
In the period 2011–2013, the Culture and Media Inspectorate received four reports of alleged violations of the Media Act relating to the prohibition of hate speech and incitement to discrimination and intolerance through the media, but the inspection procedure was not initiated because no elements of hate speech were detected in the cases concerned. In 2011, the Inspectorate, having detected an alleged criminal offence of public incitement to hatred, violence or intolerance pursuant to the first and third paragraphs of Article 297 of the Criminal Code, committed through electronic publication, filed a criminal complaint against the responsible persons with the competent prosecutor’s office.
To prevent or limit hate speech and other illegal content on the Internet and in online media, the Slovenian Internet reporting portal Web Eye, Spletno-oko.si, for anonymous reporting of hate speech and other illegal content disseminated via the Internet has proved highly effective. To prevent or limit hate speech and other illegal content on the Internet and in online media, the Slovenian Internet reporting portal Web Eye, Spletno-oko.si, for anonymous reporting of hate speech and other illegal content disseminated via the Internet has proved highly effective. Spletno-oko.si operates under the Safer Internet Plus programme and the INHOPE organisation, and the Office of the State Prosecutor General, the police and representatives of mass media and other organisations actively involved in the protection of children's rights cooperate in this project as members of the advisory body. Since 2013, the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth has been coordinating the Council of Europe No hate speech movement campaign, a European youth campaign for human rights online. It includes youth structures and Council of Europe organisations involved with young people. Its activities focus on informal education, intercultural dialogue and hate speech.
The annual call for co-financing mass media programmes includes "the culture of public dialogue" as an objective. The part of the call aimed at programmes of special importance in the public and cultural interests of the Republic of Slovenia defined "ensuring compliance with the principles of cultural diversity, the principle of equal opportunities of sexes and promoting tolerance" as one of the criteria by which to assess individual projects submitted by the media. For reasons of freedom of expression of the media and protection of editorial independence, direct media interference by the state is not possible and not allowed.
The ethical behaviour of deputies is the responsibility of the National Assembly. Outside the scope of deputy immunity (e.g. outside National Assembly sessions), the prohibition of hate speech applies also to deputies.
Within biannual action plans in accordance with the National Programme for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men 2005–2013, Slovenia continued its endeavours to promote gender equality and stop discrimination against women.
In cooperation with the relevant partners, the Government carried out activities aimed at increasing the number of women in top-level positions and in decision-making in business and their empowerment in science and research. Among other things, the Office for Equal Opportunities organised a conference on the role of management in shaping non-discriminatory policies, together with eliminating gender-based discrimination; it conducted a survey on gender balance in decision-making positions in the business sector, organised a press conference titled Have we really tapped the full potential?, which focused on gender imbalance in decision-making positions, published a brochure under the same title, and cooperated with the Managers' Association – Women Managers' Section on drafting guidelines for encouraging equality in decision-making business positions.
Legislation stipulating a minimum quota of women and men on candidate lists contributed to an increased share of women in political decision-making positions. A draft law amending the National Assembly Elections Act is being considered; it envisages at least a 40 per cent share of women and men on candidate lists instead of 35 per cent and amends the rules on the composition of candidate lists. With the parliamentary elections on 4 December 2011, the share of women deputies increased considerably and women account for a third of all deputies in the National Assembly. On 27 February 2013, a woman was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia for the first time.
Following the 2010 local elections, the Office for Equal Opportunities commissioned an analysis to examine the impact of gender quotas on the electability of women. In the 2010 elections, 11.95% of women stood for mayor and 10 were elected (5%). The share of women on candidate lists for a seat on town and municipal councils has increased to 38%, with 23.26% having been elected. In areas where the Roma community autochthonously resides, one female councillor was elected among 18 Roma councillors. The Office for Equal Opportunities co-funded an analysis of the impact of electoral districts on the electability of women to the National Assembly. In 2011, it organised a Mentoring Day with a Female Politician in cooperation with the Government, the National Assembly and the universities of Ljubljana, Maribor and Primorska. It was intended to give female students an opportunity to familiarise themselves with politics, political life and active participation.
