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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Luka Mesec would go all out with repression on employers

By Andrej Žitnik (Nova24tv.si)

Robert Golob’s government is preparing changes to the labour legislation, which will make it mandatory to record working hours upon arrival at work. Mandatory “stamping” has stirred up the public even before the bill reached the government, as many are convinced that it is returning us to the days of the late Yugoslavia, in which time spent at work was more important than productivity. With such legislative proposals, the question is quite rightly asked whether it would not make more sense to introduce some kind of testing of politicians for prohibited substances. In the case of the Ministry of Labour, headed by Luka Mesec, such a question is particularly appropriate.

After abolishing the Bureau of Demography, the Ministry of Labour tackled labour law legislation. With the amendments to the Act on records in the field of labour and social security, they intend to expand the concept of worker. From now on, an employee would be anyone who has an employment contract with the employer, as well as everyone else who cooperates with the company in some other way, if they do the work themselves and are involved in the employer’s work process, such as students, reported Finance newspaper. The legal proposal will also deal with keeping records of working hours. Until now, employers kept records by simply ticking off eight hours of work. Under the legislative proposal, such recording would be much more rigorous.

Beware, inspection is coming!

The new legislation also envisages stricter inspections and draconian punishments against anyone who dares to violate Mesec’s Yugoslav idea. In order for the work of the inspection to be as efficient as possible, the law proposes that from now on, the time of arrival and departure of the worker from work, the extent of breaks and breaks during working hours, the hours worked during night work, on Sundays, during holidays, in shifts or split working time, hours worked in unevenly distributed working time, or temporarily redistributed working time, including the running total of hours worked in a week, month and year should be recorded electronically. The electronic system should also record any tampering with the records, reported Domovina.

Employers who violate the law could be fined from 1,500 to 20,000 euros if they do not track, keep, or update records. Smaller employers would be fined between 300 and 8,000 euros, and individual employers between 150 and 1,200 euros.

Forward to the past

At a time when developed economies are experiencing fundamental changes in how work is done, the legislative proposal in question is a big step into the past and a clear demonstration of the repressive mentality that is hidden behind the populism of the Levica party. The global epidemic of covid-19 has caused that many jobs that used to be done in company offices are now being done from home. When the epidemic situation eased, some workers returned to their jobs, and many continue to work from home. This has many advantages, including lower office costs for companies, better use of employees’ free time, and all this with the same, perhaps even higher, quality of work performed. The legislative proposal is also a major shift from a meritocratic conception of work, in which creativity and quality of work count, to a public sector regulation, where working hours are considered to be the same.

This is, of course, absurd, which is also pointed out by entrepreneurs who allow their employees flexible working hours. One such person is, for example, Jure Knez, the founder of the company Dewesoft, who commented in the media that today time an employee spends at the workplace is no longer important, but rather productivity, innovation and added value. In his opinion, it is a big step back in the development of the entrepreneurial mindset, which will burden companies and limit the freedom of employees to create. The director of the Bia Separations company, Dr Aleš Štrancar, also said: “There is freedom now, and in the name of freedom we will soon have to keep records of how many times we go to the toilet, how long we spend on the toilet, and how much water we use to wash our hands after number two, and after number one.”

What do the unions think about this?

Since it is an important issue that fundamentally changes how the most productive companies in Slovenia operate, we sent questions to the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia and the Confederation of Slovenian Public Sector Trade Unions. We will publish their responses when we receive them.

To whom it way concern,

Amendments to the Act on records in the field of labour and social security are being prepared at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. A change in the definition of a worker is planned, and the business public was particularly upset by the proposal to tighten the recording of working hours, which is contrary to the global trends of the most developed economies. This is why we are interested in:

  1. Do you support a proposal in the union that would reduce the flexibility of work performance?
  2. Do you think that mandatory electronic recording of working hours is a step towards increasing the creativity of the Slovenian economy?
  3. What changes would be necessary to increase the creativity and added value of the Slovenian economy?
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