The purpose of this chapter is to briefly introduce some key documents that have significant impact on further development of concept of age management in the Slovak Republic. We concentrate on those documents and their parts that demonstrate the real needs of the acceleration of the process of working with older workers in terms of support and maintenance of their good working ability and condition.
Strategic documents concerning current job market situation
National Programme for Active Ageing for the years 2014 – 2020
National Programme for Active Ageing for the years 2014 – 2020 was developed in cooperation with all relevant subjects, i.e. all the relevant ministries within the factual scope, the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic, regional authorities, the Association of Towns and Municipalities, the Union of Pensioners of the Slovak Republic, the Association of Christian Senior Citizens, the Forum for Help the Aged, the Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic, the Association of providers of social services in the Slovak Republic, the Republic Union of Employers and the Association of employers´ Associations of the Slovak Republic.
The Programme responds to the fact of population ageing, which is the result of current demographic trends across almost all EU countries. It is the first national document that admits that to support active ageing is one of the most important political priorities and matter of public interest which offers a chance for a better and sustainable development for all as a basic vision of Slovak society. It also captures a broad period of human life and thus the diversity of positions and relationships in which people aged 50 and plus actively function (NP, 2014).
In the chapter No. 6 of this Programme that deals with Employment and employability of older people, there is a brief subchapter incorporated which deals with age management (equivalent to age management concept used in this analysis). It warns employers that even now it is absolute necessity to think about the consequences of population ageing and they should pay more attention to the analysis of the age structure of their employees. The subchapter No. 4 covers four specific objectives with particular measures and deadlines for their fulfilment, for example:
The objective No. 1: to transform the Committee for seniors into advisory body to the Slovak Government dealing with adjustments of public policy with regards to the population ageing.
The Objective No. 2: to define and develop age management and create principles of age management for employers (in the private as well as public sector).
The Objective No. 3: to motivate employers (private as well as in public sector) to apply age management in their business, to encourage the employment of older workers and motivate employees to remain in the labour market.
Objective No. 4: to establish the minimum extent of essential principles of age management, including audit system of their application.
However, in the first half of the year of 2016, we have to say with regret that we see a certain stagnation in fulfilling the above mentioned objectives and timelines. Only objective No. 1 can be considered fulfilled – the Government Resolution No. 17/2014 date January 8th 2014 allowed transformation of the Committee for seniors into the Council of the Government of the rights of seniors and further adaptation of public policies of the ageing population. The document is available here: http://www.aptet.sk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/npas-2014-2020.pdf
The Strategy for Active Ageing
This document was created in 2013 within the implementation of the National Programme for Active Ageing in the Learning Centre of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic. The authors focused on the impacts of the intensive population ageing in relation to the labour market and the pension system.
It draws attention to the fact that the state does not have effective tools to slow the ageing of Slovakia. It deals primarily with the position and of the older people in the labour market within the concept of active ageing. Legal strategies for the utilization of the older workforce will be crucial for the Slovak economy after the year of 2020, also in the context of fulfilling of the objectives of the European Employment Strategy.
In terms of age management, the reference to the importance of the individual work ability measurements as an effective tool with a significant contributions to the economic and social development, as well as a powerful tool to mitigate the negative effect of ageing process, is more than accurate here.
One of herein defined strategic objective for the pension system section is to create a system for assessing the objectified working capacity (ability) of older workers. As an example of good practice it currently provides the method of Work Ability Index® made by Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH). The authors emphasize the need for a separate project within the Programme period 2014 – 2020 with the aim to develop deeper this issue, not only in theory but also as a practical application. The document is available here: http://www.aptet.sk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Strategia_aktivneho_starnutia.pdf.
Action plan for implementation of the Strategy for Active Ageing
This Action plan builds on and is an integral part of an Active Ageing Strategy (see above in 3.2). The method of fulfilling the strategic objective “to create a system for objectified assessment of working capacity of older workers” was to provide material and technical conditions for the establishment of a specialized scientific research team for the review of international experience with the objectification of comprehensive measurements of working capacity and for the development of a similar system of an objective measurement of work capacity for the various needs of job market and particularly for the needs of the pension system.
