Thursday, 16 September 2021

Minister Aladrović: 50,000 More Pension Contribution Payers Now Than Last Year

ZAGREB, 16 Sept 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrović informed the parliament on Thursday that despite all the challenges, Croatia had registered roughly 50,000 more pension insurees at the end of August than a year before and also 9,000 more than at the end of August 2019.

Minister Aladrović underscored these figures while presenting the draft amendments to the minimum wage legislation, which were supported by lawmakers.

The draft amendments envisage the stipulation of the gross minimum wage and also fines for employers who pay wages lower than the defined minimum wage.

Commenting on trends in gross minimum monthly payments, the minister noted that at the end of 2013, the gross minimum pay was HRK 2,984 and it rose to HRK 3,120 at the end of 2016,  which meant that during the term of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) government it rose only by 4.5% or by 135 kuna.

During the term of this government, it increased from HRK 3,120 to 4,250 or by HRK 1,130, he said.

The net minimum pay rose from HRK 2,496 to HRK 3,400 or by 904 kuna that is by 36.2%, he stressed and added that this June the average net monthly wage was HRK 7,175.

Aladrović said that the growth in the minimum wage was evident, however, some shortcomings had been spotted and the draft amendments were aimed at correcting them.

Parliamentary deputies welcomed the proposed changes, and some of them warned that there were still some employers who paid only the gross minimum pay, while they gave the difference to a higher earned pay directly to workers or they denied the right of employees to free days.

(€1 = HRK 7.470695)

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Who Exactly Will Continue to Receive Aid? Minister Aladrovic Reveals Plans

September the 1st, 2021 - As Croatia prepares to further loosen its measures and allow the currently closed off parts of coffee bars, restaurants and cafes to work as normal as of today, Minister Aladrovic has spoken out about which sectors can expect what in terms of aid, if anything at all.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic announced the reduction of state aid to sectors that have achieved good business results, as well as the continuation of aid to those who still desperately need it, as was further detailed previously.

"This is no longer the situation on the labour market and in the economy in which we need to continue to have very intensive support from the state," said Minister Aladrovic, adding that with more than 12 billion kuna in net support for enterprises and their employees paid out, the pool of those who actually do need that help is decreasing, according to a report from H1.

Depending on the unfolding epidemiological situation, he said, in the coming months there will be a further reduction in aid.

"Certainly, some of those who received intensive support from the government will now, due to changed economic circumstances, believe that they can continue on their own, with the retention of jobs and the retention of business substance and everything that was exposed due to reduced business activity," Minister Aladrovic explained.

He pointed out that the state will continue to support those who need it the most, adding that they have held consultations with various social partners and announced another round of consultations, saying that by the end of this week, they will inform which sectors these new decisions on the paying out of government aid will apply to.

"What we can now say that we see as the most exposed activities are those sectors that are related to extremely large gatherings, the organisers of sporting events, cultural events, the event industry itself, travel agencies… Other sectors that are now able to work at full capacity no longer require that same state support and therefore we will go in the direction of reducing state support where it isn't most needed,'' said Minister Aladrovic, adding that he does not believe there will be additional restrictions introduced anymore.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Minister Aladrovic Reveals Who Will Continue to Receive Economic Support

August the 29th, 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic has revealed who the Croatian economic support created by the government as a result of the pandemic will continue to go to, and who it no longer will. Minister Aladrovic also announced a rise in both wages and pensions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, economic aid for Croatian companies will remain in place only for those who continue to be the most vulnerable to the pandemic and to any introduced anti-epidemic measures, announced Minister Aladrovic. He stated that because of the easing of the country's epidemiological measures, he sees no reason to continue to stimulate individual employers.

Minister Aladrovic also stated that aid will continue to be paid out to the organisers of sport and cultural events, the event industry, and perhaps the hardest hit of all - travel agencies.

"So, this will keep being paid out to a relatively small segment of our society, but to those who are most exposed," said Minister Aladrovic as a guest on Dnevnik Nova TV, adding:

"If there are economic disruptions again, which we hope won't occur, we're still ready to help those to whom the disruption occurs," he said, calling once again for people to get vaccinated as the best way to preserve both public health and the domestic economy.

