Faced by an acute labour shortage, the Czech government is looking to attract more foreign workers and streamline the processing of issuing work permits. In recent years, the country has in particular turned to Ukraine to help fill the gap. The government wants to do the same for workers from EU hopefuls such as Montenegro, Moldova and Serbia, as well as India and other Asian countries.
The number of government programs for the employment of foreigners in Czech
companies will be halved as of September 1, the President of the Chamber of
Commerce Vladimír Dlouhý told reporters on Friday. The present six
programs will be reduced to three and the conditions for including workers
and employers in the program will be unified.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade will only handle employers' applications for highly qualified employees or researchers, while the Chamber of Commerce will assist companies with all other employee applications.
In the transformed Qualified Employee Program, the Chamber will accept applications from companies for workers from Ukraine, Montenegro, Serbia, the Philippines, India, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Mongolia. The government sets individual annual quotas for each country.
From September the quota for workers from Ukraine will also be gradually increased to 40,000 per year. So far it has been 19,600 people.
An amendment to the law on foreigners, in effect as of the beginning of August, has brought a series of changes concerning mainly foreigners from non-EU countries. Among other things, it introduces compulsory integration courses and quotas for economic migration. But, according to migration experts, the law is excessively restrictive.
Just over 3,200 foreign doctors are currently working in the country,
according to data from the Czech Medical Chamber (ČLK).
Slovaks are by far the most numerous, with an estimated 2,800 working here. There are also hundreds of Ukrainians, Russians, Poles and Belarusians.
The proximity of Slavic languages and poorer working conditions in their home countries are said to be the main factors for the influx.
Labour inspectors last year uncovered almost 4,600 people working illegally
in the Czech Republic. This was considerably higher than the figure for
2017, an official said on Wednesday. Employers were fined a total of over
CZK 151 million for hiring undocumented workers last year.
Some 80 percent of those caught working illegally in 2018 were from outside the European Union. Of those from inside the EU, the majority were Czech citizens, with the others mainly coming from Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.
About 200,000 foreigners work in the Czech capital and constitute one fifth
of the workforce, according to an analysis by the City’s Institute of
Planning and Development (IPR Prague).
Foreign workers in Prague are mainly filling jobs requiring unskilled labour it said. Two-thirds are citizens of non-EU countries.
At the end of June 2018, according to the study, most were citizens of Ukraine (49,306), Russia (23,338), Vietnam (12,765), US (6,556) and China (4,967).
Meanwhile, a study by Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences notes that four in five foreigners registered in Prague have a high school diploma or university degree.
The Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs is considering more regulation
of agency employment. It also wants the Labour Office to have more powers
to combat the exploitation of foreign workers, Minister Jana Maláčová
told the Czech News Agency on Friday. She said these measures were part of
a larger set that will be included in an employment bill due to be
published in the second quarter of this year.
The minister also reacted to an investigative article published by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which reported on miserable conditions for migrant workers employed at a Czech company owned by Agrofert, a conglomerate founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. Ms. Maláčová said the article could act as an incentive for an investigation by labour inspectors. Mr. Babiš has said the Deutsche Welle story was ‘made up’.
Czech Prime Minister Andre Babiš has slammed a report by Deutsche Welle,
which said foreign workers employed in a company linked to Mr Babiš work
in very poor conditions. The report, which was published on Tuesday, also
said the foreign workers arrived in the Czech Republic in terrible
circumstances. The ANO party leader said the article was fabricated and
full of lies.
The author of the report cited a Vietnamese, who used to work in the poultry factory Vodňanská drůbež in Mirovice, about 80 kilometres southwest of Prague, which belongs to the Agrofert Holding, founded by Andrej Babiš.
Mr Babiš turned Agrofert into trust funds in 2017 in order to comply with the conflict of interest law, but his critics say he is still in control since the trusts are managed by his family members and lawyers