“Foreign workers will be allowed to enter Hungary only under strict conditions, and only as many workers as we need,” a state secretary of the economic development ministry said in a debate on the government’s draft concerning guest workers in parliament on Wednesday. In his introduction of the bill, Sándor Czomba said the “the proposal is not at all aimed at attracting masses of job seekers to Hungary and take opportunities away from Hungarians.” The bill is aimed to “also help retain the Hungarian workforce and create new jobs”, Czomba said. The state secretary said the number of job seekers from third countries was “not at all high” and insisted that in proportion to their labour markets, Hungary employed the fewest guest workers in comparison with the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia.
Czomba said the government was aimed to satisfy an ever growing demand for labour with Hungarian employees through “increasing the economic activity of the population” with special regard to those currently looking for employment, people younger than 25 and older than 65, the “underemployed”, as well as young mothers, adding that those groups could potentially supply 300,000 people to the labour market.
In the current, difficult economic situation a country “cannot afford to pass on investments due to a lack of labour”, Czomba said. Concerning job protection, Czomba said vacant situations would be filled primarily by Hungarians and nationals of EU countries, while job seekers from neighbouring countries, Ukraine and Serbia, would be employed only when no Hungarians had been found. If neither options are possible “only then could job seekers from third countries be employed,” he added. In the interest of protecting the domestic labour market, people from third countries can only be employed in line with certain quotas, the state secretary said. If parliament passes the bill into law, guest workers could stay in Hungary between 90 and 180 days “as long as they are actually employed”, Czomba said, adding that they would be required to have valid travel documents, accommodation, a sufficient amount of money, and that they should meet “public and national security conditions”.