Equal pay for women and men for equal work is guaranteed by the Employment Relationship Act, which also incorporates the relevant recommendations of the International Labour Organization. The Government did not adopt any particular measures to reduce the male-female income disparity, except for awareness raising on the persisting gender pay gap and its causes on the occasion of European Equal Pay Day. The 2012 data show that the average pay of women was 4.6% below the average pay of men, making it one of the smallest disparities in the EU.
The prohibition of sexual harassment is regulated by the Employment Relationship Act. The Health and Safety at Work Act stipulates that at workplaces where there is higher risk of third-party violence, the employer must ensure such a design and equipment of the workplace that reduces the risk of violence and allows assistance to be provided at the workplace under threat. Pursuant to the Decree on measures for protecting the worker's dignity at work in state administration[iii], each authority must have at least one counsellor to provide information and assistance to victims.
The Government pursues various activities to identify and eliminate stereotypes, particularly by organising consultations, training and seminars, by drafting analyses and studies on the division of power between women and men in different areas, by encouraging fathers to assume a more active role in child care and equal division of tasks within the family, as well as responsible partnership and parenting.
The Republic of Slovenia withdrew from the Night Work (Women) Convention (ILO Convention 89), as the conditions are too limiting and imply discrimination. Despite the withdrawal, women workers will not remain without protection. The current legislation on night work guarantees special protection for night workers regardless of their gender and the tasks they perform.
Since 2004, a working group has been operating within the Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia which regularly analyses all cases of maternal death. Each case is scrutinised following a single protocol. Based on the findings, the group publishes a comprehensive report every three years, with recommendations for clinical and public health measures in the field of reproductive health, focusing particularly on the importance of socio-economic factors, the detection and treatment of mental disorders, and the need for education and awareness raising among the general public and medical professionals. In the 2010–2013 period, several symposia were dedicated to the main causes of maternal death in Slovenia, and the national association of perinatal medicine adopted clinical guidelines. The Ministry of Health co-finances programmes on reproductive health and reproductive rights at the national, regional and local levels. Since post-natal mental disorders and suicide are among the main causes of maternal death in Slovenia, in 2013 the National Public Health Institute published a draft programme for the detection and treatment of mental problems and disorders in the perinatal period, which will serve as the basis for further activities.
The issue of gender and gender mainstreaming must continue to be one of the core components in children's work. We all are aware that obstacles and risks are different regarding the gender. Another important area that deserves special attention is the role of humanitarian operations including in the time of transition from crisis and development. International presence and strong partnership with other humanitarian actors is crucial for the results on the ground. In this respect, we would also like to emphasis the critical role that education of children plays in humanitarian response strategies.
National campaign Vesna – A life free of Violence””
At national level Slovenia by the European Commission funds at the beginning of the 2014 started two years national project VESNA to improve the understanding and respect of gender equality and human rights – we address unwelcome i.e. violent attitudes and behaviour against women of different age groups (teenagers, adults and elderly). Besides that we are in the process of improvement organizations’ and individuals’ compliance with equality and human rights and duties since our activities derive from the obligation that everyone plays an important role in reducing gender based violence in the society. The overall purpose of the VESNA project is to upgrade and complement the efforts of state institutions and civil society for the establishing of conditions and circumstances for safe environment for women of different age groups.
At national level added value will be reached by addressing the preconditions for gender based violent behaviour. At the same time, parents need to be encouraged to have more responsible and quality parenthoods since parents are the ones who can do the most for the breaking of the chain of stereotypes and destructive behaviour patterns.
The desired added value for all these groups is them to obtain clearer awareness about their own beliefs, gender based stereotypes and behaviour patterns and to acquaint them to alternate behavioural patterns, which shall be based on mutual respect and the formation of a more responsible and quality partnerships, free of any form of gender based violence.