As for the much talked about reforms, Minister Aladrovic said that they have been implemented and that he will continue to implement them, but he didn't give a concrete answer as to when concrete reforms in the healthcare system, public administration, or the judiciary will start. He pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down certain reforms, but he remains confident that the Government will implement them by the end of its term.

He added that it is difficult to assess whether rising prices will push certain vulnerable individuals even further into poverty.

"What is good, is that salaries are rising," said Minister Aladrovic, adding that pensions are also rising. The average pensioner will receive about 60 kuna more per month, and Aladrovic says that it is equal to almost a billion kuna annually for the state budget.

He didn't bother to properly answer the question as to whether or not it is fair for the average pension to increase by around 60 kuna, and for members of parliament to have theirs increased by as much as 230 kuna. Aladrovic briefly stated that "harmonisation takes place in accordance with the legislative framework".

''Aware of the inadequacy of certain types of pensions, we've decided on a new way of calculating family pensions that are the least adequate and we'll do all that in the next step. The lowest pensions have been increased by more than 20 percent. I'm sure that movements within the pension system will also prevent any increase in poverty,'' said Minister Aladrovic.

Speaking about the Labour Law, Minister Aladrovic said that two things are changing, the relationship between fixed-term contracts and indefinite contracts.

''We want to reduce the number of fixed-term contracts and allow those who want to work more to be able to do that,'' he said.

For more, follow our politics section.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Minister Says Croatian Labor Market Stable and Has Recovered From COVID Crisis

ZAGREB, 18 Aug 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrović said on Wednesday that the labor market was stable and had recovered from the corona crisis.

"The data for the first 15 days in August show that we are going in the right direction. We are switching from job preservation to job creation," Aladrović told the press while arriving at a meeting of the inner cabinet.

The minister is hopeful about retaining record high levels in employment since official statistics started to be kept 21 years ago.

In the period to come, the biggest challenge will be finding skilled manpower, said Aladrović who expects a rise in workers' pay.

However, the situation with the corona crisis still requires caution, and some branches of the economy will continue to need grants to keep jobs, according to his explanation.

As for August, we do not have any intensive requests from employers' associations, and a strong rebound can be perceived. A strong tourist season has positively impacted the labor market and businesses, he added.

The minister added that the talks would soon be held with the Croatian Employers' Association and trade unions on who would be eligible for the job retention grants in August.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Minister Pushes for Higher Vaccination Rate, Says Croatia Can't Afford New Lockdown

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrović said on Thursday that Croatia cannot afford a new lockdown because that would additionally burden the budget and economy, stressing that the time has come to separate responsible people from irresponsible ones but also to find a way to motivate citizens to be inoculated.

"We cannot afford a new lockdown scenario and limited economic activities because that would additionally exhaust the state budget and additionally burden our economy. In those cases, which we wish to avoid with our measures, we could bring into question the forecast of economic growth, we have planned," Aladrović told reporters in Parliament House.

He noted that Croatia has been struggling with the coronavirus pandemic for 16 months and that now it is "time to separate the responsible from the irresponsible, to stimulate responsible employers and workers."

COVID certificates - third criteria to receive govt support 

He underscored that during talks with unions and employers, the ruling majority proposed that, in addition to a decrease in revenue, and the exposure of certain sectors, third criteria should be introduced to receive COVID support, and that would be a COVID certificate. Talks in that regard will continue next week.

"In that way, we will preserve health and protect the economy. We should not neglect the fact that we are in the tourism season. We are now reaching the peak of the season and our tourism season depends on the responsibility of all Croatian citizens, and in particular, those working in the service sector, as potentially, does our future and our economy," claimed Aladrovič.

A current issue being discussed with social partners refers to 100,000 workers who are eligible for COVID grants, recalling that in April last year, during the lockdown, as many as 600,000 workers were eligible for support measures.