The deadline for the establishment of the working group was June 30th 2014. However, it was not possible to get relevant information about the establishment and future work if this working group because the project implementer of the National Education Centre of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic ceased to exists during the year of 2014. The document is available here: http://www.nocka.sk/uploads/dd/de/ddde1f2d5bd8b112c9821c5e6c7802c4/akcny-plan-naplnania-strategie-aktivneho-starnutia.pdf
National Reform Programme of the Slovak Republic in 2015
The document describes the structural measures, which the Slovak Governments intends to take over the period of 2015 – 2017. It is based on a new complex approach, which, in addition to GDP, takes into account also other aspects of quality of life. It also identifies the main challenges of the Slovak economy: the labour market, health care and primary (basic) education system.
However, this document refers only marginally to the situation of people older than 50 years in labour market in terms of noting the high rate of unemployment amongst the elderly. One of the national objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy is achieving the employment rate in Slovakia in 2020 at 72 % (EU/2020/75%) while the employment rate is made up of the share of the employed population age 20-64 years old in the total population of the same age group. It means that if the Slovak Republic intends to achieve this objective, the primary attention must be paid to the employment rate of graduates as well as people over the year of 50. The state declares its interest in the preparation of project for the employment of older unemployed job seekers (aged over 50) in the chapter called Employment, section long-term unemployment. This document is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/csr2015/nrp2015_slovakia_sk.pdf
The National Employment Strategy
A study of a comprehensive programme for employment, common strategic objectives for employment and long-term intentions for their achievement
This document points out the fact that in the context of the employment strategy in the Slovak Republic, it is necessary to address the issue of employment of older people. It is based on the reality that population ageing is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century for Slovakia which hits irreversibly all spheres of the society.
The shift of numerous generations of men and women to the age cohort of 50+ contributes significantly to the increase of the number of older people in the labour market. One of the basic principles of public policies for active ageing is the principle of employment which is based on the rights of older people and seniors to work and have and earn income from employment or self-employment even after reaching the retirement age. The employment in older age allows to assess work experience and capital of older people, to enhance their economic sovereignty and to maintain, respectively to create new work and social contacts. An essential part of the application of this principle is the creation of flexible and “age-friendly” working conditions (Chapter 2.3, section Questions on employment of older people).
This document also in its section called Silver economy in the context of population potential for the labour market correctly notes that in the first place there are analysis of the negative impact of ageing population on public finances and only little attention is paid to the impact of ageing population on economy in view of changes in the volume and structure of supply and demand for products, services, labour force of capital.
In chapter No. 4.7 Support for the supply side of the labour market through qualifications for better jobs, the meaning of lifelong learning of employees and job seekers and it is development is emphasised. In a separate section, the work with job seekers over 50 years old is accurately characterized as follows: “it is the group that needs to be paid proper attention to, even more in the times of the announced mass layoffs by employers. In this group, there is a high rate in the outplacement process in the period of mass layoffs and in the first months of registrations in job offices. It is a highly motivated group with wide variety of life experience and skills. Career guidance of this group of job seekers should be implemented within first 6 months of registration at the job office as a preventive step against possible apathy, loss of interest and identification with their current unfavourable life situation. It is also appropriate to implement a targeted educational process aiming at prospective employment, respectively towards the self-employment. This group is a huge source of tacit knowledge, i.e. knowledge obtained on the basis of practical life experience”. This document is available here: https://www.employment.gov.sk/files/nsz_vedecka_studia_final.pdf.
Research and innovation strategy for a smart specialization of the Slovak Republic – SK RIS3
Slovakia is amongst the fastest growing economies of the European Union. Currently, it still benefits primarily from a low tax burden and low cost of labour. A long term problem of the state is low investments in research, not only in comparison with the EU average figures, but also compared with the other V4 countries.
