The Cabinet has drafted a new conflict-of-interest law. It will not require the spouses of politicians and other public officials to disclose assets that are listed in their name alone, as organisations like the corruption watchdog Transparency International had been hoping for. Minister of Justice Pavel Nemec said the draft law improves upon previous legislation in setting out more precise guidelines.
The Cabinet this week also moved to shift the burden of paying for employees' sick days from the state to the employer, in part to stem chronic absenteeism in the Czech workplace. Under the government's plan, employers would be required to pay 30 percent of the assessment based for the first three days of an employee's illness. The state now pays 23 percent. After two weeks of sick days, the employer would pay 69 percent of the base. Part of the Cabinet's sick-pay proposal is a cap on social-security tax as of 2007 at five times the average monthly wage, equivalent to about 90,000 crowns, roughly $3,800.
On an official visit to Prague this week, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that Berlin would insist on the full use of the seven-year transitional period for the free movement of labour from the new European Union member states, including the Czech Republic. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, arguing for a Czech exemption, said the nation's largely immobile workforce represented no threat to the German labour market.
One third of the Czech jobless have been looking for work for more than two years, compared to 5 percent in 1993, according to a study published by the Czech Statistical Office this week. Out of the 410,000 jobless last year, 135,000 were registered at employment offices for over two years, it said. In 1993, only 10,000 out of 200,000 unemployed had been looking for a job for more than two years.
Meanwhile, the lower house has approved legislation under which companies would receive financial incentives for hiring people over the age of 50, as well as fresh school graduates. The bill has yet to be debated by the Senate and signed by the president.
Retailers selling ice hockey strips and equipment have seen a significant rise in sales following the Czech Republic's win in the sport's world championships last weekend. One sports shop owner told the daily Lidove noviny that sales normally increase by around 20 percent immediately after any Czech success, with the biggest increase being recorded in 1998, when the country took gold at the Winter Olympics in Nagano.
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