“Demographics and family policy are not just an ideological issue, but also an economic issue, and are also of determining importance with relation to international competitiveness”, State Secretary for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák said at a professional forum entitled ‘Work and Family’ organised by the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The Ministry of Human Capacities’ State Secretary said the Government is working on enabling the work-family balance to prevail as much as possible, and this is being facilitated by the Job Protection Actin Plan, the Childcare Fee Extra (GYED Extra) scheme, nursery school development programmes, the provision of part-time jobs for the parents of small children, and the Childcare Fee for grandparents that will be introduced in January.

On the subject of women’s employment, Ms. Novák stressed that the country still has significant reserves within this field. “The rate of employment among women who are raising children aged 3-6 is surprisingly high at 75.3 percent, but only 15.4 percent of women with children under the age of three are working”, the State Secretary said.

According to Ms. Novák, the Government is not aiming to increase the rate of employment of the latter, but it is evident that there is huge potential among these women, and with the proliferation of flexible working hours they too would receive more opportunities.

The State Secretary said creating the conditions for atypical work is one of the major tasks for the future, adding that in her opinion this, however, also requires a change in culture so that employers also trust in employees that they will work diligently from home.

The State Secretary also spoke about the fact that there are currently few workplace nurseries in Hungary, with just 11 operating with a total of 75 places, despite the fact that in contrast to classical kindergartens it is much easier to establish and operate such daycare centres. “In the interests of increasing their numbers, next year the Government will be increasing their funding significantly: while this year the state is providing 180 thousand forints-a-year per child to these nurseries, next year the workplace nurseries of non-profit and public sector organisations will be receiving 700 thousand forints in funding, while for-profit enterprises will be receiving 350 thousand”, Ms. Novák said.

President of the Chamber András Sávos spoke about the fact that a shortage of professionals poses a major challenge to enterprises, but there are a significant number of people who would like to work, but who cannot find a job because of family commitments. “Both the Government and the Chamber of Industry would like to find a solution to this problem, in the interests of which in January the Chamber, its 42 member enterprises and the Ministry of Human Capacities concluded a cooperation agreement that provides a framework for finding concrete solutions to these difficulties”, the President said, adding that five new organisations had joined agreement at Friday’s forum.

Mr. Sávos said one of the Chamber’s goals is to collect and promote good examples that enterprises have already developed, and to identify the hindering factors that make it difficult for companies and prospective employees to find each other.

The Chamber’s executive officer Gabriel A Brennauer reported on the most important questions raised by the Chamber’s members within the field of work and family, explaining that in their opinion home work should be regulated more clearly in view of the fact that there is currently no differentiation between classical teleworking and temporary work performed from home.

Another proposal is that occupational doctors should also be able to write prescriptions and refer employees to certain specialists for further medical examinations.