Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Status of Ukrainians in Croatia Who Are Not Refugees to be Protected

June the 8th, 2022 - While there have been thousands of Ukrainian refugees enter Croatia since the Russian invasion of their country back in February this year, there are plenty of Ukrainians in Croatia who have been living and working seasonal jobs here since before the outbreak of war. Their status in the country, while different to that of refugees, is set to be clarified and fully protected.

As Morski writes, in accordance with the European Union (EU) directive, about 12,500 Ukrainian citizens have so far applied for and received temporary protection status in the Republic of Croatia. However, some Ukrainians, who have been living in Croatia for various reasons since last year, aren't entitled to this status.

Returning home to Ukraine is also not at all a solution for any of those individuals at this moment in time and it would be a travesty to push any Ukrainians in Croatia to make such a move. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) has made it very clear, all Ukrainians living in Croatia who want to secure their status - will be able to do so and will have their various situations solved.

Twenty-three-year-old Ukrainian Vita Perestiuk found a seasonal job in Zadar last summer, and she decided to stay in Croatia after the tourist season ended.

''I found a job in Istria, in agriculture, working in the vineyards. I was working there and then the war started, so my family came to Croatia, down to Dubrovnik. I finished my work and then I went down to them in Dubrovnik,'' Perestiuk explained to HRT. The right to international temporary protection, by decision of the Croatian Government, can be exercised only by Ukrainian citizens who came to Croatia after the 1st of January, 2022.

Vita, therefore, like approximately 40 other Ukrainians in Croatia, asked to be granted a residence permit for humanitarian reasons. They waited two months for a solution from MUP, biting their nails.

''We didn't know anything, we called them every three days, asked them this and that... That's why we're very happy to have received this status. Now we can go to work, we can live normally,'' said Vita Perestiuk.

''These persons don't enjoy the same rights as Ukrainians who came here fleeing the war enjoy, except the right to residence, of course, and the right to work, they can work, but they don't enjoy, for example, the right to free healthcare, social protection, the right to free housing and the like,'' explained Zarko Katic, state Secretary for Immigration, Citizenship and Administrative Affairs in the Ministry of the Interior.

About 2,700 Ukrainians in Croatia don't have the right to temporary protection, and they are in Croatia mainly for work.

''Each of them will need to regulate their status here either according to the Law on International and Temporary Protection, or according to the Law on Foreigners, either on the basis of work, family reunification, study, or on the basis of residence as a digital nomad,'' explained Katic.

The Croatian Government has firmly stated announces no Ukrainians in Croatia will be forcibly returned to their homeland, even if that means additional changes to the law.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Complicated Formalities Must be Scrapped for Croatian Ukraine Refugee Integration

March the 26th, 2022 - When it comes to the current crisis facing Ukraine following neighbouring Russia's invasion last month, many believe that the complicated processed involving formalities for Croatian Ukraine refugee integration must now be scrapped.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, the unprecedented influx of refugees from Ukraine presents a current very real challenge across the EU and non-EU Europe, as although Ukrainians are interested in getting involved quickly in normal life in their new countries, including gaining legal employment, potential employers offering them jobs has been plagued with complicated red tape. Successful Croatian Ukraine refugee integration relies on the typical draconian processes in this country being cut down significantly.

After the formal application and obtaining an ID card, which gives Ukrainian refugees opportunity to open a Croatian bank account, it is inevitable that they will then need to have the basic documentation for contracting certain jobs, from certificates of competency to diplomas, and this is proving to be a problem. As such, there are already calls for a model to simplify and speed up the inevitable formalities that face displaced Ukrainians here.

People fleeing grenades naturally didn't think to pick up and bring certificates or diplomas or notarised copies to Croatia with them, and on the other hand, for a large number of activities in this country, it is still necessary to go through the nostrification procedure.

These formalities are already a problem for overall Croatian Ukraine refugee integration and especially for jobs that require certificates of secondary education. For example, a large retail chain that wants to hire Ukrainian workers is still pending a decision because the applicant hasn't yet been issued an ID card or an OIB, nor do they have a certificate confirming their completion of secondary education in Ukraine.

Complex cases

Even more complex are the cases for jobs that are in the register of regulated professions, for which it is necessary to obtain certificates from the competent institutions on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications, and there are about 280 professions on that list for Croatia.