These are the risks we wish to eliminate in this way, said Aladrović, convinced that a consensus will be reached with social partners about the grant eligibility criteria and vaccination.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Aladrović: 55,000 More People Employed Than in 2020, 4,000 More Than in 2019

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović said on Thursday that Croatia had 55,000 employed persons more than last year and 4,000 more than in 2019, which was the year with the highest total number of employed persons since 2008, that is the last economic crisis.

We have slightly over 120,000 unemployed persons on the labor market, the minister said in parliament presenting a legal solution according to which family pension beneficiaries would have the right to work part-time and receive the full amount of pension.

Citing data from the Croatian Pension Insurance Insitute (HZMO), he said that there had been 216,000 family pension beneficiaries in June, mostly widows and widowers, and their pension had been HRK 2,094 on average, which is lower than the average pension.

At the risk of poverty

In 27% of cases, the surviving spouse is at risk of poverty, the minister stressed, explaining that amendments to the Pension Insurance Act seek to reduce the risk of poverty for pensioners, as well as fill gaps in the labor market.

Nada Murganić (HDZ) welcomed the amendments, recalling that family pension beneficiaries often left their jobs to take care of family members or look after the children. This will enable them to return to the world of work, she said.

Although MPs support the government's proposal that family pension beneficiaries be allowed to work and receive a pension, some of them fear that this could harm the unemployed, and some warn that this will not bring much momentum to the labor market.

Labour shortage, especially shortage of skilled workers, is one of the challenges Croatia is facing, and one of the ways to overcome it is to activate everyone who wants to work and has a specific knowledge, the minister told Anita Pocrnić Radošević (HDZ).

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Josip Aladrovic on Government Aid: Time to Separate Responsible from Irresponsible

July the 4th, 2021 - Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic has stated that it is time to separate those who are responsible and those who aren't when it comes to handing out government economic support to businesses, echoing comments about the link between being vaccinated and receiving government support made by the Prime Minister recently.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the announced possible denial of job preservation/economic aid to companies where workers haven't been vaccinated has provoked many reactions, Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic was among those who offered their view on it.

''As far as harmonisation with the law is concerned, we haven't had any problems with harmonising everything from epidemiological measures to economic measures with the law. Everything was done in full accordance with the law. I'm sure that in the dialogue with the unions and employers, we'll find some good arguments in this case as well, and a quality and legal solution,'' Josip Aladrovic said for RTL.

''We have several models that we're going to present to unions and employers. What's certain is that we have all borne the burden of this crisis. Therefore, everyone living in the Republic of Croatia, all taxpayers financed this crisis with 34 billion kuna. Now is the time to separate those who are responsible from those who are irresponsible, to encourage accountability through vaccination and a greater level of integration of economic and epidemiological measures. And epidemiological measures now mean, in translation, vaccination,'' said Aladrovic.

''We need to be aware that we're in a health and economic crisis. To overcome this we need to raise the level of vaccination so that the tourist season isn't jeopardised at this time, and the economy as a whole and beyond can remain stable. We need to integrate the vaccination process with our economic measures,'' he said.

"This is an affirmative way, not a way to penalise those who don't want to get vaccinated, but we'll arrange our economic measures so that they help those most responsible,'' the minister said.

Does this mean that those who will have one or two unvaccinated people in their company won't be able to count on measures at all, or will that only be the case for those unvaccinated employees?

''It’s too early to say what the model will look like. We'll present it to employers and unions as equal partners in this crisis first, and then we'll know what its final appearance will look like, which will certainly be legal and constitutional, and which will affirmatively promote vaccination in order to minimise damage to the economy,'' he said.

''Employees of my ministry are certainly not all vaccinated, about 50 percent of them are if I'm not mistaken according to the latest estimates, which is slightly more than the average of the Republic of Croatia. But we're affirmative towards all state and public services and we'll also have to find a way for public and state services to function in the future and make a very clear distinction between the rights and obligations of those who are vaccinated and those who aren't,'' assured Josip Aladrovic.

