“The employers do not want to lose people who have loads of work experience, which is especially common among older employees. However, in cases where new energy and mastery of new technology is needed for a certain job, the employer should definitely have the opportunity and the right to offer such positions to the generation of young people, who are waiting to get their first offer,” the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia responded to the Constitutional Court’s decision to temporarily suspend the statutory provisions on the retirement of older workers who meet the conditions for old-age retirement. The president of the Chamber of Craft and Small Businesses of Slovenia, Branko Meh, also does not understand why the Constitutional Court withheld the implementation of the measure until a substantive decision will be made.
The Ministry of Labour, which pointed out that the Constitutional Court has not yet ruled on the conformity of the provisions with the Constitution, but only on the temporary suspension of the implementation of these provisions, explained that by introducing the measures included in the seventh Anti-Corona Legislative Package (“sedmi protikorona paket” – referred to as PKP7), the country is responding to the deteriorating situation in the labour market. At the same time, the Ministry once again pointed out that the measure will not trigger forced retirements. All of the employees who meet the conditions for old-age retirement, but whose employer will agree to keep them employed, will remain employed, the Ministry assured, and pointed out the positive effects that the new regime will have on the employment of young people and employability of the elderly. The adopted measure is primarily aimed at resolving the employment crisis among young people who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. According to the Ministry, the measure will open new employment opportunities for young people in Slovenia and reduce their outflow abroad. On the other hand, it will also increase the employment opportunities for all those who are still able to work, especially the people between the ages of 55 and 58, who are still largely permanently unemployable in Slovenia, because the employers are afraid to hire them.
According to Branko Meh, the president of the Chamber of Craft and Small Businesses of Slovenia (“Obrtno-podjetniška zbornica Slovenije” – hereinafter referred to as OZS), they regret the Constitutional Court’s decision to temporarily suspend the legal provisions regarding the retirement of older workers who have met the conditions for old-age retirement. However, they believe that the Constitutional Court will understand the arguments in favour of the new regulation when deciding on the content. Meh reiterated that this is not about forced retiring, which is what the union headquarters are pointing out, but rather about the regular retiring of those who meet the conditions for old-age retirement. Meh believes that the right thing would be that the employer and the employee talk and agree on the possibility of continuing to work together after the conditions for retirement are met. The president of the OZS also believes that under the current regulation, employers do not want to hire people over the age of 55, as they are uncertain of how they are going to terminate their employment contract after they meet the conditions for old-age retirement. At the same time, he believes that older workers in the public sector or in less strenuous jobs will want to stay employed and will not want to let go of their jobs, which means that young people will not be able to fill these positions. Meh also commented that the is surprised that the same people who defended the rights of workers and the manner of retiring in the former country are now, so to speak, going in the opposite direction. The president of the OZS is disappointed, but he does not deviate from his position, which he has been defending all along.
Minister of Defence Matej Tonin and Minister of Labour Janez Cigler Kralj also responded to the decision on Twitter. Tonin pointed out that the NSi party believes that the consequences of the Constitutional Court’s decision will indeed be irreparable, much more so than the consequences of someone who meets the condition for retiring, actually having to retire. And Cigler Kralj pointed out once again that the COVID-19 epidemic represents the greatest crisis of our time and that the government is actively trying to mitigate its consequences with such measures. “As the competent minister, I still stand behind this measure, which is included in PKP7,” he wrote.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (“Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije” – referred to as GZS) also regrets that the Constitutional Court has temporarily suspended the statutory provisions on the retirement of older workers who meet the conditions for old-age retirement. Namely, they believe that the new regulation introduced by PKP7 would balance the rights of the employers and the employees. The possibility of terminating an employment relationship if the conditions for old-age retirement are met, as stated by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on the one hand, balances the rights of employers and employees, and on the other hand, provides social security for workers who would lose their jobs after meeting the conditions for old-age retirement.
On Tuesday, with seven votes for and two against, the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended the implementation of articles of the Employment Relationship Act and the Public Employees Act, which refer to the regulation of retirement of older workers who have met the conditions for old-age retirement. The articles stipulate that an employer may terminate the employment of an employee who meets the condition for old-age retirement without giving a justified reason. The request for a review of the constitutionality of the provisions from the seventh Anti-corona Legislative Package was submitted by the trade unions. According to the court, the consequences that would follow from further implementation of the possibly unconstitutional legal regulation would be greater than the consequences that would arise if its implementation is suspended until the final decision of the Constitutional Court, even if the assessment shows that they are not, in fact, unconstitutional, they explained.