These procedures are the most demanding and rigid in the cases of doctors of medicine. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, these processes were complex and time-consuming, under the jurisdiction of various state bodies, and now many would-be employers are hoping that this will be an opportunity for it to improve the system in general.

Anny Brusic, the director of the HUP Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, has stated that employers expect the state to make a decision for Ukrainians to not need certificates for certain occupations. "In this situation, it can be possible to introduce a mentoring system for occupations that require certificates, it can be a good and effective solution," said Brusic.

For weeks, the European Commission (EC) has been asking national bodies to find solutions to determine the equivalence of both European and Ukrainian qualifications frameworks, and is considering new guidelines to facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications acquired in Ukraine. It is also a priority to provide assistance to persons interested in vocational training and retraining, in order to enable those who are interested in overcoming any lack of certain skills as easily and quickly as possible.

EBRD coordination

Here in Croatia, these activities are coordinated by the EBRD and involve representatives of the private sector, NGOs, while public employment services, in this country's case the CES, will play a key role in assisting newcomers from Ukraine in determining their skills, qualifications and connecting them with job possibilities.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ridiculous Croatian Red Tape Still Obstacle to Employment of Foreigners

March the 26th, 2022 - Ridiculous Croatian red tape, for which this country has become infamous, is continuing to be a thorn in the side of would-be employers seeking to hire foreign workers to fill in the gaps in the labour market. With the situation in Ukraine causing many Ukrainians to flock to Croatia, the situation has become even more pressing.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, out of about three and a half million Ukrainians who fled to the EU due to the war in their country, more than 8,600 have arrived in Croatia so far. That number will certainly increase. How long and for what period they'll choose to remain in Croatia is difficult to estimate. So far, about four hundred people have expressed a desire to get a job and settle in Croatia.

"About 40 percent of them have a college or university degree. We'll try to enable the recognition of their diplomas, as well as enable them to learn the Croatian language at the expense of the Croatian Employment Service,'' said Minister Josip Aladrovic after a recent meeting of the Economic and Social Council.

The issuance of temporary residence permits by the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) to Ukrainian citizens should be accelerated, and the CES has already formed mobile teams who, together with social welfare centres, are touring the places Ukrainians fleeing the war in their homeland are coming to.

Among other things, Minister Aladrovic said that about a hundred companies have already expressed their readiness to employ Ukrainian nationals. He doesn't expect disturbances and abuses in the labour market, and there is currently high demand, especially in regard to seasonal work as the summer tourist season approaches.

However, both the Minister and the unions expect greater involvement of the State Inspectorate in the control of possible abuses of labour relations in order to ensure equal rights and obligations as for all others in the labour market.

On behalf of HUP, Ivan Misetic emphasised that there are a significant number of medically educated women and that he hopes that there will not be too much bureaucratisation and Croatian red tape to trip them up on their roads to stable employment.

The issue of administrative procedures in this emergency situation is clearly being emphasised by employers based on their shared experiences, as Croatian red tape, long waits and rudeness from clerks are commonplace when hiring foreign labour from outside the EEA.

"Eight to ten weeks is too long to process applications for work permits, and it isn't uncommon for foreign workers to just go and find work elsewhere during that waiting time," explained Petar Lovric, the owner and director of the Kadus employment agency. When it comes to previous experiences with Ukrainian workers, they are recognised in Croatia as a desirable workforce, he added.

"However, after a solid 2019 in terms of that pool of labour and 2020, which was marked by the global coronavirus pandemic, last year we lost the game with the Poles in connection with the Ukrainian workers," claims Lovric.

Partner agencies from Ukraine cited complicated procedures as one of the main reasons for this “loss of competitiveness” (including, for example, obtaining so-called apostilles by which resident countries confirm the authenticity of the required documentation). In addition, Croatia (primarily the Adriatic) is perceived as expensive to live in given wage levels in some of the most sought-after occupations.

Since the beginning of last year, Croatia has been implementing a new legal framework for the employment of foreigners (non-EEA nationals and British nationals who aren't covered by the Withdrawal Agreement), which was introduced with the aim of facilitating it, as certain activities in recent years have had to rely more heavily on the import of workers from the likes of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, neither of which are EEA countries.

The former annual quota for the employment of foreigners in 2021 has been replaced by a system involving labour market tests, which are ''needs assessments'' with regard to deficit occupations, for which the CES is in charge. For some occupations, you don't need to take a test, but immediately go to the process of issuing a work permit, but for some you still need to.

