The impact of the economic crisis is becoming evident through statistics on families with children. But despite that fact, Slovenia still has the highest employment rate of mothers of small children and the narrowest gender pay gap in the EU. Nevertheless there are fewer children at risk of poverty than in other European countries.
The basis for government policy on the family is a document called the ‘The Resolution on the Principles of the Formation of Family Policy in Slovenia', which includes strategic planning for the development of family policy.
Government support has allowed for a relatively high employment rate for women (60.5 % versus 58.5 % for the EU as a whole in 2012), which meets the EU Lisbon target for female employment. Employment rates for women remain high despite the impact of the economic crisis which results in higher unemployment in society as a whole and amongst women as well. But nevertheless it needs to be noted that employment rates for women are still lower than employment rates for men (67.4 % in 2012).
Part-time work was rare amongst women in 2012 (just above 13.1 %, against an EU average of over 32.5 %). The gender pay gap, measured at 2.5 % in 2012, was the lowest in the EU (the EU average was 16.2 % in 2011).
At 75.5 % in 2012, the employment rate of mothers with children under 6 was the highest in the EU (the EU average was 59.2 %). This shows that mothers in Slovenia do not retreat from the labour market. New Parental and Family Benefit Act that came into force in 29. 4. 2014 extended the right to work part-time when having two children from 6 year of children until the end of first grade of primary school.
The aforementioned Act has brought some changes that affect parental leave as well, which is an important measure that enhance support of parents’ reintegration into the labour market. The right to 105 working days of maternity leave is close to the European average and it stays the same as last year. Each parent has the right to take 130 days of parental leave, of which mother could transfer 100 days on father, but 30 days are non-negotiable and only mother could use them (but the father may transfer whole of 130 days of parental leave on mother). Before updated legislation fathers have a right to 90 calendar days of father leave, but with only 15 days’ absence paid. According to data majority of fathers take up to 15 days and not the whole 90 days. Research suggests that this is due to the fact that their earning are not (fully) compensated throughout. Based on this findings legislation allows 15 days of fathers leave after newborn, together with mother and it adds another 15 days (paid) after the expiry of parental leave (after one year). This means that the whole duration of leaves because of the birth of the child is extended from 12 months to 12 months and a half. A time delay of implementation of this new measure is provided by law.
Employment is not the only source for providing adequate living standards – a combination of different benefits has an important role as well.
Investment in social benefits to support family policies, at 2.2 % of GDP in 2011, is similar to the EU average (2.2%). Figures are slightly higher than in previous years, when social benefits to support family policies were at 2.1% of GDP (2009), even though GDP in 2012 was lower (€ 17,200) in comparison to 2011 (€ 17,600).
The monthly ‘child allowance’, available to families whose income per member is below the Slovenian average, ‘large family allowance’ and ‘parental allowance’ are family benefits that are amongst the most important one for families with children.
Figures for children of both age groups enrolled full time in formal childcare are much above the EU averages and meet the Barcelona targets for childcare provision for children under three (SI: children under three: 37% and EU average 30%; SI: children between three and minimum compulsory school age: 92% and EU average: 83%). Only 3% of children under three and 11 % of children above three years of age are enrolled in formal settings for less than 30 hours.
New measures have been designed to reduce the costs of childcare, while national programs 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.
The results seem positive for the welfare of children, evidenced by a low number of children (0-18) at risk of poverty (16.4% in 2012 compared to the EU-28 average of 28.1% in 2012; at-risk-of poverty rate among children aged 12-17 was 18.4 % in 2012). But it should be noted that the situation is not as positive as it may appear at first. The impact of the crisis has consequences for children, as at-risk-of poverty rates among children increased in 2011 by 2.1 percentage points in comparison to the year before. This is the highest increase since 2005 when child poverty was measured using the same methodology.
Slovenia has a relatively well-developed family policy aimed at enabling the reconciliation of professional and family obligations, providing equal opportunities to both sexes and a horizontal redistribution of income in favour of families with children.
The biggest challenge for Slovenia in the future will be to face the impacts of the economic crisis regarding work-family reconciliation in as effective a way as possible.
The information in the country profile was last updated in January 2015.
A certificate for family-friendly companies
Gender roles (fathers' take-up of parental and paternity leave, for instance), work/family life balance and equal opportunities on the labour market are of particular research interest. 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.