Illustration photo – Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka at a press conference in Prague after the government meeting, February 15, 2023.
Prague – The Czech Republic se plans to open its benefits system to refugees from January. They will then stop receiving the support they have now. The benefit system is also to be simplified and digitized. Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) said this at a press conference today. Refugees with a protection visa can receive a humanitarian benefit. Its amount and terms of payment are regulated by another amendment to the “lex Ukraine” law, which was approved by the House of Representatives today. According to the draft, the state should provide humanitarian support until the end of March next year.
“I would like for us to be able to have our standard system by January 1, 2024, which will be able to provide a form of help and support to people from Ukraine as well, so that we do not have a two-track system and have the same rules and the same administrative procedure. We strongly expect that that we will prepare our system for modification in order to simplify it more,” said Jurečka. According to him, thanks to the simplification and digitization of applications and the handling process, the labor offices should manage the agenda.
Labor offices are facing a long-term onslaught. They are criticized for delaying the processing and payment of benefits. Jurečka dismissed the general director of the office in mid-February, he was not satisfied with the solution to the problems.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began last year on February 24. Since then, the Ministry of the Interior has granted visas for temporary protection to 490,700 refugees. Most of them are women and children. According to data from the Ministry of Labour, labor offices paid out 100,800 humanitarian benefits in January, spending 714.3 million crowns on them. In total, from March last year to the end of January this year, expenses amounted to 9.4 billion crowns.
If people meet the specified conditions, they can receive social support or material hardship benefits from the Czech system. The first group includes housing allowances, child allowances, foster care benefits, parental, maternity and funeral benefits. In material need, a living allowance, housing allowance and extraordinary immediate assistance are provided. The state also pays replacement alimony, a care allowance, benefits for the disabled or rewards for foster parents. If people pay contributions, they can receive sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay or nursing pay.