The number of work permits issued to foreigners last year recorded a double-digit percentage increase (by the end of November, 75 thousand permits or 12 percent more than the year before had been issued) and for the state administration this is a confirmation of the improvement of the system in general. That being said, if you ask Croatian employers and employment agencies, there is still too much administration to deal with and it takes too long to finally get a valid work permit for a foreign employee.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Croatian employers often don't systematically deal with the planning and projection of their needs for workers, including foreign ones. Recruitment and selection processes generally take time, but in recent times this lack of planning can be partly explained by the unpredictability and uncertainties of the business environment.

Lovric said that better managed companies in the tourism sector today are systematically engaged in recruiting and selecting labour, but that most employers in neighbouring Slovenia who are focused on looking for labour and imports still pay insufficient attention to global trends that include less "multifunctional" workers.

He also believes that in a few years, the north of Croatia could face a serious problem of industrial unskilled workers if they don't turn more strongly to attracting ideas such as the construction of workers' settlements. Because of all this, he added, Kadus also plans to offer cooperation to local communities in terms of workforce planning for, for example, the next five to ten years.

For more, check out our business section.

Friday, 25 March 2022

139 Ukrainian Refugee Children Enrolled in Croatian Schools

ZAGREB, 25 March (2022) - So far, 139 Ukrainian refugee children have resumed schooling in Croatia, and of them, 124 are integrated in primary schools and 15 in secondary schools.

In order to facilitate their integration in schools, Ukrainian school-age refugees are provided with additional classes to learn the Croatian language.

Broken down by county, the highest number of Ukrainian refugee children who are already back to school is in Split-Dalmatia where 22 are integrated in primary schools.

There are 15 Ukrainian children in primary schools in the City of Zagreb and Požega-Slavonia County each. Also, 13 Ukrainian kids have resumed schooling in primary schools in both Međimurje and Primorje-Gorski Kotar Counties, and 10 are integrated in primary schools in Lika- Senj County.

In the other counties that have enabled education for primary school students from Ukraine, the numbers are fewer than 10.

When it comes to secondary education, of those 15 children, six are attending school in the City of Zagreb, three in Osijek-Baranja County and two are back to school in Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar Counties each, and Split and Vukovar counties have one secondary-school Ukrainian refugee, according to the data which the Croatian ministry of education gave to Hina.

For more, check out our business section.



Sunday, 20 March 2022

Pogarcic Auto: Rijeka Company Opening Doors to Ukrainian Workers

March the 20th, 2022 - Pogarcic auto, a Rijeka-based car showroom and service centre, is more than ready to take on Ukrainian workers and provide them with a steady and stable income, as well as a permanent job.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Vedran Pogarcic, the owner of Pogarcic auto, says he is more than ready to immediately hire a few professionals needed to work in his centre who were forced into exile by the war troubles in Ukraine.

''Of course, with the help of the competent services that will issue them work permits, I'm willing to offer a good salary for Croatian conditions, as well as permanent employment,'' Vedran assured.

According to Novi list, this is the clear position expressed a few days ago by Vedran Pogarcic after several inquiries for the employment of mechanics with extensive experience in Ukrainian service workshops appeared on social media within groups formed to help refugees fleeing from war torn Ukraine.

With that offer of stability and work, without it really being his primary  intention at all, he kicked off talks on an interesting topic that is being widely discussed, but is still outside the public sphere. Even for lay people, it's clear that without the significant immigration of young families that will bring employment opportunities to Croatia, there will be absolutely no significant demographic recovery. Banally speaking, the Croatian path to total depopulation can be prevented only by mechanical immigration. Pogarcic's offer fits into such thinking, and it's one of those that can be welcome for the country's survival.

“What do we even think we're talking about a lot of the time? We Croats are really two faced. We don't want foreigners, but... there are no locals here either. We went through a very strict procedure to get our service centre up and running, which specialises in maintaining a whole range of car brands, from Ford to Jaguar, and we're a reference point for conducting student internships. You know what we got for that? Next to nothing! The profile of occupations we need enrolls very few students, and if we look at the age structure of Rijeka, less and less are going to be enrolling as time goes on. And yet, there is work to be had, there is certainly work. However, when you honestly expose the current Croatian present and the future in public, you're classed as just being a negative person,'' the owner of Pogarcic auto explained.

