Work Activity Allowance for Volunteers
Practice is ongoing, starting in 2011.
To encourage activity or maintaining motivation to work among the unemployed through volunteering, the Slovenian Government offers incentives for recipients of social assistance to become active as volunteers. Volunteers who are recipients of social assistance are entitled to additional financial help – an allowance for work activity.
Work activity allowance is defined by the Act on Social Security Benefits which regulates the right to financial social assistance, its beneficiaries, the conditions for entitlement to financial social assistance, the amount, the allocation period and the payment method, assessment procedure, repayment, financing, monitoring and data collection.
Work activity allowance works as an incentive for the transition of recipients of social transfers into the sphere of work. Being involved in the volunteer activities of local organisations allows one to gain new knowledge, new experience from different areas of work, meet people and expand one’s network. On the other hand, by volunteering one contributes to the realisation of the mission of the organisation they help and enriches them with knowledge and experience.
Work activity allowance can be obtained by first-time applicants for welfare as well as long-term recipients if they meet the conditions for obtaining a Work activity allowance.
How is the solution implemented?
Work activity allowance is financed from the state’s budget. On local level, Social Services Offices are in charge of receiving and processing applications.
To obtain the work activity allowance one must first join one of the NGOs classified as a volunteer organisation. Volunteer organisations are all registered as such in the Register of Volunteer Organisations at AJPES (Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Legal Records and Related services).
Once individuals choose an organisation where they wish to volunteer, they must enter into a written agreement on voluntary work for at least 24 hours per year.
Work activity allowance can be obtained by first-time applicants for social assistance as well as long-term recipients if they meet the conditions for obtaining a work activity allowance.
- First time applicants attach a copy of the agreement on voluntary work to their application for social assistance.
- Recipients of social assistance who just started volunteering must submit a form for reporting changes regarding the exercise of rights from public funds at their Social Services Office with a copy of the agreement on voluntary work.
Social Services Offices go through each application and decide on eligibility individually for each applicant based on eligibility conditions.
Individuals are entitled to work activity allowance every month for the validity of the decision on eligibility to receive social assistance. However, the work activity allowance is paid only for the months when voluntary work is performed.
To receive the work activity, allowance each month, recipients must submit a monthly volunteer work report to their Social Services Office to prove their activity. If the individual is granted social assistance for a period of up to 3 months, they can submit the report after the expiration of those months for the entire past period.
If the individual performed volunteer work but did not submit proof of work, they are not entitled to the work activity allowance. The same applies if the volunteer did not perform volunteer work in the month.
The amount of Work activity allowance for all recipients of social assistance, is determined by law, based on the number of volunteer hours performed. Under the law, individuals with a written agreement on the voluntary work are considered to be working for 60 to 128 hours per month, regardless of the actual umber of volunteer hours performed. Thus, those individuals are entitled to the lowest amount of work activity allowance.
In what local context has it been applied?
Work activity allowance is provided throughout the territory of the Republic of Slovenia (surface area 20 271 km2, 2.117.674 inhabitants). On local level, Social Services Offices are responsible for processing applications. The number of applications varies between municipalities depending on the unemployment rate and eligible applicants.
The Work activity allowance was first introduced in 2011 to mitigate the effects of global financial crisis. The global financial and economic crisis broke out in 2008, but it hit Slovenia with a delay – in 2009. Unemployment began to rise, soon exceeding 100.000 people. The number of employees decreased in the private sector; the young were the biggest victim of crisis. During the crisis, the number of unemployed young people doubled.
The work activity allowance was introduced to encourage activity or maintaining motivation to work among the unemployed through volunteering.
At the time cash social assistance was low and the situation of the socially vulnerable was improving with the allowance for work activity.
What difference has it made?
Since 2011 the NGOs implementing social inclusion programs which also include persons who receive and allowance for work activity based on written agreement on voluntary work report that this solution has had a tremendous impact on participants in these programs. Especially those with weak or broken social networks. Experience shows that joining the volunteering program with the activation supplement is a very good entry point where it is possible to get close to people, motivate them to start looking at their problems differently, and solve them with new courage and methods that until now they have not thought of. In most cases, already after a few months, progress can be seen in the structuring of the day, self-image, acquired skills and the expansion of the social network. Many remain our volunteers even when they no longer receive the allowance. In practice, it turned out that most volunteers of this type are permanently unemployable and volunteer work does not significantly help them with greater employability, but above all maintains social inclusion and visibly improves the quality of life. For those who are still able to get a job, the volunteer program is a temporary opportunity to do something good for themselves and society. For those who are more difficult to employ, good results were seen in inclusion in the social community, better self-esteem and in raising the sense of belonging to solidarity and charitable behaviour.
Funded from national budget, approximately 16 million € is dedicated to this on a yearly basis.
Officials in the relevant institutions for processing applications and overseeing the monthly payments of work activity allowance (e.g. social workers employed at Social Services Office). At least one person in each Social Services Office throughout the country.
At least 1 person in charge of volunteers in each NGO where work is done by the recipients (i.e. volunteer coordinator). They coordinate the work of volunteers, mentor the volunteers and sign the monthly reports that volunteers must provide for the Social Services Office to receive the work activity allowance.
Relevant law regulating the field of social assistance.
Offices and office equipment for the officials processing the applications.
Space and equipment for the volunteers who are recipients of the Work activity allowance, depending on the work they do.
Find out more
Contact person: Klara Kržišnik
Good practice was prepared by Društvo za podporo civilne družbe, Slovenia