The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs establishes and enforces minimum wage standards. In 2015 the national minimum wage increased from 9,200 to 9,900 koruna (from $375 to $403) per month. The “minimum subsistence cost,” defined as the minimum amount needed to satisfy the basic needs of a working age adult for a month, was 2,200 koruna ($90). Enforcement of the minimum wage was one of the primary objectives of SBLI inspections.
The law provides for a 40-hour workweek, two days of rest per week, and a break of at least 30 minutes during the standard eight-hour workday. Employees are entitled to at least 20 days of paid annual leave. Employers may require up to eight hours per week of overtime to meet increased demand but not more than 150 hours of overtime in a calendar year. Additional overtime is subject to the consent of the employee. The labor code requires premium pay for overtime that is equal to at least 125 percent of average earnings.
The government set occupational health and safety standards. The labor code obliges an employer to provide safety and health protection in the workplace, maintain a safe and healthy work environment, and prevent health and safety risks.
SBLI inspectors conducted 6,801 checks for compliance with the labor code. The SBLI imposed fines totaling 14.4 million koruna ($590,000) for substantial violations involving contracts, wages, overtime pay, working hours, and rest periods. In 2015 there were 334 labor inspectors for occupational health and safety standards in the country. SBLI’s labor inspection plan focused on sectors where there were typically high-risk working conditions, such as construction, agriculture, and forestry.
The SBLI is responsible for combating illegal employment. Labor inspectors prioritized inspections for illicit employment in those sectors that were especially vulnerable to illegal employment, such as the lodging/catering, retail, warehousing and logistic centers, agricultural, forestry, and construction industries. Inspectors conducted numerous inspections in selected, seasonal businesses, including outdoor swimming parks, ski resorts, gasoline stations, and service stations. To strengthen the effectiveness of inspections, SBLI inspectors acted in conjunction with the Labor Office, the Social Insurance Bureau, the Licensing Office, foreign police, the Customs Office, and police. In 2015 they conducted 9,583 inspections and imposed fines equal to 16 million koruna ($652,000) for substantial violations of labor laws involving illegal employment, contracts and wages, denied salary bonus payments, working hours and rest periods, and residency and working permits.
In 2015 the SBLI conducted 539 checks in work agencies employing migrant workers. According to the SBLI, the inspections revealed inconsistencies in work agreements, denials of salary bonus payments or on-time salary payments, as well as inconsistencies involving working hours, overtime, and breaks. For substantial infringements of the labor law, the SBLI imposed 158 fines totaling 4.2 million koruna ($171,000). Although the SBLI did not find any cases of systematic discrimination based on citizenship, gender, age, or health status, violations were most frequently reported in cases where labor and wage conditions for permanent staff differed from those of temporary workers hired by agencies.
Employers sometimes ignored standard work conditions requirements in situations involving migrant workers. Over 90 percent of migrant workers were Ukrainians. Migrant workers were most frequently employed in the construction industry and forestry. Many of them worked in the so-called shadow economy with no work permits and often faced hazardous and exploitative working conditions. Relatively unskilled foreign workers from less developed countries were sometimes dependent on temporary employment agencies to find and retain work. Migrants sometimes worked in substandard conditions and were subjected to undignified treatment by these agencies. Most commonly, salaries were paid to the agencies, which then garnished them, resulting in workers receiving subminimum wages, working overtime without proper compensation, or working without compensation. Since migrant workers seldom filed formal complaints of such abuses, authorities had few opportunities to intervene.
The SBLI effectively enforced health and safety standards. Laws requiring acceptable conditions of work cover all workers equally in all sectors. During the year the SBLI conducted 10,608 checks focused on health and safety standards, primarily in the construction, manufacturing, transportation, agricultural, forestry, and heavy machine industries. The inspections occurred both proactively and in response to complaints. Authorities imposed fines totaling 6.6 million korunas $269,000 in cases where infringement of the law was substantial.
In 2015 the number of registered injuries in the workplace increased by 2.8 percent from 2014. Fatal accidents increased by 12 percent during 2015. The vast majority of workplace injuries and deaths occurred in the mining, transport, construction, warehousing, and processing industries. According to the SBLI, the most common causes of injuries or fatal incidents included underestimated risk, falls from height, irresponsible application of dangerous work procedures and techniques, unauthorized conduct and/or stay in hazardous zones, and failure to observe bans. Employees of small and medium-sized companies often declined to use protective gear even though their employer provided it.
Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and the SBLI aimed to enforce this standard consistently.