With all the regret and deep sadness over the tragedy that recently befell Ukraine at the hands of Russia, it's clear that the permanent settlement of thousands of Ukrainians can be something that will be very welcome for Croatia. These are people with a similar culture and mentality as people in Croatia and they are people who are typically quick to learn the Croatian language.

In addition, tens of thousands of workers are lacking in a whole range of occupations, from highly skilled ones such as those in medicine, all the way to those who are needed to work in tourism, Croatia's most lucrative economic activity. As it usually happens, even the best intentions are criticised by the public, and Vedran Pogarcic also experienced them.

"As soon as I announced that I was offering a job to workers from Ukrbaine, Facebook warriors without an identity came forward and started calling me names. Their thesis is that local people must get a job first. I agree with that, but as hard as it is to have unemployed people in your country, it's even harder and sadder not having people in your country at all. I'm looking in every way to hire local workers, professional people who are needed in this job profile. But they're gone. They been gone for years. There are a lot of jobs to be had and salaries to be earned in my service, but there aren't enough workers to do the job here in Croatia,'' said Pogarcic auto's owner for Novi list.

For more, check out our business section

Saturday, 19 March 2022

Guide for Employers: Ukrainians Looking for Work in Croatia Don't Need Work Permit

March 19, 2022 - The Red Cross says that employers call them to offer jobs for Ukrainians. Maria Meleshko, from the Ukrainian community, warns about possible exploitation and violation of human rights. The Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) gives more details, both for Ukrainian citizens and Croatian employers.

Since the arrival of Ukrainian refugees at the Plitvice Motel in Zagreb, where the reception center is located, many employers from Croatia have called and offered them jobs. At the same time, one of the first questions of Ukrainians after arriving at the reception center was whether there was any work for them. ''There are a lot of young people, people want to get a job'', said Nikolina Gotal, spokeswoman for the city society CK Zagreb to 24sata.

Most of them, she adds, are employers from service industries. 

''A man from Samobor called and asked for a chef and an assistant chef, a lady from Ukraine told us that she already had a job interview in Pula, so we called colleagues from the Red Cross there to find accommodation for her and her family. In the second week after the arrival of the refugees, two employees of the Croatian Employment Service started coming every day for two hours and talked to the Ukrainians and entered them in their records'', said Gotal.

In addition to employers, the reception center was also contacted by numerous owners of private kindergartens, offering children from Ukraine accommodation in their kindergartens. Finally, she told all employers interested in employing Ukrainians to contact the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) and coordinate everything through them.

Vlado Karešin, President of the Ukrainian Community of the Republic of Croatia, said to 24sata that they were looking for a job for a Ukrainian who arrived in Slavonski Brod with four children and is a ceramicist by profession. 

''Here in Slavonski Brod, except for him, there are all mothers with children, one mother said that she would like to start working as soon as possible, so we are looking for a job for her as well'', Karešin said.

Marija Meleško, from the Ukrainian community in Zagreb, said that she still does not know anyone who got a job and states that it was mostly mothers with children who came from Ukraine and they must first take care of them before they get a job.

''Those who do not have any family or friends here, will want to work immediately. Mothers must first place their child in kindergarten or school and then start working. I only hope and believe that Croatian employers will not abuse people who came to seek salvation in Croatia and that there will be no exploitation of people. People come traumatized, disoriented in time and space, and not ready to control everything because they are in such a psychological state. I hope that their human rights will not be violated for human trafficking so that someone picks them up at the border and ends up who knows where. I hope there will be no such cases. Mothers with children are a particularly vulnerable group and are still coming into the unknown. And of course, I absolutely trust the Croatian police. If that happens by chance, I expect an immediate police response, which I believe will do it all. So far, there are no such situations, they are just fears, but we should be careful'', she concluded.

So, what should be considered before looking for a job in Croatia as a Ukrainian citizen, or before offering a job as a Croatian employer to a Ukrainian citizen? The Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), through a Q&A, cleared up the doubts.

How can Croatian employers hire refugees from Ukraine?

All persons under temporary protection must first regulate their stay in Croatia, they must first go to the Ministry of the Interior, obtain an identity card and OIB. They can then be registered in our unemployment register, and we will refer them to the jobs of potential employers in accordance with their knowledge. The HZZ will work intensively to connect people interested in work and employers.

Should Ukrainians have a work permit?

Temporary protection is approved by the Ministry of the Interior for a period of one year, during which time persons under temporary protection can be employed without a residence and work permit, which must be required for third-country nationals. Since only a small number of refugees from Ukraine have achieved this, it is understandable that they are not yet registered in the unemployment register.