In this respect, the RIS3 Programme, aimed at a smart specialization of each country defined for the years of 2014 till 2020, regard as a key initiative. The document defines “areas of specialization anchored departing from the traditional economic sectors and prospective areas of specialization of the rapidly growing industries in the Slovak Republic, which show high potential for the development of the Slovak Economy” (RIS3 SK, 2013).
And what is the relationship of age management and RIS3 SK document? It is assumed that by the support of the priority areas of RIS3 SK we can obtain positive effect in resolving multiple societal topics, one of which is ageing population and quality of life. Moreover, the development trend in prospective areas of specialization has already been identified – it is technology and services for the active life and ageing. Although, in the section of human resources development, the document primarily focuses on training and development of pupils´ competences and skills and lifelong enhancing and updating professional skills and knowledge of employees, it is necessary to consider also the impacts of conceptual solutions of the demographic prognoses on the economy of Slovakia.
Although the document does not address the possibility of measurement of working ability of employees, e.g. in automotive industry, we need to consider the possibility and suitability to prepare and implement a project aiming at the above mentioned possibility by means of participation of various foreign partners within the 2014 – 2020 programme period. We believe that from the strategic point of view of sustainability, e.g. in automotive industry, such specific project outputs would have significant value. This document is available here: http://www.mhsr.sk/ext_dok-sk_ris3/142230c?ext=orig.
Key Acts and Laws of the Slovak Republic
Act No. 353/2015 Coll. amending and supplementing Law No. 5/2004 Coll., on employment services and on amending and supplementing certain acts as amended, and amending some laws.
Key Act which defines the basic concepts such as employee, employer, job seeker etc. Within the employment services it further defines the tools and support of participants in the labour market in search of a job change, the clearing of vacancies and implementation of active labour market measures with particular focus on employment of disadvantaged job seekers (this category also includes people older than 50+). Specifically the Section No. 4 of this law is aimed at medical expert opinions, the assessment of medical fitness for the job seekers etc. As a part of the active labour market measures, a specific framework for professional services, education and training for the labour market, job seekers and employees has been created (including the definition of eligible cost for education and training for the labour market and other allowances). This Law is available here: https://www.slov-lex.sk/pravne-predpisy/SK/ZZ/2004/5/.
Act No. 568/2009 Coll., on lifelong learning and on amendments to certain laws.
From the perspective of an informed development of the concept of age management in Slovakia, we advocate adherence to its content and formal compliance. We are convinced that the accreditation of training activities will not only help in increasing the rating of these educational activities, but also guarantees its monitorable quality.
This Law on lifelong learning deals with:
- lifelong learning which builds on the training level of educational attainment in school education
- accreditation of educational programs of continuing education
- rules and procedures for the verification and recognition of further education outcomes aimed at acquisition of partial or full qualification
- national system of qualifications
- information system of further education
- monitoring and forecasting system of education needs of further education and training
- system for monitoring and control system of fulfilling of accreditation and compliance to the conditions for granting authorization to carry out tests and exams to verify professional qualification etc.
According to § 4, Section 1, types, forms and scope of continuing education are:
further training and education in an accredited training programme that leads to the enhancement, renewal, extension or deepening of qualifications for the performance of professional activities
retraining education in an accredited training programme that leads to obtaining of a partial or full qualification or professional competence for one or more professional activities in another profession other than that for which the individual acquired skills through school (i.e. formal) education
continuing education in educational programmes by means of adult learners complement, deepen or update their skills which is a prerequisite for pursuing professional activities in accordance with special regulations
leisure time or interest education, civic education, education of seniors and other training by means of adult learners meet their own interests, involve in the life of civil society in general and develop their personality (Act No. 568/2009 Coll., available here: https://www.minedu.sk/data/files/2617_2009_568.pdf
Act No. 311/2001 Coll., Labour Code
This law defines the fundamental rights and freedoms which are “guaranteed in the Slovak Republic to everyone regardless of sex, race, colour, language, belief and religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, nationality or ethnic group, property, birth or other status. No one shall be on the following grounds harmed, preferred or discriminated against.” (Act No. 311/2001 Coll.). And further “it is impossible not to notice the fact that age as a reason is not specifically mentioned, but age in this context can be understood as other status” (Mrúzová, 2014). These basic principles are applied throughout the whole cycle of the professional relationship between employer and employee – since the job interview or tender through the establishment of employment till its termination. “An employer may not restrict the job tender to the particular age group. Even during the job interview, questions of the age of the job seeker are strictly inappropriate” (Barancová, 2013).
