Employing foreigners in Slovakia has some pitfalls as well as positive aspects for employers. Foreign nationals living in Slovakia, or those seeking to come here for work, are highly motivated to find and keep a job or to improve their qualifications. Foreign nationals can bring new ideas to workplaces and enrich their colleagues by their knowledge of different cultural and work experiences. When hiring a foreigner, an employer also acquires an employee who has mastered several languages, which can help in communication with customers in other parts of the world. But if the person comes from a country that is not a member state of the European Union there are additional administrative procedures that consume more time on the side of the employer as well as the employee.
Foreigners working in Slovakia
According to the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic, a total of 67,976 foreigners lived in Slovakia at the end of 2010 of whom 61.6 percent came from countries of the European Union and the remainder from other countries. Data from Slovakia’s Central Office for Labour, Social Affairs and Family and the Tax Directorate indicate that 18,247 foreigners had employment contracts and 10,590 were self-employed or had their own business here. Foreigners represented 1.23 percent of all employees in Slovakia. Foreign employees from EU countries came mostly from Romania (2,935), the Czech Republic (2,830) and Poland (1,969). From non-EU countries, foreign employees mostly came from Ukraine (967), the Republic of Korea (751) and Serbia (345). One of every three foreigners employed in Slovakia worked in Bratislava while Trnava, Galanta, Nitra, Košice, and Žilina also had significant numbers of foreign employees.
Employing a foreigner
Employment of a foreign national in Slovakia is influenced by the person’s citizenship and usually requires several permits. These conditions are stipulated by Act No. 404/2011 Coll. on the Residence of Foreigners and Act No. 5/2004 Coll. on Employment Services. EU nationals do not need further permits in order to work in Slovakia. The employer of an EU national need only inform the competent Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family about the beginning and the termination of such employment within seven working days, by means of a so-called Information Card. If the intended stay in Slovakia exceeds a period of three months, the EU national has the obligation to register his or her residence with the Alien Police Department.
Foreigners who have been granted permanent residence in Slovakia, as well as those granted asylum, can work in Slovakia under the same conditions as Slovak citizens without any limitations or additional permits. Citizens of non-EU countries may be granted temporary residence for various purposes, each of which determines the possibility of employment in a different manner.
The largest numbers of foreigners with temporary residence in Slovakia are those who have residence granted for the purpose of employment. During their entire stay, they must have a job and a valid work permit; otherwise their temporary residence will be cancelled. The work permit is always bound to a single, specific employer. If a person wants to change employers, they must request a new work permit in advance and can change jobs only after the new work permit is issued.
The entire process of getting legally registered in Slovakia can last up to four months for non-EU nationals, provided that they have already found an employer willing to hire them, i.e. 30 days to obtain the work permit and 90 days to get the temporary residency permit for the purpose of employment. Foreigners can start working only after the temporary residence has been granted; submitting an application for temporary residence does not entitle a foreigner to reside or start working in Slovakia.
Foreigners with temporary residence granted for the purpose of business may run their business as authorised representatives of a trade company or as sole traders, but are not allowed to work as employees.
Foreigners who have temporary residence for the purpose of study can work without the need for a work permit up to a maximum of 10 hours per week or the corresponding number of days in a month or year.
A foreigner who was granted temporary residence as a person holding the status of a Slovak living abroad can work without any work permit and without any additional limitations.
When hiring third country nationals, the employer must inform the appropriate Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in writing about the start, delay of commencement, as well as termination of employment, within seven working days at the latest. The employer is also obliged to report in writing the termination of a foreigner’s employment to the Alien Police Department within three working days.
Job search assistance
Foreigners may get basic counselling regarding available vacancies from the Office Labour, Social Affairs and Family according to their place of residence in Slovakia. EU citizens can also get help from the EURES network, which provides information about job possibilities and duties when entering the labour market, living and working conditions in the EU/EEA member states, registration procedures, taxes, social and health insurance and other employment matters.
Foreigners who were granted international protection, i.e. asylum seekers, asylum holders or persons with supplementary protection often receive labour counselling from non-profit organisations.
Third country nationals holding permanent, temporary, or so-called tolerated residence in Slovakia can seek assistance from the IOM Migration Information Centre (MIC). The MIC offers labour counselling, including support with CV preparation, orientation in the Slovak labour market, job search, developing cooperation with employers or recruitment companies and supports education of foreigners in order to integrate them in the Slovak labour market.
Foreigners can receive a financial contribution from the MIC to complete their education or retraining course. In addition to labour counselling, the MIC provides third country nationals with comprehensive legal and social counselling in areas such as residence, legal deadlines, changing residency type, reuniting family, marriage, health insurance or business. Employers may also contact the MIC with questions about legal requirements for employing foreigners or when seeking a particular kind of employee. All services provided by the MIC for third country nationals are free of charge.
Basic advice when seeking work
Before coming to Slovakia a person should assemble as much information as possible about the labour market – the unemployment rate, positions in demand, language requirements, job offers in various regions and potential job positions that correspond with one’s qualifications and experience. It is helpful to master the basics of the Slovak language so that you can more easily take the first steps in Slovakia and communicate with potential employers.
After arriving in Slovakia, send your concise and accurate CV with your previous employment and job expectations to potential employers. Apply for job positions that correspond with your qualifications. Look for opportunities to continue your education if you have higher ambitions. As soon as possible after your arrival in Slovakia send out your CV and regularly monitor the labour market. Your first job position may not correspond with your qualifications and previous job experience but it may help you to become familiar with Slovakia’s work environment.
Tips for third country nationals who want to work in Slovakia
1. Verify, preferably before your arrival in Slovakia, whether a work permit and temporary residence for the purpose of work are required in your case. The need to hold these permits is very individual and depends on your country of origin, type of work you plan to perform, type of residence and its duration, and other facts.
2. Verify which documents you will need when applying for a work permit and temporary residence.
3. Verify whether the job you want to take up is a regulated profession that requires special qualifications. If so, you must have your qualification obtained outside Slovakia recognised by the Ministry of Education.
4. You must find an employer willing to employ you. The potential employer must provide a written promise to eploy you, i.e. a job offer.
5. Then you must apply for a work permit at the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family, based on the geographical location of your future job.
6. Subsequently, you must request a temporary residence for the purpose of employment.
7. You may begin working after obtaining the temporary residence for the purpose of employment. This means you may take up the job on the first day of validity of your residence the earliest. You may only perform the type of work in the place of work and with the employer as indicated in your work permit.
Contact information for the IOM Migration Information Centre: +421 0850 211 478; e-mail: email@example.com, www.mic.iom.sk. n
The Migration Information Centre to Support Integration of Migrants in Slovakia (PHASE IV) is co-financed by the European Union from the European Fund for Integration of Third Country Nationals, Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows.
For more information about the Slovak labour market, HR sector and career issues in Slovakia please see our Career & Employment Guide.