The VESNA project as the first overall national project dealing violence against women is the important upgrade to speed and promote activities to reduce violence which would be for the financial matter postponed for some years because we do not have financial resources in national budget to realize it. With this project we will strengthen and deepen cooperation with partners and NGOs.
Based on the initiative of the MLFSA two important intergovernmental groups have been established: the Intergovernmental expert group for family violence prevention activities and the Intergovernmental expert group for preparation strategic documents for children and youth. Both intergovernmental groups include representatives of the NGO sector as an important partner in tackling gender based violence.
The general objective is to build confidence and understanding of gender equality and human rights across the private, public sector and civil society.
Specific objectives of Vesna project:
Improved Slovenian legal protection of children from violence, exploitation and is the result of greater political commitment and strengthening of national policies and international standards. Violence against children is a problem without territorial borders. It is present in all societies and all strata.
Children and Youth
The Programme for Children and Youth 2013-2016 deals with childhood (defined as from birth until 14 years of age) that includes pre-school and primary school periods as well as adolescence that encompasses secondary school youth, aged between 15 and 19 years. The government of Slovenia is aware that a successful implementation of the Programme requires active participation of all sectors of the society – the government, the state administration, local communities, companies, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the support of the media as well as the activation of families, groups and individuals alongside direct active and responsible cooperation of children themselves. The Programme is the first comprehensive document and instrument of the Slovenian government for its future activities to improve the quality of life for children and youth in the Republic of Slovenia in the 10-year period. Drafting the Programme presents a challenge as children are citizens of our current and future society and supporting them is the society’s long term task and investment. Greater and more efficient implementation of children’s rights will undoubtedly contribute towards keeping intergenerational and thus social consensus and facilitate the development on all levels of democracy in our society.
The basic objective in Programme for Children and Youth is to provide to the highest extent possible the possibilities for quality free time experiences for all groups of children and youth.
Slovenian government co-finances non-profitable organizations that aim their programmes or parts thereof at enriching the offer of free-time activities. NGOs need to guarantee employment, education and training of tutors, animators and youth workers that will take part in free time activities. We ensured systemic solutions for co-funding programming costs, investment costs and payments for facilities where free-time activities take place.
We still did not ensure that in media production, targeted on children and youth, the public is informed in a suitable manner on the possibilities of quality and non-commercial free-time activities, on activities of groups and organizations for children and youth and on promotion of free-time activities. Special focus on co-financing programmes is placed on developing free-time activities for children and youth with special needs, socially threatened children and youth, children of immigrants and refugees, unaccompanied children and children from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Slovenia took in few past years some preventive campaigns on cyber-bulling issues because young girls and boys were not aware of the importance of this problem. Victims of cyber-bullying were left alone and through expansion of cases the government (Police) decided to make some important preventive steps.
In January 2014, the Government adopted a Youth Guarantee scheme together with an implementation plan for 2014–2015. Its key objectives are to provide for a smooth transition between school and work, the faster integration of unemployed young people in the labour market and reduction of the unemployment rate. By adopting the Youth Guarantee, Slovenia undertook to offer employment to every young person between 15 and 29 years of age (including internship), in-service training, enrolment in formal education or a shorter form of institutionalised or practical training within four months of signing on the unemployment register with the Employment Service of the Republic of Slovenia.
One of the main objectives of the recent labour legislation reform was to reduce labour market segmentation by amending legislation[iv] relating to the job security of indefinite contracts. Specific provisions on concluding contracts for a definite period and measures guaranteeing greater security for the most vulnerable groups were part of the reform. Another new legislative provision is the right to severance pay on the expiry of an employment contract for a definite period of time. Additional measures for reducing labour market segmentation are included in the new pension legislation. The amended Pension and Disability Insurance Act provides for employer allowances in employing elderly and young workers, mothers caring for a child under three years of age, and persons registering as self-employed for the first time. A specific issue that has to be tackled with regard to labour market segmentation is student work. The necessary measures are envisaged in the draft law on student work which is currently being considered by the Government. The Ministry expects to limit student work through the above and other measures, such as tax relief for employers who hire unemployed persons and benefit refunds upon the employment of young unemployed, resulting in an increased number of employment contracts.
