More Workers From BiH? Government Approves Highest Foreign Worker Quota Yet

Lauren Simmonds

The government gives the green light to a considerably higher foreign worker quota.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of December, 2017, there are two bilateral agreements in question, one for seasonal workers in the tourism and agriculture sectors, and another for the construction sector.

Today, the Croatian government approved the highest quota for the employment of foreign workers from countries outside of the European Union, a total of 31,000, of which 9,000 refer to the extension of existing permits, while 22,000 are for new workers.

The government gave its nod of approval to Minister Mladen Pavić to begin negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina on the possibility of referring workers from BiH-based companies to work in the Republic of Croatia. Such a possibility would have been negotiated through two bilateral agreements – one for seasonal workers in tourism companies and one for similar jobs in agriculture, and another for the construction sector.

So far, there is no real information on just how much employment would be made available through this new regime, and HGK’s Davorko Vidović, Labour Policy Advisor, says it’s too early to be talking about that. Negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina are merely in progress, and the negotiating and agreeing procedure itself is long and very complicated. In his opinion, the approval of a higher quota for foreign workers is a good solution, with which Croatia has had a good experience in the past, through a similar special agreement with Germany.

Owing to certain more complicated specifities when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which the agreement should be approved by ten cantons and two entities, it is estimated that such a regime will struggle to survive. However, as you may have noticed, there are a great many workers from Bosnia and Herzegovina already present in Croatia, not only owing to the existing quota regime or to dual citizenship, but also through Slovenian companies. For a long time now, Slovenia hasn’t really enforced much of a strict quota regime.

Owing to Slovenia’s somewhat ”light” approach to their foreign workers quota, around 6000 people work for Slovenian companies in the Republic of Croatia, who are mostly citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The competent Croatian institutions such HGK and the HUP have been fighting for Slovenian-style system for years, now even more when things have become intensified, especially in the construction and tourism sectors, from which workers have naturally taken the opportunity to move freely within the European Union. In Slovenia, for example, there are between 30 and 40 thousand foreign workers.

It is estimated that Croatia’s decision to approve a higher foreign worker quota will have a generally positive effect, for example, it will primarily enable a large number of Croatian companies to address their very real need for workers. So far, in practice, the rule was that quotas were approved according to the speed of the application, as opposed to according to the need for the realisation of jobs, so some companies didn’t use the obtained licenses, while others couldn’t get them.

Such a method of quota allocation will continue to apply, but with a larger number of permits, the hope is that the new system will meet the needs of a large number of companies.


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