Yesterday, the government approved an amendment to the Act on Social Services, which comes with significant regulation for nurseries and work performance of caregivers for children under three years. The Better Regulation Center (BRC) joined in the commenting procedure of this material and raised several key comments against it.
The result of negotiations with representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic are several compromises that soften the new legislation and remove shortcomings, which in practice could result in a large number of problems, not only for the owners of the nurseries, but also for caregivers of children who could essentially end up without of a job.
BRC managed to push through a proposal that will result in saving jobs for nannies who already have a higher age and who are unlikely to obtain relevant education and thus meet the new qualification requirements. After the acceptance of the BRC’s substantive comment, their current practice in the area of child care will be accepted.
The original proposal posed a risk that a caregiver of children, who is obliged to have completed at least a secondary education with graduation, can replace and thus leave number of older people who are dedicated to child care without a job. The amendment proposed by the BRC and later accepted by the Ministry of Labour will enable older nannies to earn some money alongside a pension and it thus protect those who are a few years before retirement and have a low chance to be employed. These people raised several children, have experience in child care, yet had the original proposal remained in place, they could not have met the new requirements.
BRC from the beginning strongly disagreed with the original proposals that a maximum number of 4 children may be allocated to one nursery employee and that at least 80% of all nursery employees are professionals (specialists). Such stringent set of conditions would force the nursery owners to supplement staff or even worse, reduce the capacity of nurseries. Both of these cases would present huge problems for parents – either place a child into a new nursery, or pay extra. Eventually the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic accepted BRC’s objection and increased the number of children allocated to one nursery employee from 4 to 5 and the proportion of professional staff was slightly decreased to 75%.
BRC is convinced that the proposal of the Act could handle a few more improvements, e.g. removing condition of having a second level university degree for a person who wants to start a nursery or for her responsible manager. This condition is unreasonably strict and there is no guarantee that the person will be a good manager of such a facility. Submitter's argument was that all other social facilities require such a qualification for the responsible manager but that contradicts the Act, which states something else. For instance, it is sufficient for a manager of a shelter for homeless, hospice, along with a person who will provide assistance in personal care for a child or service for reconciliation of family and working life, to obtain full secondary general education.
By adopting the new regulation, considerable expenses for nursery owners and caregivers of children will occur. For instance barriers removal and other space requirements (hundreds of euros), for completing an accredited carer course (about 250 €) or mandatory registration (66 €). In case of the omission fine up to 35 000 € is being risked. Also in this regard, the Ministry could still reconsider the existing alternative proposals in the next phase of the legislative process. We should not overlook the fact that private nurseries or caregivers of children substitute for a long time the government's role in provision and performance of this service.
Therefore, entrepreneurs in the area of child care, among whom are also many small self-employers, should get as much help as possible from the state and not overly burdensome regulation. Entrepreneurs welcomed the need for regulation but the final form is for many of them directly devastating.