Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 22/04/22


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Beneficiaries of international protection have the right to work in the Republic of Croatia, without a residence and work permit or certificate of registration of work.[1] Both asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection have access to the labour market, without distinction.

However, access to rights and their exercise in the practical life of each beneficiary is challenging. The main obstacle is still the language barrier and the language courses, which is a precondition for successful integration and accessing the labour market.

In order to carry out the quality integration of asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection in Croatian society, the Ministry of Science and Education, in cooperation with the Sector for Schengen Coordination and European Union funds of the Ministry of Interior, prepared the project “Integration of refugees and foreigners under subsidiary protection in Croatian society, education and preparation for inclusion in the labour market “. The program aims to provide 280 hours of language courses to refugees and foreigners under subsidiary protection.[2]

The project is targeting persons who were granted asylum  and subsidiary protection who wish to engage in a course of learning the Croatian language, history and culture, or  who require the translation of diplomas or certificates for continuation of education or inclusion into the labour market, or who wish to continue primary or secondary education.  The project activities are free of charge for beneficiaries and it is funded by the AMIF – the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. [3] According to data provided by the Ministry of Science and Education, Croatian language courses were organised in Zagreb, Slavonski Brod, Sisak and Karlovac for 84 persons and 12 diplomas were translated during 2020.[4]

The Croatian Red Cross reported that Croatian language courses for adults are currently provided in Zagreb, while in other cities they are only carried out if there are more than 5 people who have registered for the course.[5] According to CRC, the Croatian language course is not adapted as all beginners are in the same group despite having different educational levels. For beneficiaries of international protection who speak English, the course is acceptable and effective, but those who do not understand English, often lose motivation and no longer come to the course. An additional reason for the low participation in language course is that beneficiaries found employment while waiting for the course to start. Women who do not work rarely attend the course, usually because they are taking care for children. In addition, most women have not been employed in their country of origin before and do not project themselves in a working environment in Croatia either.

CRC developed a network of employers with whom they cooperate and who are willing to recruit beneficiaries of international protection. During 2021, 16 beneficiaries of international protection managed to get employed with help of CRC, out of which 3 were women.

CRC further drafted a leaflet for employers on the employment of applicants for international protection and beneficiaries of international protection in cooperation with UNHCR. The leaflet was presented in December 2021 at the round table “Economic Empowerment of Refugees and Opportunities for Employment “. Once finalised, the leaflet will be available online in Croatian and English.

Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) also reported persisting problems with Croatian language courses as they are not implemented continuously nor tailored to the specific group for which they are intended to.[6] In addition, courses last only limited number of hours which is not enough for beneficiaries to properly learn the language and be able to use it in their everyday life. The current language course which is held by the Public Open University Zagreb is not certified, which is an additional obstacle for those beneficiaries who need a certificate to prove the level of the Croatian language to institutions. Furthermore, this language course is organised exclusively for beginner groups, which does not always correspond to the level of knowledge of certain persons as they have a sound knowledge of the basis of the Croatian language and need more advanced courses, especially due to further regulation of their status. Similar problems with Croatian language courses were also reported by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma  (RCT).[7]

Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) reported that, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, some issues aggravated inter alia because beneficiaries are getting fired more often due to reduced business activities of their employers, which adds on to the other problems that  already exist – i.e. underpaid jobs, precarious job conditions, problematic and often short-term employment contracts.[8]

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) also reported problems related to Croatian language courses. [9] From April to October 2021, JRS held two unofficial Croatian language courses at beginner level. In addition to language course, participants were provided some trainings on how to prepare CVs, job applications and individual plans. According to JRS, the Croatian language courses always start from the beginner level, which does not always correspond to the level of knowledge of certain persons.[10]

As mentioned in Housing, asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection have the right to accommodation if they do not hold financial resources or possessions of significant value, for no longer than 2 years from the day of the delivery of the decision approving international protection.[11] It is expected that within this period, they would learn the language and find a job to support themselves. However in practice, many of them after 2 years still do not know the Croatian language and accordingly have problems finding appropriate employment.

According to information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, their employees and volunteers provide support to all beneficiaries of international protection during this integration period.

In relation to employment, they provide support in terms of: finding employment, establishing contacts and organising meetings with (potential) employers; as well as coordinating with relevant institutions and the Croatian Employment Service (CES).

Many other NGOs such as JRS, the Centre for Peace Studies, the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, Are you Syrious (AYS) also provide assistance during integration. The Integration Centre “SOL”, which is run by JRS and was opened in 2018, provides support and guidance to individuals and families in the Republic of Croatia, who have been granted international protection, in their integration process.[12]

UNHCR ‘s Participatory Assessment conducted in summer 2020 showed that beneficiaries of international protection often face multiple challenges while attempting to successfully integrate into local labour markets, such as language barriers, difficulties in recognition of previously acquired skills, and limited social and professional networks in the area in which they are looking for jobs [13]

In the course of 2021, AYS provided information to persons under international protection on their right to work as well as assistance in job searching. According to AYS, beneficiaries of international protection with an insufficient knowledge of the Croatian language and women face more difficulties in finding employment. The problem was also observed in relation to single mothers because they were forced to refuse jobs due to inadequate working arrangements that do not correspond to their care for children. AYS pointed out that the Croatian Employment Service often registers persons under international protection as a person without a high school diploma, since they often cannot obtain documentation for nostrification, which makes it much more difficult for them to access the labour market through the employment service.

