Shadow economy: Half a million seasonal workers undocumented

The Law on Temporary Work Engagement of Seasonal Workers, which is currently being drafted, should make the state authorities more efficient in combating shadow economy in this segment – says Ministry of Labour.

The law is supposed to be finished by the year end, and it stipulates new penalties for those employers who hire undocumented seasonal workers.

The data collated by the Serbian Statistics Office shows that out of the total of 570,696 undocumented workers, two thirds (or 374,879) work in agriculture. Compared to last year, the number of undocumented workers grew the most in the agricultural sector, that is by 9% or 30,809 persons.

Why the authorities believe that the new regulation will help with reduction of the number of undocumented seasonal workers, experts claim that having a new law is simply not enough for this problem to be resolved. The labour inspectors and Tax Administration will be in charge of supervising the implementation of this law.

“We would like to underline that the National Programme for Combating Shadow Economy stipulates other measures too, and that its main goal is to reduce a share that shadow economy has in the national GDP from the current 30.1% to 26.7%. In order to achieve this, we need a more efficient supervision of shadow economy, better fiscal system, reduction in the administrative and financial burdens on businesses, raising awareness of the importance of combating shadow economy, and boosting motivation for adhering to regulation”, the Ministry of Labour says.

President of the Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions, Ranka Savic says that she supports adoption of the new law.

“As a trade union activist, I support all regulation that will eliminate shadow economy employment. Undocumented workers are not entitled to pension or health insurance and it is certainly in their best interest to have their employers registering them in line with the relevant regulation. True, there are some workers that want to remain undocumented. However, the claims made by certain employers that most undocumented workers prefer working this way are just an excuse for employers not to pay their financial obligations towards the state”, Savic explains.

(Danas, 26.03.2017)

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