Does HZZ help Ukrainians get a job in Croatia?

Employees of the Croatian Employment Service are daily in reception centers and collective accommodation and in individual interviews record the interest and employment opportunities of individuals and provide basic information about employment and employment opportunities and support they can receive from the job search agency.

How is communication with them?

In order to facilitate communication and provide basic information, the HZZ produced a leaflet in the Ukrainian language and the Cyrillic alphabet. The leaflet can contain all the information on registration in the unemployment register as well as the rights that a person exercises after registration.

Do you expect a large number of Ukrainians to be employed in Croatia?

All persons who express an interest in registering with the HZZ with the counselor will determine with which counselor they can and want to work, which languages ​​and other special skills they use, and the counselor will therefore refer them to the jobs of potential employers. We expect that in the future we will work intensively on connecting people interested in work and employers. Once again, we note that persons must regulate their status in the Ministry of the Interior in order to be able to register in the unemployment register and then be employed.

You can find the list and locations of all HZZ regional offices and their branches HERE.


For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Ukrainians in Osijek: "We Will Do Everything We Can to Make them Feel Safe"

March 15, 2022 - Ukrainians in Osijek will feel safe and comfortable in the city thanks to various programs provided to help refugees integrate. 

From the first day of the aggression on Ukraine, the City of Osijek opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees. Osijek was among the first in Croatia to prepare a Reception Center with 100 beds and was recently visited by Minister Davor Božinović. It also joined the new action plan "Slavonian Heart for Families of Ukraine," prepared by Osijek-Baranja County and the Center for Missing and Abused Children, to integrate children and adults coming to eastern Croatia quicker, reports

"In addition to schools and kindergartens, city companies, institutions, associations, and sports clubs participate in the integration of Ukrainian citizens. We will do everything to make them feel safe and comfortable in our city. Our professional services are at their disposal. On this occasion, I would also like to thank my fellow citizens who selflessly help. If anyone can understand the Ukrainian people, it is the inhabitants of Osijek and Osijek-Baranja County," says Osijek Mayor Ivan Radić.

The city's Passenger Transport Company provided free city public transport for refugees and transports refugees from the Croatian border to the reception center or accommodation. Sports facilities offered free use of the pool. In addition, the space for the Children's Corner run by the Center for Missing Children has been renovated in the Osijek Cultural Center.

They also plan to offer children piano and other school activities because many had a music education in Ukraine. In addition, the city company Unikom, which includes the Zoo, will provide free tickets for the zoo. Assistance was also offered to the Kyiv Zoo in an animal shelter.

Free art and educational workshops (Waldingerionice) for children aged 6 to 13 are held in the City Galleries of Osijek every Saturday from 10:30 to 12:30. All Ukrainian children are welcome. The City Galleries of Osijek provide all materials and professional guidance. The Waldinger Gallery is open free to visitors every day from Tuesday to Sunday from 17:00 to 20:00. Depending on the program, there is always an exhibition in the gallery that can be viewed.

The Branko Mihaljević Children's Theater in Osijek joined with complimentary tickets for the non-verbal performances "Wild Horse" and "Duck Swims Across the Drava." In addition, the theater has equipment for the needs of blind and partially sighted children that can be used for simultaneous translation so that plays in Croatian could be watched in Ukrainian with the help of a translator or narrator.

Last Friday and Saturday, the Croatian National Theater organized a humanitarian classical music concert for peace in Ukraine. Part of the funds will be transferred to an account opened to help refugees. In addition, Ukrainians in exile will be offered free tickets to the Croatian National Theater.

An invitation was sent to all sports clubs and members of Osijek Sports Associations to include refugee children and youth in training and other club activities as part of regular planning and program activities. The Center for Technical Culture Osijek is also ready to include several children in workshops on model making, aircraft modeling, assembling Lego models, photography, and construction. If necessary, additional workshops can be provided.

The city of Osijek is a member of the association Croatia Helps, and it has offered a holiday in Novi Vinodolski from June 20 to 27 for 40 Ukrainian children who will be accommodated in Osijek. The city has also made available business space in Pothodnik, which will house the Refugee Info Center. Its opening was announced in the coming days. They are also planning a program for entrepreneurs, given that they have already received inquiries from several Ukrainian companies that would move to Osijek, and a model is being sought to co-finance their business.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.