''We will award economic aid to those who are most responsible in society. So, it's affirmative, that those who are most responsible can more easily cope with the economic crisis, that is, the business difficulties they face. As for penalisation, so far we haven't prescribed the obligation to get vaccinated nor have we penalised anyone. We now have a lot of critics on these measures. However, we talked a lot in this study about the measures when they were introduced, and we had an equal number of critics then. Now we have 56,000 more employees than last year, 4,000 more than in 2019, which was the strongest economic year since 2008,'' he added.

If the Government has failed to motivate all public and public sector employees, how do you expect any of the private employers to succeed in motivating their people?

''I expect the motivation to be the same for everyone. Today, we have a million and a half vaccinated citizens, a million and a half taxpayers who have taken joint responsibility for overcoming the pandemic, the economic crisis and the public health crisis. We must make sure other people follow the same path,'' he said.

''So far we're at the level of 11.7 billion kuna, with contributions that amount stands at almost 17 billion kuna. We covered 700,000 people and 120,000 employers. As the weather improves, the pressure on the measures decreases. But we must point out that for April and May, the projected cost is 400 million kuna. Intensive support to certain sectors is still needed. But we have to allocate these funds in a much better way, we have to allocate them to those who need them the most, we aren't running away from that,'' Josip Aladrovic concluded.

For more, follow our politics section.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Minister Josip Aladrović Says Union Tax Only a Proposal

ZAGREB, 5 May, 2021 - Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović on Wednesday denied reports that "a union tax" would be introduced, noting that media had wrongly interpreted the social dialogue on the new labour law and that that was just one of the proposals. 

"I must specifically decline the possibility of introducing a so-called union tax in the form that the media tried to depict it," Aladrović told reporters after a meeting of the inner cabinet.

As for speculation that the government could accept the union proposal for the introduction of such a tax, that is, obligatory payment of a union membership fee even for workers who are not union members, Aladrović said that "the media had misinterpreted the social dialogue."

In the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and talks with unions on the new labour law, the government has decided to strengthen and encourage social dialogue and collective bargaining but that does not mean that all proposals are automatically accepted, he said.

"Certain proposals and solutions have been interpreted as if they are going to go into force immediately, but that is only one negotiating possibility, one of the proposal by workers and nothing more," said the minister.

He added that consultations with unions and employers on the new labour legislation were finished, that agreement had been reached on many issues and that soon a task force would be set up to draw up a new law.

No comment on court ruling in case of gay couple's motion for adoption 

Aladrović would not comment on the Zagreb Administrative Court ruling in the case of life partners Mladen Kožić and Ivo Šegota, stressing that it was a non-final ruling.

The Rainbow Families association of LGBTIQ couples and individuals who have or want to have children said earlier in the day that the court had decided that Kožić and Šegota had been discriminated against when in 2016 they were prevented from undergoing the process of evaluation for adoption.

In 2020 the two men were granted the right to provide foster care.

The association's president, Daniel Martinović, said the court ruled that the two men must not be discriminated against because they are life partners.

The ruling, Martinović said, confirms that life partners in Croatia can adopt.

He noted that the ruling was still not final and expressed a wish for the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy not to appeal against it, thus respecting a Constitutional Court ruling of 2020 in which the court concluded that everyone should be enabled to participate in the provision of  foster care under equal terms.

"We saw the ruling this week, we are still analysing its effects and legal possibilities," said Aladrović.

He noted that the HDZ party had expressed its political position on the matter through the Family Act and the Foster Care Act.

"We will act in line with decisions of Croatian courts, but this is only a non-final ruling," said the minister.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Monday, 3 May 2021

Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic Discusses Refined Labour Law

May the 3rd, 2021 - Croatian Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic sat down to listen to the concerns both employers and employees have had to deal with throughout the pandemic, touched on the regulation of remote work and telework, and offered assurances about the refined Labour Law.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions, Kresimir Sever, said on a recent HRT show that employees aren't in the center of attention, as was the case in previous years, because the coronavirus crisis has become a much more important topic. He added that workers' problems have been set aside, but they exist and they are very much still there.

