Recruiting in the Czech Republic During The Coronavirus Outbreak

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The whole world is moving its activities online. Some industries are experiencing existential threats, others are thriving. But how are the measures taken by the Czech government affecting the recruitment process in private companies? Title photo: Stock image / Freepik.

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 orders to prepare food supplies for the Christmas holidays.

“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 are now mostly suspended.” However, in IT recruitment, business is continuing as usual, according to Manpower.

To satisfy 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.

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. 

Companies are looking for ways to tap into Czech and locally-resident expat talent pools, and are continuing to advertise new job vacancies. Many recruiters retain the CVs of prospective candidates for future openings.

For international recruiting, many 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. 

Mass Short-Term Layoffs Not Expected, Though Many Businesses Are Crying For Help

Unfortunately, most businesses are reporting serious or even existential impacts on their commercial performance. Among those worst affected are tourism, exports, entertainment, hospitality, transport, real estate, and the automobile industry (mainly due to weaker demand). “Mass layoffs are not currently expected, as most companies believe they will resume operations within two months,” said Halbrštát. Dismissal is a very expensive process for employers, because of the severance pay and notice periods. At the same time, recruiters need to deal with internal emergency measures and do not have time to recruit new employees.

Last week, groups representing employers, including the Czech Confederation of Industry, Czech Chamber of Commerce, and the Confederation of Employers’ and Entrepreneurs’ Associations, called for further measures from the Czech government, known as Kurzarbeit – when employees have shorter working hours and the state pays the rest of their full-time working hours.

The government has already approved a targeted employment support program. The full or partial reimbursement allowance for employers will apply in cases where employees have been quarantined. “These employees will receive 60% of their wages and we will pay this contribution to the companies,” explained Prime Minister Babiš. If a business has been ordered to close or reduce operations due to the state of emergency, employees will be paid 100% percent of their wages and the state will reimburse employers for 80% of their costs. 

“Home office” is the buzzword these days. Many international corporations have prepared crisis plans which allow large numbers of their employees to work from home. On the other hand, remote working is not an option for many businesses due to the nature of their operation, typically companies in manufacturing or production.

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

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