Precarious employment is a worrying problem because it creates large inequalities among employees.  As I already mentioned, precarious employed workers have a significantly lower scope of labor and social protection than standard employees with a full-time and permanent contract (although the deterioration of working conditions in standard employment relationships is also very problematic). According to SURS, among all employees in 2019, approximately 9.5% or almost 90 thousand workers in Slovenia were precariously employed. Most of them, 30,4% were involved in student work, 29,5% were forced to work based on temporary contracts, 14,1% were employed through agency contracts, 13,8% were self-employed and 12,1% were forced to work part-time. [1]

In Slovenia, precarious employment is mostly treated as gender neutral – as if women and men are equally exposed to the traps of precarious work. However, official statistics on precarious employment for 2019, if disaggregated by gender, show significant differences between women and men. 46% of people involved in precarious forms of work are men and even 54% women, which clearly show the position of women in Slovenia.

Chart 1: Precarious work and gender, Slovenia, 2019

Except in the group of self-employment who do not employ others and work predominantly for one client, in all other groups precariously employed women are in the majority. Part-time and fixed-term work slowly become feminized. The number of women involved in such forms of work constantly exceeds the number of men.

Chart 2: Involvement of men and women in full-time and part-time work activities, Slovenia, 2017-2020

If we look at the chart 2 we will see that from 2017 until the end of 2020, women were significantly less involved in full-time work activities, and more involved in less-than-full-time work activities, ie in part time. It is important to mention that in Slovenia working part-time is not a desirable way of working because it does not guarantee full labor rights. This means that women are put in more vulnerable and economically dependable position. Working rights and obligation in Slovenia are specified in the proportion with the working hours. Main difference between part-time and full-time contracts is in the extant of social rights, which means that when working part-time the insurance depends on the working hours. This is especially important in case of losing the employment. If you lose a part-time job the unemployment benefits, which you will receive will be lower than those working full-time, i.e. they will be calculated based on the salary and working hours. This also applies to paid sick leave, pension and disability insurance.

In addition to part-time work, the number of fixed-term employment is also growing. A fixed-term contract by definition is a contract concluded for a specific period of time. Unlike part-time contracts, there must be a specific reason for signing a fixed-term contract and it can last maximum two years, regardless if employee signed one contract for a period of two years, or more contracts for a shorter period. While in theory this legislations protect workers, in practice this kind of contracts are widly exploited. In Slovenia 15.2% of women, and 14.4% men included in precarious work, work involuntarily on the basis of this type of contract.[2] An increasing number of employers are opting for this type of contract due to greater flexibility and smaller obligations to employees. Although the employee is legally entitled to severance pay upon termination of a contract, there are a number of exceptions that are often exploited.

Student work is another example of precarious work. When working as a student, there is no employment contract at all. The basic characteristic of student work is temporaryness and occasionality, as well as that it should be adjusted to the needs of staff / students. But in practice, working hours, wages and working conditions are determined by the employer. Students often work full time, but are not entitled to the resulting work rights. Also, very often employers report and pay them minimum hours through student service and give the rest on hand, thus not paying students health and pension insurance. The difference between men and women involved in student work is greatest. 11.8% of men and even 18.7% of women are involved in student work. According to “Movement for decent work and welfare society” 50% of those who work through a student referral work to pay for basic living expenses; 36% would not be able to study without student work; 8% support a loved one (child, parents, partner). This means that many male and female students are mostly forced into this cheap and most flexible form of work.

Since student work is the most common precarious employment, and the share of women in it is much higher than those of men (to which must be added the higher share of women in fixed-term employment), we can say that Slovenian labor market considers women the cheapest and most flexible workforce.

The only form of precarious work prvailed by men in Slovenia is self-employment. Self-employee operate independently in the labor market and provide services in his own name and on his own behalf. In self-employment, the individual pays all the taxes himself. In order to reduce costs, companies often cooperate with the self-employed, where they avoid paying taxes, which are inevitable under the employment contract. Self-employment is considered as a part of the precariat because self-employees often work overtime without being paid for it, and are in constant search for new projects. They don’t have paid travel expenses, snacks, medical insurance, paid sick-leave leave or vacation. Often happens that self-employed are economically dependent on one company (working only for that company for a long period), in which they still do not want to hire them full time. In Slovenia, in 2019, 9,9% of men and 3,9% of women are economically depended self-employees.

Author:

Sara Velkoska