TREND: Employing foreigners is easier, but especially for the selected companies
31. May 2018
The government cautiously opens the door to foreigners. Changes in immigration policy are being driven by businesses that cannot find enough employees on the domestic market.
Last year and in May of this year, new and easier rules for the employment of so-called third-country nationals, i.e. the citizens of non-EU countries came into force. However, they have helped so far only the „chosen“ companies, and they are also calling for the rules to be extended to all businesses. The number of foreigners legally working in Slovakia meanwhile exceeded 50-thousand and grew by about a thousand foreigners a month.
Faster retrieval of foreigners in other districts is expected to bring shorter time for labour offices to look for job vacancies for unemployed citizens of the Slovak Republic – from 30 days to 20 days. Even this change is effective as of May this year. „Such legislative changes to address the temporary shortage of skilled labour force through third-country nationals are considered to be sufficient,“ concludes Veronika Husárová from the press department of the Ministry of Labour.
It is not enough for businesses
But the employers have a different opinion. Especially those ones who are not „chosen“. The entrepreneur Oto Šátek has a job application submitted at the Labour Office for a job position of a Project Designer for almost six years. Since April, he has been trying to employ a Ukrainian student who showed an interest in working in this job position. Maxim graduated in technology at the University in Prešov, but he graduated in technology at the university in his hometown – Sevastopol. „Just calling to the relevant department of the Ministry of Interior took us one week and the information we were given was still useless, “ says O. Šátek, the leader of hi-tech company Elt-servis. Although Maxim as a foreigner has already been verified by the police when applying for study visas, the administrative process had to be resumed. Together with the company, they gradually submitted a job promise, a wage certificate, a confirmation of accommodation, and officially translated evidence of education, and an extract from the criminal record. They are waiting for the second month to issue the permit, and if the foreign police do not complete it by the end of August, Maxim’s student visas expire and he will have to return home and undergo the whole procedure again, but this time through the Slovak Embassy in Ukraine. „I would also employ another ten technically educated Ukrainians, but if I had to deal with this regularly, I would have to hire three more people in the administration department“ O. Šátek points out. Similar situations in the past led to the fact that talented foreigners rather went to work in Poland or the Czech Republic, which are more open to foreigners. „The legislative changes are inadequate; we still lag behind our neighbouring countries such as Poland or Hungary, where it is possible to legalize a work stay in two weeks. In Slovakia, it takes two months,“ says the General Manager of SPC International in Piešťany, Martin Mydlík. A company that specializes in the repair of electronic devices in IT or banking did not accept job seekers from Serbia last year, because that would mean a large loss of time.
The large players also deny the discrimination. „When approving the long-term employment with the Foreigners Police Section, it would help us to shorten the 90-day period to 30 days for all companies in the region with low-employment, not only for selected companies,“ says Ľubomír Sommer from the leadership of the second largest electrical plant in Slovakia, Foxconn Slovakia in Nitra. Despite a turnover of billions of Euros and the employment of thousands of people, the company did not receive a major investor status from the government. Furthermore Ľ. Sommer proposes to move part of the agenda to less-favoured Foreigners Police Departments, or to personally empower busy districts so that the shortened period works in real life. „In the area of seasonal employment, the significant simplification and acceleration shall be applied for the regions with low-employment as it is still burdened by demanding administration and approval,“ he added.
In Henkel Slovakia, they would welcome the amendment of the list of necessary documents to be submitted by the foreigner to the Foreigners Police when applying for a residence permit. „All documents must be translated into the Slovak language and apostilled, which significantly prolongs the total time of permitting and it affects the applicant financially,“ says M. Tomášková from the centre of shared services of this company. The possibility of changing the employer without any other necessary administrative tasks such as reporting a job at the Labour Office to a prospective employer or requesting a change of employer to the Foreigner Police after granting of the residence permit would have helped to work mobility according to her. „We believe that the effort to further optimize the process will continue,“ says the spokesman of Slovnaft, Anton Molnár.
Numbers do not lie
Numbers give credence to the companies. The unemployment in Slovakia is continuously declining since the summer of 2016, reaching a new low of 6,65 percent in April. Labour Offices recorded a month-on-month decline in the number of people without work in all age groups and regions. „The number of available jobseekers fell to 150,000, which is the least in the history of the Slovak Republic,“ said the Minister of Labour Ján Richter. The record low was also due to the number of long-term unemployed – 78,000 or long-term unemployed over four years, which is already less than 40,000. On the contrary, the number of vacancies rises, month-on-month by more than thirty thousand jobs for 80,581 vacancies, which the offices recorded in Slovakia at the end of April.
However, ordinary companies wishing to hire a foreigner must still wait thirty days for the Labour Offices to fill their reported vacancy with unemployed citizens of the Slovak Republic. Since the beginning of this year, the authorities have attempted to occupy nearly 30,000 vacancies. They invited 20,000 of unemployed people from the record to the tender, 13,000 people came and 878 people finally got the jobs. The statistics do not follow how long they retained their jobs.