The major policy reforms of Slovenia’s economic transition have been aimed at improving aid for families. In 2010, Slovenia had the highest employment rate of mothers of small children and a narrow gender pay gap. There are fewer children at risk of poverty than in other European countries. The basis for government policy on the family is found in a government policy paper called the ‘Shaping family policy on the ground’, which includes strategic planning for the development of family policy.
Government support has allowed for a relatively high employment rate for women (60.9 % versus 58.5% for the EU as a whole in 2011), which meets the EU Lisbon target for female employment. Women make up about half of the Slovenian labour force and are on average better qualified than men. Part-time work is rare amongst women (at a rate just above 13.3 %, against an EU average of over 32.1 % in 2011) and similar to the EU average for men (7.9%). The gender pay gap, measured at 4.4 % in 2010, was the lowest in the Union (EU average was 16.4%).
At 78.7 % in 2011, the employment rate of mothers with children under six was the highest in the EU. The EU average was 58.9%. However, young women have difficulties in accessing stable employment — 57.4 % of women under 30 were employed under fixed-term contracts in 2010. According to a 2008 Eurofound survey on young employees (defined as 22 to 35 years old), a negative correlation between age and prevalence of fixed-term contracts meant that younger employees were less likely to have an open-ended contract, with an impact on their job security and willingness to have children.
Investment in social benefits to support family policies, at 2.1 % of GDP in 2009, is close to the EU average (2.3%). Furthermore, the results seem positive for the welfare of children, evidenced by a low number of children at risk of poverty (14.7 %, compared to the EU average of 20.5% in 2010 according to Eurostat).
The monthly ‘child allowance’, available to families whose income per member is below the Slovenian average, varies from € 27 to € 243, depending on the number of children and income of a family. A one-off ‘childbirth allowance’ payment, amounting to € 280 is intended to cover some of the costs related to newborns.
The ‘large family allowance’ is an annual benefit paid to families with three (€ 393) or more (€ 479) children. There are also ‘parental allowances’ available to parents not eligible for the parental benefit linked to parental leave.
The right to 105 working days of maternity leave is near the European average. Fathers have a right to 90 calendar days of paternity leave, but with only 15 days’ absence paid. These paid days must be taken during the first six months of the child's life, while the remaining 75 unpaid days can be taken before the child is three years old, in which case they are translated into their equivalent in working days, calculated as 70% of the total. In 2011,leave was taken up by 80.8 % of fathers for the paid period and 16.7 % for the unpaid. A further right to unpaid parental leave is usually granted for up to 260 calendar days, although it can be longer, and some days can even be reserved to be taken up until the child is eight.
In 2010, Slovenia provided childcare facilities to 37 % of children under three and to 91 % of children between three and school age. Both figures are above the EU averages of 28% and 84% respectively and meet the Barcelona targets for childcare provision. The majority of children of both age groups are enrolled full time.
Among the young parents surveyed by Eurofound in 2008, 29% found it very difficult to balance work and family life, and 65% wanted public childcare facilities to stay open for longer hours while around 30% wanted them open at weekends.
New measures have been designed to reduce the costs of childcare, while national programmes are being established to oversee the activities and salaries of staff. However, childminders are still outside public funding and control, despite a voluntary registration scheme introduced in 2006.
Family Centres which were established in all regions of Slovenia represent important tools to provide preventative actions and to share information at the local level. The purposes of the family centres are multiple, and include education for the family, the promotion of parental skills, the improvement of communication within the family, a programme for children's growth, a programme for creative leisure, periodically organised childcare, arranging holiday activities, assisting in resolving problems in families, as well as other activities. Family Centres are co-financed by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, which provides grants to non-governmental organisationss on the basis of a two-year tender. The activities of Family Centres are also important also from the point of view of intergenerational cooperation (2012 being the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations).
The information in the country profile was last updated in September 2012.
A certificate for family-friendly companies
To help strike a better work-life balance, the Slovenian government introduced in 2007 a certification scheme to encourage employers to apply family-friendly principles in the workplace.
Theis awarded to companies that adopt at least three measures from a catalogue of work-family reconciliation measures, such as flexible working times, company childcare services, job sharing, adoption leave, part-time work and the assistance to care for a disabled family member.