Temporary suspension of provisions on forced retirement

By decision no. UI-16 / 21-11 of 18 February 2021, the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended the implementation of the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs of the Employment Relationships Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 21/13, as amended; hereinafter ZDR- 1) and Article 156.a of the Public Employees Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No. 63/07; hereinafter ZJU), which refer to the regulation of retirement of older employees with fulfilled conditions for retirement due to old age.

The Constitutional Court assessed the legality of Articles 21 and 22 of the Act Determining Intervention Measures to Assist in Mitigating the Consequences of the Second Wave of COVID-19 Epidemic (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 203/20; hereinafter ZIUPOPDVE), which determined a new economic reason for termination of an employment contract in the private and public sectors. These are provisions that allow the employer to terminate an employee’s employment contract for economic reasons without justifying the reasons with a notice period of 60 days, if the employee meets the conditions for acquiring the right to retire due to old age.

As stated in the decision of the Constitutional Court, the termination of the employment contract terminates the employment relationship and thus the rights of employees arising from the employment relationship. Termination of an employment contract for older employees, who are particularly difficult to employ, would not only mean the loss of employment, but could also mean the end of their professional careers. In the opinion of the Constitutional Court, the consequences that would arise from the further implementation of a possible unconstitutional statutory regulation would be greater than the consequences that would arise if its implementation were delayed until the final decision of the Constitutional Court. Until its final decision, the Constitutional Court also withheld the effect of already served terminations of employment contracts, which were issued in accordance with the new regulation. The latter entered into force with the seventh anti-corona law, i.e., 31 December 2020, and the 60-day notice period based on the disputed regulation in the case of already served terminations of employment contracts would expire at the beginning of March.

With this provision, the Constitutional Court changed its previous position that the termination of an employment contract due to the fulfilment of conditions for acquiring the right to retire due to old age cannot endanger the rights of employees, as social security is guaranteed at the end of their professional career.

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