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The eighth anti-corona legislative package passed with 51 votes. The package will help the citizens and will also help maintain the stability of the Slovenian labour market!

The National Assembly has passed the eighth anti-corona legislative package, with which the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic will be mitigated. The package is worth 320 million euros. The eighth legislative package includes two key measures, namely, subsidisation of the increase in the minimum wage, and the extension of the subsidisation for those who have been temporarily laid off. According to the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Janez Cigler Kralj, the government tried to listen and take the opinions of the social partners into account in the proposal for the eighth anti-corona legislative package. Despite the fact that the package will be of great help to the population, the majority of the MPs from the SD, LMŠ and Levica parties abstained from voting on it. Nonetheless, the coalition has strong support, as the law was passed with 51 votes in favour, as some people do seem to understand that this is about the people, not about ideological fights.

The government is once again addressing the real troubles and distress of the people in the eighth anti-corona legislative package, said the Minister Janez Cigler Kralj. “We are addressing many areas and proving once again that with the exceptional response, we can provide the measures that the citizens and the businesses need the most,” the Minister said. The eighth legislative package brings measures which will help preserve jobs, so they will help the labour market and the economy.

The measure of subsidising the pay for those who have been temporarily laid off will stay in place until the end of April, and according to the law, the government will be able to extend it for another month two more times after that. According to the Minister, the legislative package was well received by the employers, and will also have a favourable effect on the labour market. All employers whose revenue will fall by more than 20 percent will be eligible for subsidies. The measure of subsidising the pay for those who have been temporarily laid off has been available to the companies since the epidemic was first declared last spring, and the new legislative package stipulates that the companies that are closed due to the government measures, will be able to receive state compensation for the workers’ wages in full.

The eighth anti-corona legislative package also eliminates inequalities among workers, who were not entitled to the crisis allowance in the amount of 200 euros due to the payment of bonuses for their business performance in December. “We have linked the payment of the crisis allowance to the November salary,” Cigler Kralj explained. This time, a fine will also be imposed for the employers who will not pay the crisis allowance. The circle of beneficiaries who will receive the one-off solidarity allowance has also been made bigger since the seventh anti-corona legislative package; namely, students who are studying abroad, as well as the recipients of disability insurance benefits who are working part-time, as well as war veterans and war invalids will also receive an allowance. Unemployed people who lost their jobs after the 12th of March of last year will now also be entitled to a one-time solidarity allowance of 150 euros. The state will also subsidise part-time work for the farmers who employ workers on employment contracts.

“With the measures from the eighth anti-corona legislative package, the government moved towards the social partners and tried to take their proposals into account wherever possible. Among the key measures of the eighth package is also the extension of subsidies for those who have been temporarily laid off, as well as a measure that will lift the burden of the increase in the minimum wage off of the employers,” Cigler Kralj explained. He also brought up the measures that deal with care for the elderly. This legislative package is valued at 320 million euros.

The eighth legislative package also regulates the issue of raising the minimum wage, which rose to 1024,24 euros gross in January of this year. As the companies are already facing a difficult situation due to the epidemic, part of the burden of financing the raise will be financed by the state. In accordance with the eighth anti-corona legislative package, the state will thus pay the companies 50 euros in subsidies for a worker with minimum wage in the first half of this year, and in the second half, it will offer relief in the form of payment of social contributions.

Financial assistance for the passenger transport operators also part of the package
“Assistance for road and rail transport operators, as well as school transport and occasional van transport operators is also being extended for three months, mostly until the end of June. Additional funds are also being provided for the Red Cross and the Slovenian Caritas,” Cigler Kralj added. The Minister of labour also drew attention to the comprehensive care for the elderly. They often need additional hospital treatment after recovering from an illness, and for those who cannot be discharged to the home environment, the legislative package brings extended care, nursing care, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Member of Parliament Miha Kordiš also spoke up during the session, accusing the government of preparing poor measures, without actually stating concrete examples that would support his claims. “We are working on not becoming the next Switzerland, but the next China. And this is certainly not the way to the future,” he said, insisting that the coalition MPs are lying and are part of a criminal group. SDS MP Anja Bah Žibert has stated she is appalled by Kordiš’s behaviour in the recent months. As she said, she has simply had enough of his verbal attacks, and she believes that the Speaker of the National Assembly should protect the MPs from Kordiš’s attacks.

Contrary to what Kordiš claims, the SD and SAB parties want to subsidise the increase of the minimum wage to only those employers who would not be able to bear the financial burden themselves, but the National Assembly rejected both of their amendments. The legislative package also states that the employer will not be allowed to dismiss employees for business reasons during the period of receiving the subsidy, and for three months after the period has ended.

The Members of Parliament supported the eighth anti-corona legislative package with 51 votes from the SDS, NSi, SMC, DeSUS and SNS parties, as well as the two representatives of the national minorities. The MPs from the Levica party and one deputy each from the LMŠ and SD parties voted against the package. The remaining representatives of the opposition did not vote on the legislative package, as they believe that the government is not tackling the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic in the right way.

Sara Rančigaj

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