In case of older employees, the most common ways of termination of employment relationship are as follows:
agreement on termination of the employment relationship pursuant to § 60 of the Labour Code
notice to an employee according to § 61 of the Labour Code
notice to an employee according to § 63 of the Labour Code – termination of the employment relationships of the eldest member of staff due to redundancy or medical disability
According to § 63, point b) of the Labour Code, the employee becomes redundant with respect to the written decision of the employer or the appropriate authority to change his or her tasks and technical equipment or a reduction in staff to ensure work efficiency or other organizational changes (Kordošová, Novotný, 2013).
The Labour Code is available in Slovak language at: https://www.slov-lex.sk/pravne-predpisy/SK/ZZ/2001/311/ and in English version at https://www.employment.gov.sk/files/slovensky/uvod/legislativa/pracovna-legislativa/zakonnik-prace-anglicka-verzia-labour-code-full-wording-2013.pdf
Law No. 365/2004 Coll., on Equal Treatment in Certain Areas and Protection against Discrimination, and on amending and supplementing certain other laws – Antidiscrimination Act
This Law “contains the principle of equal treatment which is defined in § 2, section 1 of this document” (Mrúzová, 2014). And further, “respect for the principle of equal treatment consists of prohibition of discrimination based on sex, religion or belief, race, nationality or ethnic origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, family origin, colour, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (Act No. 365/2006 Coll.). This Act is available here: http://www.zakonypreludi.sk/zz/2004-365.
Possibilities and options for grant support from international funds
EU Operational Programmes
In the programming period 2014 – 2020, we see the greatest potential for utilization of grants to help with the further development of age management in Slovakia through the EU Operational Programme Human Resources, namely through Priority Axis 3, Employment with the following specific objectives:
3.1.1 Increase employment, employability, and reduce unemployment with special emphasis on the long- term unemployed, low- qualified, elderly and disabled persons
supporting programmes that are targeted at improving the access of jobseekers to the labour market
supporting innovative solutions, pilot projects to try out new active and preventive measures in the labour market
pilot programmes and projects to support the development of regional or local employment
3.1.2 Improving the access to the labour market using efficient tools to support employment, including supporting mobility for finding a job, self-employment, and activities in rural areas
activities aimed at anticipating changes, adaptability to changed conditions, the adaptation of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs to these changes
verification of new measures on the labour market in the form of pilot projects etc.
In both above mentioned examples we have focused on targeted groups of employees, employers, self-employed persons, jobseekers and disadvantaged jobseekers, providers of employment services and selected types of beneficiaries such as non-governmental non-profit organizations, civic associations, labour and social affairs and family offices as well as employers – business subjects.
The first concrete challenges in terms of published indicative timetable are scheduled for September 2016 (for example specific objective 3.1.1 with allocation of 30 mil. EUR) and October 2016 (for example specific objective 3.1.2 with allocation of 15 mil. EUR). More information about the OP Human Resources can be found at https://www.employment.gov.sk/sk/esf/programove-obdobie-2014-2020/operacny-program-ludske-zdroje/
Cross-border co-operational programmes
INTERREG V-A SLOVAK REPUBLIC – CZECH REPUBLIC
(Priority Axis 1 – The utilization of innovation potential)
This programme is one of the operational programmes created under European Structural and Investment Funds. The most relevant specific objective to apply the principles of age management is the objective 1.1: Increasing the relevance of the curriculum to the needs of the labour market in order to improve the applicability of the labour market within the investment priority No. 1, Investments in education, training and vocational training , as well as skills and lifelong learning through the development and implementation of joint education, vocational education and training programmes which is implemented into the following activities:
systematic cooperation between educational institutions, employers and employment services in order to increase the relevance of education to the needs of employers in the cross-border regions
supporting the development of strategies and regional partnerships – “pacts” for the development of human resources
joint strategies and lifelong learning programmes for adults
establishing of partnerships and networks to support the development of lifelong learning
new approaches to increasing the attractiveness and efficiency of lifelong learning for companies and individuals
More information about this project can be found at: http://www.sk-cz.eu/sk/uvodna-stranka/2014_2020/ in Slovak and Czech languages and at: http://www.strukturalni-fondy.cz/en/Fondy-EU/2014-2020/Operacni-programy/OP-Slovensko-%E2%80%93-CR in English.
