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How The Coronavirus Crisis Is Affecting Recruitment And Employment In The Czech Republic

The whole world is now moving online. Home office is no longer a perk of the job, but for many has now become a psychological challenge. The Czech Ministry of Labor expects a possible 5% rise in unemployment due to the coronavirus outbreak. The southern European economies had been struggling with high unemployment long before the coronavirus emergency. So how is the recruiting process working now, and who is still hiring? Will coronavirus lead to even more people moving around Europe for work than ever before? Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.

Czech Rep., Apr 6 (BD) – “Recruitment is currently partially subdued, but if it is still going on, it is mainly online, as is the case at our company,” said Jana Kohoutová of CzechInvest. Job search website Jobspin.cz announced that the advertising of jobs at international employers decreased slightly in the first few days after the state of emergency came into effect. Angelo Casadei of Jobspin said: “Now that our clients, typically large international companies, have managed to transfer their operations online and move their employees to work from home, they are starting to think about what will happen next, when the quarantine is over. Many are waiting for the measures to loosen, especially for the borders to open, before fully restarting their international recruitment procedures.”

Who Is Hiring at the Time of Coronavirus?

Many customers who have only ever been shopping in person before have recently been venturing into the world of online shopping for the first time. This means that more staff are needed to handle the increased demand for products and services sold online. Powered by a rise in turnover, an increased demand for new employees has been reported in logistics and related IT and call center services (such as food delivery companies), production and manufacturing of essential goods (like medicine and medical supplies), book sales, and educational websites. According to news website Logistika.ihned.cz, the number of parcels delivered has increased by up to 90% since the beginning of March, and Amazon alone is now looking for 100,000 new staff for warehouse operations and delivery. Online grocery shop Košík.cz has announced that their sales are even higher than before Christmas, the time when many people place large online food orders to prepare for the Christmas holidays.

Business is continuing as usual in IT recruitment. Photo: Stock image / Freepik.

“Companies from various industries – especially manufacturing, logistics, retail and call centers – are approaching us with extreme demand for part-time workers on temporary contracts,” said Jiří Halbrštát of ManpowerGroup, a recruitment agency, though he added that: “New hiring for administrative positions and the general recruitment of new staff is now mostly suspended.” However, business is continuing as usual in IT recruitment, according to Manpower.

To meet the urgent need for new employees in supermarkets and other places where it is necessary to handle food, the process of taking on new staff has been significantly accelerated by removing the requirement to have a so-called “food card” issued by the Hygiene Authority. 

“We are looking for tens of reinforcements, in the form of new colleagues and temporary workers, to help us in this situation. We greatly appreciate that the government has temporarily eased the rules for recruiting new staff and temporary workers,” said Tomáš Kubík, spokesman for Penny’s, speaking to Aktualne.cz.

“Home office” is no longer a perk of the job. Many international corporations have implemented crisis plans allowing large numbers of their employees to work from home. On the other hand, for many businesses working remotely is not an option due to the nature of their operation, typically companies in manufacturing or production.

Recruitment From Abroad On Hold

As the borders of many countries in Europe close to individuals, recruiting from abroad has ceased for the moment. “Recruitment from abroad has stopped for all types of positions, which is a significant loss for many international companies,” said Halbrštát.

“Many recruiters retain the CVs of prospective candidates for future job openings.”

Many companies are looking for ways to tap into Czech and locally-resident expat talent pools, and are continuing to advertise new vacancies. Many recruiters retain the CVs of prospective candidates for future job openings. Jana Kohoutová of CzechInvest gave a nice example of a creative way of finding jobs for foreign employees in the Czech Republic, via their “aftercare service” program. “We succeeded in arranging the successful transfer of approximately 100 foreign staff from a company in North Bohemia operating in the automotive industry (interior design – sewing) to the sewing machines of a smaller textile company that is now sewing face masks.

For international recruiting, companies are fully resorting to virtual tools these days, advertising and interviewing candidates online, and are waiting to take on their new employees in the next few months.

Casadei said that many companies are critically dependent on foreign employees and are not expecting this to change because of the coronavirus outbreak. “On the other hand, it is possible that once the crisis and short-term decrease in employment here is over, the international demand for jobs in the Czech Republic will even increase. Imagine the possible influx of employees from those southern European and other economies which have had problems and high unemployment rates even before the coronavirus outbreak,” he added.

Long-term Unemployment To Rise, Mass Layoffs Not Expected in the Short Term

Mass layoffs are not currently expected, as most companies believe they will resume operations within two months,” said Halbrštát in March. Dismissal is a very expensive process for employers, because of severance pay and notice periods.

Despite all the economic measures announced, however, the long-term economic prognosis is of an overall decrease in performance in both the global and local economies, possibly accompanied by a worldwide increase in unemployment.

Dismissal is a very expensive process for employers, because of severance pay and notice periods. Photo: Stock image / Freepik.

The Czech Ministry of Labor anticipates a possible 5% increase in unemployment this year due to the outbreak, according to its latest report for employers on the emergency measures. As an average of estimates given to Bloomberg by various analysts, unemployment in the Czech Republic rose by 0.6% between February and March, according to economist Lukáš Kovanda, who added that this is only the beginning.

Before the economic slowdown, unemployment stood at 2% in the Czech Republic, 3% in Germany, 4% in the UK (2019), 4% in Romania, 8% in France, 10% in Italy, 14% in Spain, and 16% in Greece, according to February 2020 figures from Eurostat:

Prepared by Katerina Kukrechtova

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