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Bill Introduces Mini Jobs for Students, Pensioners (adds)

Ljubljana, 12 March (STA) - Slovenia will introduce mini jobs for students, pensioners and the unemployed in line with a new bill proposal presented Friday that aims to curb rampant abuse of student work, reduce illegal employment, and generate new revenue for pension and health purses.

Anyone over the age og 15, including students, the unemployed and pensioners, will be able to do mini jobs, which will be capped to 14 hours a week (728 hours a year). The minimum hourly wage will be 3.5 euros and the maximum 8 euros, Labour, Family and Social Affairs Minister Ivan Svetlik told the press today.

Tax will be set at 29.5%, with 15.5% earmarked for social security contributions, 6% for a special scholarship fund, 2% for construction of student dormitories and the rest for administrative costs and activities by student and pensioners' organisations.

For students, work done on mini-job contracts will count towards pensionable service and formal work experience. The legislation will give pensioners the chance to extend work activity and allow the unemployed to stay in the labour market. "We are convinced that each of these groups will reap its benefits," Svetlik said.

Like student work, mini jobs will be handled by private employment agencies based on a concession, but on a non-profit basis. There will also be a central registry of mini jobs that Svetlik says would make it easier to detect abuse.

Even before the proposal was unveiled the new jobs scheme was met with loud protests by student organisations, which claim that it will hurt students who rely on odd jobs to put them through university.

But Minister Svetlik denied such charges today, saying that the current system often ends up being a disservice for students.

The Labour Ministry has argued that the current system, where student employment is virtually unlimited and often resembles full-time work, extends years of study and makes it difficult for graduates to enter the formal labour market since they are in direct competition with much cheaper student labour.

It has also pointed out that mini jobs will generate extra revenue to expand existing scholarship schemes so that more students will be eligible and will no longer have to work as much.

In a first reaction on Friday, the Student Organisation of Slovenia (SOS) went as far as calling for the dismissal of Minister Svetlik, saying that the bill was drawn up without analysis and in the absence of social dialogue.

Mini jobs are good for pensioners, but they will increase the number of unstable part-time jobs, the organisation said.

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