''What's worse is that because of the coronavirus crisis, they've even intensified, the government has managed to stop most layoffs with its measures. However, a lot of other things were swept under the carpet. People are being forced to work from home, but without the addition of what's stipulated in an employment contract. Nobody asked them if they had the conditions for carrying out such work from home at all or not,'' Sever pointed out.

Sever also said some employers have taken workers from their annual leave in order to work from home, and some workers have been forced into annual leave. He said that the government paid four thousand kuna in wages for their job preservation measure, and some employers put their workers on the minimum wage, keeping the difference to themselves.

Sever emphasised that things were exceptionally difficult for people back during that time, especially because people lacked much needed social contact. The president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions also pointed out that back at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, some workers worked even without protective equipment. The workers also had a fear of losing their jobs, become unwell, and even death.

''Only now can people see how important a worker is, without a worker... there's nothing,'' he added.

Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic said when he listened to the president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions, Kresimir Sever, who noted that the situation looked quite negative, and that he thought he was exaggerating. Sever replied to Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic that these were not exaggerations, but that people truly are afraid.

He said that the formal phase of the adoption of the Labour Law is beginning, and that it will minimise the problems that Sever had been talking about.

''The situation isn't all that black, but yes, the situation could be made better,'' the Minister emphasised.

The director general of the Croatian Employers' Association, Damir Zoric, disagreed with Sever. He said if an employer is doing something wrong, that it is on them and not all employers should be generalised by those taking advantage of government measures.

''I'd rather say that the situation is as Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic said it was - there are negative phenomena everywhere, but in most cases in this pandemic, good work has been done together,'' he added.

He stressed that employers, not just workers, also have many fears. Zoric said that there are also issues with employees and not only employers, but fortunately such people aren't in the majority. He added that certain problems need to be solved, such as those surrounding the Croatian attitude towards teleworking, because it hasn't been included in the Labour Law. He pointed out that more than thirty percent of people in Croatia have been working remotely ever since the pandemic struck.

Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic then said that the new Labour Law would include the proper regulation of telework, and that the framework of that law had already been set out.

''This act will be a proposal for a new Labour Law, which should define the roles of employers and the role of workers, as well as their protection, in a much better way,'' Aladrovic emphasised.

For more, follow our politics section.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Aladrović: Ministry Stands Behind Administrative Findings in Little Girl's Case

ZAGREB, 26 April, 2021 - Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović said on Monday he supports a ministry report that identified omissions by welfare services in Nova Gradiška in the case of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl who died as a consequence of domestic violence, a report which contradicts expert reports.

The Chamber of Social Workers and Croatian Chamber of Psychologists conducted separate expert analyses of the case and concluded that the social workers and psychologists working on the case acted according to standards, while the ministry last Friday said that it would examine the findings and forward everything to the County Prosecutor in Slavonski Brod.

"We, as the ministry, support the administrative oversight findings. The oversight identified certain mistakes in procedure and the findings have been submitted to the County Prosecutor as will the results of the expert analysis. I cannot comment on who was wrong, the chamber or the ministry," said Minister Aladrović while presenting an action plan to improve the social welfare system.

He said that the ministry had immediately sent a supervision team which compiled a report that, he said, is an indicator of the efficient work of public administration and not hasty decision making. One of the reasons why the Chamber of Social Workers' report took longer was because the social worker involved in the case was COVID positive, he added.

He said the omissions identified by the ministry's supervision team were sufficient to dismiss the director of the welfare centre in Nova Gradiška. The ministry does not want to impact the chamber's findings but there isn't any third body that could determine any further procedures, he added.

"There currently isn't any legal framework on how to reconcile those two findings and conflicts," said Aladrović and added that the only thing he can do is to send all the findings to the County Prosecutor to see if there is cause for any other kind of responsibility.

Amendments to the Family Law not planned for this year

As far as amendments to the Family Law are concerned with regard to taking children from their birth parents, Aladrović said that that is a complex bill that wasn't planned in the government's legislative activities for this year and is not a priority, but "we are not unwilling to discuss the Family Law as well in the following period" because there is room for improvement.

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