By approving the Youth Guarantee in this year, the Government will ensure that every young person between 15 and 29 will be offered employment (including an internship), job-related training, formal training or shorter forms of institutional or skills-focused training within four months of registering as unemployed with the Employment Service of Slovenia. Measures against grey economy raise VAT revenues by 96 million Euros.
The main goals of the guarantee scheme are:
The Government has noticed that public opinion about the shadow economy, not only its economic but also social implications, has changed to some extent since the beginning of the campaign “Be smart, ask for a receipt!”. The public has begun to see that every individual can contribute to decreasing the extent of the grey economy, as this is the responsibility of everyone (consumers, companies and others), not only the authorities. The authorities must fight the shadow economy with pre-emptive actions and measures against tax fraud. The public is increasingly aware that tolerating the grey economy makes our position worse.
The campaign against the grey economy has yielded positive results, according to the figures compiled by the Ministry of Finance and the tax administration. According to the data, the voluntary payment of tax liabilities is increasing, while the number of recorded infringements established during inspections and the number of self-declarations is decreasing. Between August 2013 and March 2014, voluntary VAT payments totalled 96 million euros more than in the comparable period last year. Positive effects on VAT in individual sectors were already visible in 2013, while the trend continued in the first quarter of this year, as there has been a net increase in VAT revenue in 24 sectors compared to the first quarter of 2013, amounting to a total of 31.5 per cent (3.8. million euros).
The Government has also approved several pieces of legislation which will undoubtedly contribute to greater legal protection for workers.
The Prevention of Undeclared Work and Employment Act enables greater monitoring in the field and higher fines, and provides the basis for making the work of monitoring bodies more effective. Undeclared work and its advertising, providing and advertising undeclared employment and advertising illegal activities have been forbidden.
Persons with disabilities and their rights
In January 2014, the Government adopted the Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities 2014–2021, a follow-up to the 2006 Action Programme for Persons with Disabilities 2007–2013. It is aimed at promoting, protecting and guaranteeing the full and equal enjoyment of human rights of persons with disabilities and promoting respect for their dignity. The programme is based on 13 main objectives, with 91 measures which thoroughly regulate all areas of their lives. The main objectives include: awareness raising and information, housing and inclusion, accessibility, education, work and employment, financial and social security, health and health care, cultural expression, sports and leisure activities, religious and spiritual life, organisations of persons with disabilities, violence and discrimination, and aging with disability. An interministerial working group, which brings together the main professional institutions and representative organisations of disabled persons, was appointed to implement and monitor these objectives and measures. It reports to the Government annually.
Annex to the General Agreement on better accessibility and quality of healthcare services
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted Annex 1 to the General Agreement on healthcare services for the contract year 2014. The Annex creates 70 new posts for general practitioners at the primary level, a better evaluation of hospitalization treatments and therefore more time to focus on patients and high-quality treatment. The Annex also brings an expansion of the activities of forensic psychiatry by providing additional financial resources to the Psychiatry Ward of the UMC Maribor.
The key points are the following:
In the long term, this agreement introduces savings on the primary level and in particular more time to focus on the patient. As a consequence, there will be fewer referrals to specialists because doctors on the primary level will be able to provide more healthcare services.
Challenges still remain, especially in the light of the current financial and economic crises which tackle children the most. We believe that continuous consultations, performance analysis and evaluation of work will further contribute to successful implementation of our common goals and that we need a comprehensive approach for evaluation of progress and identification of new challenges. We are also aware that the survival, development and protection of vulnerable groups and population in general depend not only on national priorities and activities but at the same time on international organizations such as Council of Europe and its important committees and other expert bodies.
Lea Javornik Novak, M.Sc.
Member of CDDECS
[i] Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No. 110/2006
[ii] Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No. 70/2006
[iv] Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No. 21/2013