The Czech Republic is the only new EU member state to receive more foreign
workers than it posts abroad, suggests an analysis on labour mobility
published on the government’s website on Tuesday. The report indicates
that in 2014, Czech companies sent 10,400 workers to other states, while
the Czech Republic received 17,200 foreign workers.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, along with his Slovak and Austrian counterparts, is set to discuss the EU directive on posting of workers with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting in Salzburg next week.
In the first quarter of 2017, the Czech consulate in Lvov, Ukraine received almost 4,000 applications from Ukrainians looking to work in the Czech Republic, a number three times higher than the entire number of applications one year earlier. Domestic firms have made no secret of their interest in hiring Ukrainian labour, an initiative backed by the government and also the president. But organization has been a different matter: processing applications has been altogether too slow.
The Czech consulate in the Ukrainian city of Lvov is snowed under with requests for work visas to the Czech Republic, Czech Television reported. In the first three months of this year the consulate received close to three thousand visa applications, which is more than in the entire preceding year. Despite a pressing need for more Ukrainian workers in the Czech Republic, only a third of the applications were processed. The Czech Foreign Ministry has now increased the monthly quota for workers from Ukraine promising that as of May the consulate should issue around 800 work visas a month.
A police raid on the country’s second biggest online grocer, which resulted in the detention of 85 foreign nationals on suspicion of working illegally in the country, has thrown light on a much bigger problem. The record low unemployment rate and the restrictions on the number of Ukrainian workers allowed to enter the labour market has led some firms to employ Ukrainians with work permits for Poland. According to a member of the Association of Employment Agencies the case detected last week is merely the tip of the iceberg and in reality there are
The second largest online grocer on the Czech market – Rohlik.cz had to suspend operation on Thursday following a raid by the foreign police on the company’s Prague warehouse. It was the second police inspection in the past seven months at the e-shop which is trying to increase its share on the Czech online grocery market, already becoming too tight for ambitious competitors.
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.