Business News

Govt Decides to Keep Paid Lunch Break and Years of Service

Ljubljana, 06 September (STA) - Labour, Family and Social Affairs Minister Andrej Vizjak announced Thursday that the government was giving up on the idea of abolishing a paid lunch break and the bonus for years of service as part of labour reform.

The decision comes after an uproar from trade unions, in particular with regard to plans to enable employers to leave the 30-minute break unpaid.

The move was criticised today by head of the Association of Employers in Trade Crafts and Small Businesses Igor Antauer, who argued Slovenia was the only country in Europe with a legally enforced paid lunch break.

"Everyone around us in fact works 40 hours and has a 30-minute or one-hour break," he added, announcing employers would not back the reform if it introduces but cosmetic changes.

Vizjak repeated today that the main goal of the labour reform was to reduce the segmentation of the labour market and introduce a standard open-ended employment contract to enable young workers to get secure jobs that enable them to plan their future.

However, one objective is also to motivate those who are unemployed to become more active, which is why the reform is introducing temporary and occasional forms work as well.

These are not reviving the idea of mini jobs that was rejected in a referendum, he insisted, rejecting criticism voiced by unions and the opposition in recent days.

Antauer said earlier today that he expected the debate on standard open-ended contracts to "become extremely complicated, since unions will demand even greater guarantees".

Arguing that employers today were in a very difficult position and would not employ at all if contracts are too rigid, he welcomed temporary forms of employment as a chance for workers to get to know employers in the first place and pave the way for permanent employment later.

Vizjak also presented to the press the draft of the pension reform, whose content became public in recent days, saying it was "a compromise between a new direction and what was rejected in last year's referendum".

He added the reform was needed because the ratio between people working and pensioners had deteriorated significantly since 2005.

"Thus the pension purse is becoming unsustainable and if this happens, it will only be a question of time when the paying out of pensions within a legal framework will no longer be possible," the minister said.

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