Overview of policy, strategy and programmes in relation to the occupational health and safety of older workers - Czech Republic

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Initiatives from government/government-affiliated institutions

Occupational health and safety and active ageing

In 2006, the government established an advisory body, the Government Council for Senior Citizens and Population Ageing. Representatives of different ministries, members of trade unions, NGOs and employers are appointed as Council members. The Council’s main aim is to:

  • promote both healthy and active ageing and anti-discriminatory policies;
  • increase older people’s employability and their involvement in society; and
  • improve the condition of older people’s health.

The Council can initiate and propose legislative and non-legislative measures to address important issues related to older persons and the ageing of the population. It also monitors documents from the European Union and international organisations that are relevant for issues related to ageing and older persons.

The Council prepared the National Programme for the Preparation to Ageing for the years 2008-2012 and the National Programme for Support to Active Ageing for the years 2013-2017. Currently, these are the two conceptual documents defining strategies and social policy in the areas of health and safety and older workers in the Czech Republic.

The National Programme for Support to Active Ageing for the years 2013-2017[1] is a strategic document of the Czech government relating to issues of an ageing workforce. It is based on a holistic approach to ageing and refers to the idea of positive ageing as a lifelong process including all generations. It stresses the need to pay attention to the specific characteristics of people in different phases of their life (life-course approach). The document defines the participation of older people in the labour market, life-long learning and stresses the importance of prioritising the processes of improving one’s health and quality of life. It highlights health promotion in every phase of life as a prerequisite to positive ageing - however, health promotion is conceptualised mainly in terms of personal life-style and no specific attention is paid to Workplace Health Promotion.

The National Programme points out the heterogeneity of the senior population, especially with respect to the impact of gender and health condition on the life-experience and inequalities in old age. However, no special attention is paid to the impact of different working conditions on health inequalities in old age. Participation of older people in the labour market is defined as one of the main priorities. The document stresses the need to develop flexible work conditions to support the employment of older workers. The need to further develop the idea of ‘age management strategies’ in Czech companies is mentioned among the ‘specific aims’ of the Czech government with respect to the ageing workforce. The strategy includes quantitative targets.

The National Action Plan for Health and Safety at Work for the years 2013-2014[2] does not take into consideration age as a factor relevant to OSH thus an agenda for OSH and ageing workers is still missing. There is no specific strategy work programme for State Labour Inspection. The Inspection refers mainly to the National Action Plan for Health and Safety at Work as one of their reference points.

In the context of the European year of Active Ageing, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the ‘Business for society’ platform created the Awards for companies employing age management and OSH good practices[3] (Award for a Companies Sensitive to all Generations, Award to Senior-Friendly Company). In particular the ‘Award to senior-friendly company’ -part of the larger project ‘Responsible Company’- promoting good practices in Czech companies, is given to companies which carry out projects supporting intergenerational cooperation among employees (e.g. mentoring), re-employment of senior employees and age-management practices. A list of awarded companies is published online along with a detailed description of their projects. The award represents one of the few possibilities for promoting good practices in Czech companies. The aim of the award is to support such good practices and to motivate companies to further improve their working conditions. According to the web page of the initiative, the number of companies registered for the award is rising every year. Škoda Auto was awarded as the senior-friendly company in 2012. In parallel, the Czech government is sponsoring a number of pilot projects aimed at raising awareness and disseminating information about age management with HR policies in companies[4].

Employment

The programme ‘Jobs of social importance’[5] represents a subsidised employment programme which also aims to stimulate employers to hire older workers. It is based on an agreement between the Labour Office and employers who hire long-term unemployed older workers. In such cases, the Labour Office may pay a financial benefit for the creation of such jobs. The programme was introduced as a part of Active Politics of Employment and is followed by other tools (such as programmes of requalification) for groups of higher risk of unemployment (i.e. people with disabilities, older workers). The programme is frequently used. For example in the first semester of 2012, 5,592 jobs of social importance were created and 8,227 workers were supported by the programme (MPSV 2012)[6].

Public Health

The document Long-term Programme for the improvement of the Health Status of the Population in Czech Republic – Health for All in the 21st Century, which implements in the Czech Republic the WHO strategy ‘Health for All in the 21st Century’ was adopted by the government in October 2002. The document refers, in particular, to people with disabilities and chronically-ill persons. The Health 21 document formulates two targets that are relevant for the older population and sustainable working lives:

  • Target 5 on “Healthy Ageing” focuses on the health status of people over 65
  • Target 13 on “Setting for Health” requires companies to commit to the promotion of safer and healthier working conditions for all employees, including through addressing the needs of the older worker and promoting Workplace Health Promotion.

One of the objectives for the implementation of Health 21 is intersectoral cooperation of different policy areas to promote health and prevent illnesses[7].

Initiatives from social partners

Czech trade unions have paid increased attention to the issues of an ageing workforce in recent years. They have carried out, mainly with the support of the European Social Fund, several projects targeting the needs of older workers. In 2012, the Czech trade unions also elaborated an age management guide for employers (Zaměstnanec a věk, aneb age management na pracovišti)[8]. Representatives of trade unions, NGOs and employers’ organisations also participate in the Government Council for Senior Citizens and Population Ageing.

Initiatives from other organisations

The Association of Adult Education Institutions in the Czech Republic has developed in 2012 a guide entitled Age management to work with 50+workers – methodological guide (Age management pro práci s cílovou skupinou 50+. Metodická příručka), as part of the project ‘Age management strategies in the Czech Republic’ funded by the European Social Fund[9].

It provides an overview of the situation of older workers in the Czech Republic, discusses the risk factors (also in relation to health) that have to be taken into account with respect to age and work ability/working conditions and examples of best practices. The guidance is targeted especially to labour office counsellors and HR personnel and contains practical educational activities.

References

  1. MPSV, Národní strategie podporující pozitivní stárnutí pro období let 2013 až 2017 (National Programme for Support to Active Ageing for the years 2013-2017), 2012. Available at: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/14540/III_vlada__Akcni_plan_staruti_.pdf (Accessed December 2014)
  2. Národní akční program bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci pro období 2013-2014 (National Action Plan for Health and Safety at Work for years 2013 – 2014) 2012, Available at: http://www.bozpinfo.cz/priloha/nap-bozp-2013-2014
  3. Website of the project: http://www.topodpovednafirma.cz/firma-vstricna-seniorum-2013.html (Accessed December 2014)
  4. Krynska, E., Szukalski, P., Active ageing measures in selected European countries – Final Report, University of Lodz, 2013, p214
  5. MPSV (Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs): Public service portal: http://portal.mpsv.cz/sz/zamest/dotace/apz
  6. http://portal.mpsv.cz/sz/politikazamest/trh_prace/rok2012p1/anal2012p1.pdf (Accessed December 2014)
  7. Boukal, C., Meggeneder, O., Healthy Work in an Ageing Europe – A European Collection of Measures for Promoting the Health of Ageing Employees at the Workplace, 5th initiative of the ENWHP, p68
  8. Available at http://www.cmkos.cz/data/articles/down_3531.pdf (Accessed December 2014)
  9. AVID, Age management pro práci s cílovou skupinou 50+. Metodická příručka, 2012. Available at: http://www.aivd.cz/sites/default/files/metodicka_prirucka_-_web.pdf (Accessed October 2014)

Contributors

Palmer