INTERREG V-A POLAND – SLOVAKIA
(Priority Axis 3 – Development of cross-border areas and lifelong learning)
Relevant is particularly Specific objective No. 4 – Improving the quality of cross-border professional and vocational education, Investment Priority 4 – Investing in education, training and vocational training, as well as skills and lifelong learning through the development and implementation of joint education, vocational education and training programmes.
Among supported activities are activities focused on identifying the needs of professional and vocational education (e.g. mapping of current problems and deficiencies in supply of education and providing joint educational processes, activities in the field of career guidance on cross-border labour market, timing and adaptation of training programs to current labour market, timing and adaptation of training programmes to current labour market requirements, including cooperation between institutions in the context of internships and vocational training).
Eligible applicants are:
the state and its branches
local authorities and their branches
organizations founded by the state, county, municipality, city districts and by the association of municipalities
professional educational institutions, scientific and research organizations, NGOs (non-governmental, non-profit organizations), universities, the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation etc.
More information about this programme is available here:
INTERREG V-A SLOVAKIA-AUSTRIA
(Priority Axis 3 – Strengthening smart and inclusive cross-border region by means of development of innovative system, investments into human resources and improving the capacity of institutions and mutual cooperation).
The most relevant project activities are:
enhancing cooperation between key players in the regional innovation system in order to enhance knowledge transfer, building capacity and common frameworks, common research and innovation activities and joint research facilities
improving the education, training and lifelong learning at all levels (from pre-school education to universities and colleges) by means of high-quality programmes to be jointly drawn up and implemented and which would lead to a new approach based on common standards
increasing cooperation between institutions in the cross-border region by mobilizing stakeholders and capacity building for planning and activities in the multi-level self-government.
More information on the programme is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/programmes/2014-2020/slovakia/2014tc16rfcb003.
INTERREG V-A SLOVAKIA – HUNGARY
(Priority Axis 3 – Promotion of sustainable, and quality employment and labour mobility)
The most relevant is Specific Objective 3.1 – Reducing disparities between regions in employment in order to improve the level of employment in the program area
Under this specific objective, the most relevant activities are joint education and training programmes aimed at:
survey and research of educational needs in order to set the direction for the fulfilling the training needs of the labour market (with a focus on lifelong learning)
raise awareness among employers (business associations, companies, specially SMEs) in preventing and combating discrimination
This cross-border projects enable to engage quite a wide range of partners, such as:
chambers and interest association of legal entities
NGOs (non-governmental non-profit organizations)
The state and its branches
Local authorities and their branches
organizations founded by the state, county, municipality, city districts and by the association of municipalities
European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC)
Business entities (employers) etc.
More information on this programme can be found here:
EEA and Norway Grants/Funds
EEA and Norway Grants for the programming period 2014 – 2021 are only at the preliminary preparatory stage, but since May 3rd, 2016 a new agreement (a Memorandum of Understanding) has been signed under which the beneficiary countries, i.e. Slovakia, can begin the process of international agreements.
This programme aims at project that cannot be supported by the EU Structural Funds and which are strategically focused on security, stability and support for reforms, environment and infrastructure as well as human and social development. It is funded by the Swiss Confederation and the state budget (i.e. Slovak state budget). Its aim is to contribute to reducing economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union as well as in Slovakia. Currently the new agreement does not yet exist and therefore the National focal point does not plan to announce any new call for application for support.