Planned abolition of work permit quota system
Currently, residence and work permits can be issued to third-country nationals either based on an annual quota or outside of the annual quota. On an annual basis, the Croatian government decides on the number of residence and work permits for activities in which employing third-country nationals is allowed (i.e. annual quota system). In addition to this system, residence and work permits can be issued outside of the annual quota, but only in cases specifically prescribed by the law.
According to the new Foreigners Act proposal (the law itself is expected to come into force in the course of 2020) this annual quota system would be fully abolished. In future, residence and work permits would be granted to third-country nationals on the basis of a so-called labour market test conducted by the Croatian Employment Service. In some occupations, import of third-country workforce would be fully liberalised; again at the discretion of the Croatian Employment Service. This basically means that, under the new law, an employer from Croatia seeking to hire a third-country (non-EU) employee will have to contact the Croatian Employment Service regional office to verify whether or not there are any unemployed individuals on their books who meet the employer’s requirements. If so, the labour market test carried out by the Croatian Employment Service for employment of a third-country employee would most probably be negative.
Student contracts may become available to third-country nationals
According to the proposed amendments to the Act on Performance of Student Work (amendments expected to come into force in the first half of 2020), third-country students would also be able to work in Croatia on the basis of a student contract.
Current legislation defines a student as a Croatian national or an EU national with residence in Croatia (i.e. third-country nationals are not included in the definition). This means that third-country students cannot currently work based on student contracts.
Potential changes to Sunday work regime
An ongoing initiative by certain labour unions and civil associations seeks to limit the number of working Sundays in a calendar year, by enacting appropriate amendments to the Labour Act. According to our knowledge, at the time of writing, a formal proposal for this law has still not been put into the public consultations procedure, but it could be expected in the course of 2020.
Currently the applicable Labour Act does not include limits on work on Sundays, except for an obligation on the employer to pay employees who work on Sundays an increased salary.