As Večernji List reported in July 2017, Davor Štern, a businessman, former Economy Minister, and the Honorary Consul General to the Philippine Consulate in Zagreb, proposed to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) a temporary solution to the labour shortage in the Croatian economy – and that is to hire Filipino workers to remedy the workforce problems in tourism, hospitality, health, and construction. Mirjana Čagalj, the Vice President of HGK, agreed to further discuss this proposal after stating that there is still a shortage of as many as 3,000 employees in the tourism sector even after using up the quota of 2,080 for hiring foreign workers. She expressed the need to raise the quota for foreign workers so that Croatian companies can survive and maintain their competitiveness. According to Štern, the Philippines has state agencies for overseas employment that find and screen candidates, process their paperwork, negotiate the contract and basic salaries, organise their transport, and make sure that their workers return to the Philippines upon the termination of their contract. He claims that Filipinos are educated and industrious people and that the Croatian standard salary of 500 to 600 euros would not be too small for them. The proposal earned a lot of negative reactions including the worries that the arrival of Filipino workers would reduce the cost of wages in Croatia while the amount of work required for employees would rise because Filipinos are known for their high productivity. However, Minister of Labor Marko Pavić was not supportive of this proposal – to him, retraining Croats is his priority and hiring workers from neighboring countries is better because the arrival of Filipinos would cause a culture shock to Croatian people.
Four years since the release of this article, Croatia has now hired over a thousand Filipino workers.
How does Anenias Zapošljavanje JDOO work?
We are a Croatian-based recruitment agency and together with our partner Prime Destination International Recruitment Agency, Inc, a Philippine-based agency, we recruit Filipinos to work for Croatian companies and employers, especially in the hotel, hospitality and tourism industry. So far, we have hired drivers, hotel staff, restaurant staff, bartenders, caregivers, factory workers, fish farmers, carpenters, electricians, yacht-builders, builders and fitters, butchers, and agricultural workers. We have now brought in more than 300 Filipino workers in Croatia.
Photo Credit: Anenias Zapošljavane JDOO
Why is there a need for foreign workers in Croatia? Is it cheaper to hire foreign workers and in this case, Filipino workers?
The salary always depends on the kind of work and the company they are working for but the company that hires a Filipino worker is required to pay for their flight tickets, visas, accommodation and food costs so in the end, hiring a Filipino worker costs almost the same as hiring a Croatian national.
The Croatian government has been having problems with their workforce because a lot of Croatians leave the country to work in Germany and in other European countries because there, they would have better salaries and benefits. Before, the Croatian government hired workers from nearby countries like Bosnia and Serbia but there is still a lack of workforce especially for the tourism sector. Around 2018, the government became more open to foreign workers and from then on, a lot of agencies have opened to hire 3rd country nationals. By 2019, Anenias Zapošljavanje has brought in more than 100 Filipino workers.
A lot of Croatian companies and employers like to hire Filipino workers because they are good workers and are very flexible. For example, most Filipino workers have no problem doing overtime or having changing and flexible shifts; whereas most Croatians are very stern with their working time and hours. The downside in hiring Filipino workers is that they tend to talk and gossip a lot and Croatian employers are not really fond of that! Haha.
What is the first thing you need to have before working in Croatia?
Find a good and trustworthy agency
- Make sure you check the legitimacy of your agency first. For Filipino workers, please check if the agency you are considering is registered in the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in this link: https://www.poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/agSearch.asp Here, you can find agencies the are blacklisted too.
- It is important that the agency is registered in POEA (or your country’s equivalent) because then, the employment administration could oversee and regulate the contract and make sure that it meets the requirements and standards needed to legally employ a worker.
- It is also important to know that foreign-based recruitment agencies are only legally allowed to recruit through POEA-accredited Philippine recruitment agencies – and that is Prime Destination International Recruitment Agency, Inc. (our Philippine-based company partner), for us.
What are the documents needed to prepare by Filipinos to get a job in Croatia?
These are charges for services rendered and the standard recruiting fee from agencies. The fee varies from agency to agency, but with our partner Prime Destination International Recruitment Agency, Inc, it is usually equivalent to an employee’s one-month salary.
Filipinos are required to undergo full medical check-ups before getting a job abroad. This usually costs between 3,000PHP to 5,000PHP (388kHRK to 645HRK)
Shipping fee for visas
Unfortunately, the Philippines only has the Croatian Consulate so they need to pay for passport and visa shipping from Manila to Jakarta, Indonesia where the Croatian Embassy is based. Although since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Croatian Consulate has been temporarily closed due to the main employee getting infected with the virus. Now, we need to use third-party services such as VFS Global, and this costs around 8,000PHP to 9,000PHP (1033.44HRK to 1162.62HRK); but through Croatian Consulate, it costs 2,900PHP (374.60HRK).
IMPORTANT: For this year, a new rule has been placed – the National Bureau of Investigation clearance with apostille mark and COVID-19 PCR test with 72-hours validity before their flight are now required to get a job in Croatia.
How does Anenias Zapošljavanje process this paperwork?
Our Philippine-based partner Prime Destination International Agency organize the papers, medical and transportation of our Filipino workers in the Philippines. The candidates who were chosen to work in Croatia need to provide to Anenias Zapošljavanje the following: National Bureau of Investigation clearance, TESDA certificates, copy of passport, and resume. With these documents, we can apply for their working permit here in Croatia and the working permit usually gets released more or less within 16 days upon submission.
