Sunday, 18 March 2018

HN: Number of foreign illegal workers in Czech Republic rising

27 February 2018

Prague, Feb 26 (CTK) - The number of foreigners working illegally has been rising in the Czech Republic, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) reported on Monday.

Czech companies are increasingly more facing a lack of workforce, which makes them resort to taking the risk of employing foreigners without a work permit, HN writes.

The latest police data reveal that more than 3,000 illegal workers were expelled from the country in 2017, which is eight times more than in 2013. The problem is most marked in construction and industry, HN writes.

"It is highly probable that these numbers will grow further. This applies most frequently to the Ukrainians who work here holding Polish visas. These do not entitle them to gainful occupation in the Czech Republic," HN quotes Czech foreigner police analyst Vladimir Takac as saying.

The reasons contributing to the companies' use of illegal workers include the currently low unemployment level of 2.5 percent and the lengthy procedures to obtain work permits for workers coming from countries outside the EU, HN writes.

Although the limit for the incoming workers from the Ukraine has been increased to 20,000 new work permits a year since January, Czech companies are still seeking to fill 230,000 positions.

"The lack of workers is critical. Some companies resort to employing foreigners without the necessary documents out of despair. The consequences can be very serious though, beginning with the reputational risk up to financial sanctions," Czech Confederation of Industry Vice-President Milena Jaburkova told HN.

Companies, which face fines of up to ten million crowns for illegal employment, often use work agencies supplying foreign workers, without checking they actually have the required permits.

Last year, the fines reached 70 million crowns in total and the number of expelled foreigners has doubled year-on-year, HN writes.

The rules for legal employment of foreigners are to be simplified and the process of issuing work permits should be sped up, which could help resolve the companies' problems in the short term, HN cites Czech Economic Chamber spokesman Miroslav Benes.

Czech Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS) head Josef Stredula told HN he believed that Czech companies should increase wages and thus attract workers from the surrounding EU member states, mainly from the Visegrad Four countries, that is Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

"The lack of people is an excuse. We speak particularly about people who are being lured from countries where there is a low cost of work. Nobody is forced to employ anyone illegally, Stredula told HN.

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