Employers have criticized Interior Minister Milan Chovanec for advocating a tough line with foreign workers who violate the law. In an interview for the daily Pravo, the minister said a foreign worker who violated the law should be sacked on the spot and should be banned from working in the country thereafter. Marketa Schormova, a legal expert for the Czech Business Chamber says this practice would be in violation of the Labor Code, since employers can only fire an employee who has been found guilty of intentionally breaking the law. Minister Chovanec based his proposal on statistics that suggest a growing number of foreign workers, predominantly from Poland and Ukraine, had in recent months committed petty crime or broken the law in some way. The Czech Business Chamber has stressed the country badly needs foreign workers and their lack could be a brake for future economic growth.
The Czech labour authorities caught more foreigners than Czechs working illegally for the first time ever last year, iDnes.cz reported on Wednesday. While 1,338 non-nationals were uncovered working off the books in 2016, the number of Czechs was 758. The previous year the figures were the other way around, iDnes said. The highest number of undocumented foreign employees came from Ukraine, Vietnam, Slovakia and Moldova. Fines totalling CZK 71 million were imposed on employers using illegal workers last year.
In times of boom and for selected fields of employment the Czech Republic has frequently looked East to supplement its labour force. A decade or two ago, the target was Slovak nurses and doctors. Now, there’s a system in place offering a supposedly fast track recruitment system for Ukrainians seeking skilled and not so skilled job for large parts of Czech industry. But the system has been beset by problems and there have been disagreements about how to go forward.
The Cabinet has approved an amendment to the foreigners’ law which would enable foreign nationals to work in the country for a longer period before needing to extend their visas. Under the amendment the current 90 day period would be extended to 6 months, and in the event of a significant investment project even 2 years. The move comes in the wake of criticism regarding the number of bureaucratic hurdles foreigners working in the country face. The proposed amendment will now go to the lower house for debate.
The Czech government is readying to debate a proposed amendment which should make it easier for foreign investors, planning significant investment in the Czech Republic, easier to gain long-term residency permits. Under the proposal, applicants would be allowed to stay for two years before their project came under review by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. Under the current system, investors must first apply for long-term visas.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose in July after a steady fall since February of this year. Currently, unemployment stands at 5.4 percent – up from 5.2 in June. The rise, at least in part, is due to new graduates entering the labour market who have yet to secure work. In all, more than 392,000 people are out of work.