In 2021, the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma  (RCT) focused its activities on socio-economic inclusion, especially of women who were  granted international protection.[14] RCT also held workshops on socio-cultural orientation and social inclusion for 25 women who were granted international protection. Women also received employment assistance. In addition, the RCT was selected to provide group and individual psychosocial support to persons granted international protection who did a paid internship at IKEA, in a project implemented by IKEA in cooperation with UNHCR in several countries in Southeast Europe. RCT also contributed to this project by finding and motivating potential interns. The programme included 15 beneficieries of whom 13 completed it, and  9 persons  received an extension of their employment contract with IKEA.

In November, 2021, Civil Rights Project (CRP) Sisak held a workshop in Karlovac entitled Labour Law with beneficiaries of international protection who are located in the Karlovac area on the topic of labor and social rights and the institutes needed in employment.[15]

During 2021, the Centre for Cultural Dialogue (CCD) team communicated on a daily basis with beneficiaries of international protection and supported them through preparation for job interviews, assisted in resume writing and interview techniques to help them develop a viable job search plan.[16]  In May 2021, CCD was part of a joint initiative in the programme of employment of beneficiaries granted international protection in the IKEA in Zagreb. In cooperation with UNHCR, CCD mediated in finding adequate staff among beneficiaries of international protection, and  15 of them completed an internship programme that  lasted three months. Upon termination of the internship programme, some  of them were offered a job at IKEA.

The Croatian Employment Service (CES) is responsible for the implementation of measures in the field of employment of foreigners, with particular emphasis on asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection. According to the Law on the Labour Market asylee and foreigner under subsidiary protection, as well as their family members may apply to the CES. According to this Law, they are equal with Croatian citizens in terms of rights and obligations.

When applying for inclusion  in the register of unemployed persons, CES assigns employment counsellors to beneficiaries of international protection. They provide assistance and information about available jobs, how to compile resumes and applications to employers, and gives them the opportunity to use measures an active policy of employment and the exercise of other rights. They also inform them about their obligations as unemployed persons.[17]

According to CES, 88 asylees (of which 41 women), 8 foreigners under subsidiary protection (of which 3 women), 7 members of families of persons that were granted international protection (of which 6 women)  and 2 applicants for international protection (of which 1 woman) were registered in their registry as unemployed persons at the end of 2021.[18] According to the data of the CES from January 1 until December 2021, 40 asylees, 4 persons under subsidiary protection, 1 member of families of persons under international protection and 1 applicant for international protection were provided individual counselling at CES and a total of 68 individual counselling for these users were conducted, while 6 asylees were included in active employment policy measures. The majority of persons registered were from Syria (40), Afghanistan (17), Iraq (13), Turkey (8) and Iran (8).

Similarly to previous years, CES highlighted the lack of knowledge of Croatian and/or English as well as a low motivation to learn the language and to be engaged in other programmes that can raise the chances of gaining employment, as a major obstacles to the integration of beneficiaries of protection Despite the fact that 2021 was still marked by the COVID 19 pandemic, CES recorded the successful employment of several persons under international protection.




[1]  Article 68(1) LITP.

[2]  European Commission and EMN, Ad hod query in 2019 – Early language support, requested on 29 January 2019, available at:

[3]  Ministry of Science and Education: Information on Croatian language courses and translation of diplomas and certificates for persons with asylum status or persons under subsidiary protection, available at:

[4] Ministry of Science and Education: Annual Work Report for 2020, available at:

[5] Information provided by CRC, 4 January 2022.

[6]  Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 10 January 2022.

[7]   Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 14 January 2022.

[8]  Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 10 January 2022.

[9]  Information provided by JRS, 15 February 2022.

[10]   Information provided by JRS, 15 February 2022.

[11]   Article 67(4) LITP.

[12]  JRS, ‘Refuge Integration Centre „SOL“ opened’ , 2018, available at:

[13]  UNHCR, 2020 Participatory Assessment Croatia, Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on refugee integration in Croatia, March 2021, available at:

[14] Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 14 January 2022.

[15]  Information provided by the Civil Rights Project (CRP) Sisak, 10 January 2022.

[16]  Information provided by Centre for Cultural Dialogue, 13 January 2022

[17] Croatian Association of Social Workers: Handbook- The role of social welfare in the process of integration of persons with international protection, available at:

[18]  Information provided by the Croatian Employment Service, 11 January 2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation