On the eve of the International Day of Families, which took place on May 15th, the House of Europe in Zagreb presented a survey regarding work-life balance, overtime work and work during leisure time in Croatia, as well as the perception of Sunday as a non-working day dedicated to family and rest. The survey was conducted in cooperation with the Croatian member of the European Parliament Marijana Petir and MediaNet agency.
The survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample (N=614) of adult employees of the Republic of Croatia aged 18 to 65. The survey was conducted via telephone between 6 and 15 April this year, and its results were presented by Hrvoje Prpić, a MediaNet research coordinator.
Prpić’s main finding is that almost half of the respondents claim to be working overtime. The most common reason, according to their answers, is the large amount of work they have to do in a short amount of time. Still, the survey showed that a much smaller number of workers is obliged to work during their annual leave.
Furthermore, a majority of the sampled people manage to align their work commitments with their family responsibilities within their immediate family and largely succeed in harmonising work-life obligation with their leisure activities. At the same time, 76% of respondents think that people became more aware of the importance of Sunday as a non-working day dedicated to family and rest following the discussion on the subject, explains Prpić.
“A year ago, MediaNet conducted similar research with MEP Petir, which, among other things, showed that the vast majority of respondents (90%) supports introducing Sunday as a non-working day. In the context of this research we can conclude that there is a continued perception of Sunday as “a day when no one should work” according to the answers given by the respondents” – said Mr Prpic from MediaNet.
Croatian member of the European Parliament, Marijana Petir congratulated the International Day of Families to all Croatian citizens and commented on the results of the research. She stated that “the results clearly demonstrate the need to provide a day of rest within a working week, and in the perception of the citizens this day is Sunday, which is also a part of the tradition in Croatian and European culture. Sunday is the day when the family gathers at home together. Therefore, once again, I call on the Government of the Republic of Croatia to ensure a free Sunday for employees, especially for those working in stores and retail.”
Petir also commented on the fourth European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) launched by the Eurofund in 2003 and had since been conducted every four years, involving almost 37,000 citizens from all 28 Member States and five Candidate Countries. The results of this survey, published late last year have shown that Croatia ranks last when it comes to work-life balance scoring only 3,7 on the score level. At the same time, the Netherlands has the highest score that amounts to 6,6. In the other Member States, the ratings are quite high as well so, for example, Slovenia measures 6.3, Austria 6.2, Germany 5.9, Bulgaria 5.5 and Hungary 5.2. Croatia has seen a radical drop from 5,1 in 2007 to 3,7 in 2016 which represents the most significant decline in the entire EU. The policies should focus on contract workers and those employed in production, as well as on people working in the care system, especially younger and middle-aged women to be able to appropriately respond to the deteriorating situation in work-life balance among Croatian citizens.
President of the Trade Union Zlatica Štulić spoke about the disastrous data in the trade sector. She said that “according to the data available to the Trade Union in Croatia there are currently 176.173 people employed in trade (G) related sector (data from May 17, 2017). Out of that, 92.956 are employed in retail, excluding motor vehicle repair and motorcycle repair (G 47) “. She also stressed that “on average every salesman or a cashier must work at least half an hour longer than what is stated in their employment contracts, every single working day. These are the so-called preparatory and closure activities that are not logged as working hours but are demanded from the workers. Except for the days of the weekly rest and the days of the annual leave, each worker, in the remaining 282 days a year, on average works 141 hours more than stated in the employment contract.”
Štulić stressed that this is the lowest estimate of overtime work conducted by the Trade Union according to their members’ data. “These 141 hours represent 81% of the full monthly working hours fund. This shows that on a yearly basis the employee loses almost an entire month’s worth salary while at the same time the State loses a month’s worth of contributions and taxes. This fact shows that several thousand of new workers could be recruited in the trade business”, said Croatian Trade Union President Zlatica Štulić.
As a representative in the European Parliament and a member of the European Interest Group on Work-Life Balance, Marijana Petir is actively involved in all discussions and initiatives related to this issue at the European level. She also submits amendments to address this issue in order to introduce it in as many reports and resolutions of the European Parliament as possible so that this problem would be adequately resolved in the European Commission as well as on Member State’s level.
As a member of the Croatian Parliament, Petir has on two occasions proposed amendments to the existing Trade Act to ensure a non-working Sunday which was both times accepted by the Croatian Parliament. Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court has abolished the decision on both occasions. Given that Croatia is at the very top of the Member State’s charts when it comes to working Sundays, Petir has decided to encourage a public debate on this issue once again to enable all interested parties to express their views through conferences and roundtables that she has organised in the Republic of Croatia.
In cooperation with the MediaNet agency, Marijana Petir has last year conducted a public opinion survey on introducing non-working Sunday and shopping habits on Sundays which has shown that 90% of Croatian citizens firmly believe that shops should be closed on Sundays.
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(Poland has in the meantime introduced a non-working Sunday).