STA, 26 August 2022 - The equal opportunities ombudsman has found that an article of the labour market regulation act discriminates against certain foreigners, as it stipulates a 12-month deadline for third-country nationals to pass an exam on basic knowledge of Slovenian, but not for citizens of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Announcing the decision on Friday, the Advocate of the Principle of Equality said that it had been made based on an initiative of a regional unit of the Employment Service.
It assessed the 12-month deadline as "non-urgent means", as the relevant act also envisages a less strict measure, i.e. that the time period within which a foreigner should pass this exam is not specified, as applied for the citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
The institution also assessed that the measure is not proportionate, as job seekers who do not meet the requirements are deleted from the records regardless of how hard they try to get a job.
"It would be proportionate if it enabled advisers of the Employment Service to make a professional assessment and prepare an employment plan together with a specific job seeker that includes a time frame for the fulfilment of their obligations, as provided for job seekers who are citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland."
The equal opportunities ombudsman also assessed that the distinction regarding the deadlines for passing the exam is based only on the personal circumstance of citizenship, for which, in its opinion, there are no justified reasons.
This "unjustifiably different treatment" particularly affects citizens of Kosovo and North Macedonia of Albanian ethnicity, the institution noted.
"Due to their cultural habits and language, which is unrelated to Slovenian - unlike Bosnian, Serbian or Macedonian, or even Ukrainian and Russian -, they find it more difficult to fulfil the condition of basic knowledge of Slovenian."
For this reason, they are represented in an above-average share among third country nationals whom the Employment Service has to delete from its records due to the non-fulfilment of this conditions.
The Advocate of the Principle of Equality has recommended the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities to eliminate the perceived discrimination, otherwise a request for constitutional review could be filed.