After Anenias Zapošljavanje secures the working permit, the employer/company will pay what they need to shoulder. This includes visa fees, cost of the working permits, flight tickets and travel insurance of the Filipino workers.
What are the salary and benefits a Filipino worker can get in Croatia?
After Filipino workers arrive in Croatia, they need to report to the nearest police station where they will be staying. After this, Filipino workers will get their OIB (tax identification number), a bank account with their work contract, pension fund (Mirovinski), and healthcare card (Zdravstveno Osiguranje)
It depends from job to job but usually, the minimum salary is from 3,700HRK to 4,000HRK. To calculate your gross salary vs. net salary: you may refer here: https://www.rrif.hr/wct_index.php?run=kalk116&wct=230&fbclid=IwAR2OARxLCRrslLvmj1pis1eTsg-5G9dlCYsemds2EsjzCkFiylcqhi3fpPU
Meals and accommodation
It is mandatory for the company who hired them to provide their workers food and accommodation. If food is not provided, they should at least give a meal allowance of 500HRK. If meals and accommodation are not provided by the company, Filipino workers may refuse to work and are allowed to break the contract with the company. This is usually stated in the contract that follows the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Basic Health Care
All workers are entitled to basic health care paid by their employers. In Anenias Zapošljavanje, we also get our Filipino workers’ supplementary insurance (dopunsko osiguranje).
Mirovinski Pension Fund
All Filipino workers are entitled to have a basic pension fund. In Croatia, they will get a Mirovinski 1 fund for pension and a Mirovinski 2 fund for an investment fund. Depending on how long they have worked in Croatia and how much they have contributed to this fund, Filipino workers would be entitled to receive their basic pension when they reach a certain age which is usually after the age of 60 – there is an ongoing reform on Croatian pension system so you can refer to this link to get the latest updates on your Mirovinski pension fund: https://www.mirovinsko.hr/hr/mirovine/10
If you manage to get a good job in Croatia that has a higher salary which is around 7,000HRK, you will have a chance to bring a family member to Croatia. The law in Croatia is that you can reunite with a family member if you are financially able to support them – you need to at least have 2,000HRK per dependent. This is highly beneficial for single parents with 1 kid or 2 kids because unlike in the Philippines, education and health care in Croatia are free.
If your employer likes your performance and asked you to stay permanently – then you will be considered as a highly qualified 3rd-country national. After continuously working in Croatia for at least 4 years, you will be entitled to apply for a permanent residency in Croatia. If you manage to work in Croatia continuously for 7 years, then you will be entitled to apply for citizenship considering you have a certificate of Croatian language proficiency.
Since Croatia relies a lot on tourism, how long does a working contract with a Filipino worker last? Are they entitled to go home at least once per year in the Philippines?
We always give them a one-year contract, if not, at least for 8 months. They are entitled to go home after that. It always depends on the company if they want to renew the contract or send them home after the contract finishes.
What is your advice to Filipinos who want to work in Croatia?
Always, always always check your contract!!! Prior to departing the Philippines, you will sign a contract that was checked and approved by POEA. When you arrive in Croatia, the company will provide you with another contract both written in English and in Croatian. Always double-check this contract. If anything, the only contract you are entitled to follow is the one that you signed in the Philippines – which is government-approved.
What should Filipino workers know?
Cross-country recruiting. Recently, there have been a lot of agencies that recruit from the Middle East and this is very dangerous for Filipino workers. Although these agencies are legally allowed to recruit Filipino workers who are already working overseas in the Middle East, this kind of contract would not be registered in the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency. This will leave you in a vulnerable position because your government would not be able to protect you if the contract gets breached. For example, the POEA-approved contract always makes sure that Filipino workers get free accommodation and food. It makes sure that when you arrive back in the Philippines, you will be entitled to OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) benefits – the government will pay for your quarantine stay in a hotel and all the costs of your transportation and COVID-19 tests. Also, if you get any medical emergencies, your government would not be able to assist your repatriation. This is very dangerous especially with the current circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, usually, Filipinos who were recruited from the Middle East have reported that they have spent 150,000PHP to 200,000PHP (2000EUR and 3x more than what Filipinos who were hired through POEA-licensed companies usually pay) because they also have to cover the flight ticket and visa expenses which should not happen if the contract is registered under POEA.
If your company decides to terminate your contract unfairly, your government would not be able to protect you. Without a working contract, your working permit in Croatia will be cancelled and this will turn you into an illegal alien in Croatia. If the police catches you, you would have to do the following:
You have 30 days to leave Croatia. If you don’t leave within 30 days, by Croatian law, you will receive extradition plus jail time until you secure a flight home. You need to pay a fine and on top of that, you will be black-listed. You will need to shoulder these expenses – the company and the agency who hired you would not be held liable for this.
How did COVID-19 affect your company and the Filipino workers?
Filipino workers received government Covid support during the pandemic time. Not all Filipinos did because not all employers can apply for that – only the ones that were affected by the pandemic most especially the tourism and travel sector.
It affected Anenias Zapošljavanje a lot. We were supposed to bring 86 people last year for the tourism industry and I managed to bring only one.
Any message you want to send to the 3rd country nationals who want to work in Croatia?
Be smart and use your brain!
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