Labour Ministry proposes measures to tackle long-term unemployment

Photo: Czech Television

Although the average unemployment rate in the Czech Republic has been on a steady decline, hitting six percent in September, there are still regions where finding work is a major problem. The Labour Ministry is now proposing measures that would help the worst affected regions and the most vulnerable group of unemployed.

Photo: Czech Television
Although the number of unemployed has been steadily dropping, data from the Labour Office show that the number of people who have been jobless for over two years in on the rise. They now make up a third of the 400,000 unemployed and they roughly fall into three categories – people over 50, mothers looking for work after maternity leave and college graduates without work experience.

The Labour Ministry has now proposed a series of measures to try and get as many of these people as possible back into the work process. They involve motivating both the unemployed and firms able to give them work. At Monday’s government session in Ustí nad Labem, Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová said it was essential to support work mobility in regions with a high unemployment rate suggesting that the state should make a financial contribution to the travel expenses of people willing to commute to work. She would also like to introduce financial benefits for firms ready to take on people who have been unemployed for longer than a year or longer than six months in the case of mothers returning from maternity leave. Employers willing to give them open-ended contracts would get tax reductions on these employees social insurance amounting to over 3,000 crowns per person or else the state could contribute to their salaries during their first year with the company.

Some of these measures – such as the financial contribution towards travel expenses could come into force at the start of next year, the others would follow in due course. Although details of the plan have yet to be settled the Social Democratic Party’s coalition partners –ANO and the Christian Democrats have indicated they are ready to support the project. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said the money would be made available.

Andrej Babiš,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“Measures to help reduce unemployment are part of our coalition agreement so all that we need to settle is how best to go about it – whether to offer tax breaks or a financial contribution under strictly stated conditions.”

The Christian Democrats have also pledged support for the scheme, saying that helping people over 50 and mothers with children return to the work process is one of their own top priorities.

The Labour Ministry is hoping that the measures will help around 60 thousand long-term unemployed return to work. In addition it has unveiled a plan to help workers who are going to be laid off. It wants to release 250 million crowns for projects implemented in cooperation with the Labour Office which would help these people undergo requalification courses and make a smooth transition to another job rather than going on the dole and losing their work habits.