As many countries are now facing the new threat of the twenty-first century in the form of coronavirus, it has become clear that they were not prepared to counter it without an adequate assessment of its dangers and negative consequences for the economy and population. At the same time, first of all, citizens who lost a stable source of income as a result of the closure of enterprises and institutions, as well as those who lost their health and their loved ones due to the illness, were affected.
Our country responded to the pandemic in time and tried to arm itself with the all means of protection to support its citizens. During this difficult period, not only doctors, but also social workers were on the front line, providing the population, especially vulnerable groups, with the necessary social support.
The interview of the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine with the Minister of Employment and Labor Relations of the Republic of Uzbekistan Nozim HUSANOV is devoted to topical social issues being resolved at the state level in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Nozim Bakhtiyorovich, many of us are familiar with the main activities of the Ministry that you lead. However, an unexpected emergency — the pandemic — has had a negative impact on all aspects of our society. What significant changes have occurred in these conditions in the area of employment and labor relations? What opportunities and conditions have been created by the Ministry for the employment of citizens during the quarantine?
– You are right, an unforeseen emergency – the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed our way of life and the world as a whole. All the necessary measures were taken, in order to reduce its negative impact on the labor market, labor relations and employment of the population, comprehensive support of unemployed citizens and those who were unable to travel abroad to earn money, as well as our compatriots who temporarily lost their jobs during the quarantine.
First, during the coronavirus pandemic, there was a need to develop new regulations on labor relations. For this purpose, 2 temporary regulations have been developed based on the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PD-5969 of March 19, 2020. In particular, the orders of the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations of March 25, 2020 “On Approval of Temporary Regulations on the Procedure for Granting Annual Paid Leave for Parents of General Education Institutions and Pupils of Preschool Educational Institutions During the Suspension of Activity of Preschool Educational Institutions and Educational Institutions for the Duration of Quarantine Measures” and “On Approval of Provisions on the Temporary Transfer of Employees to Remote Working Mode, on Flexible Working Hours or at Home During the Period of Quarantine” were registered in accordance with the established procedure in the Ministry of Justice.
Second, in order to provide employment for the unemployed and those who were not able to travel abroad to earn money, as well as for citizens who returned from there, during the pandemic, we used a mechanism based on the so-called “manual management system,” thus working at the lowest levels.
The Ministry’s management organizes field employment events in the regions for unemployed, returned migrant workers and members of low-income families. To date, 167 districts and cities have been visited.
– Certain segments of the population, especially those working in the service sector, transport and public catering, faced forced unemployment due to the quarantine. What new forms of employment have been proposed and implemented by the Ministry specifically for them? How effective were they?
– According to the decision of the meeting of the Anti-crisis Commission of March 27, 2020, by the initiative of the Ministry, it was established that the remuneration of persons involved in the construction and capital repairs of infrastructure facilities, field work in agriculture and public works by employers, regardless of their form of incorporation and ownership, will be reimbursed in full (100 percent) at the expense of the Public Works Fund. In addition, a mechanism has been introduced for financing the labor payment to citizens engaged in public works every five days.
The work of labor authorities has been radically revised. This year, the number of services provided by regional employment promotion centers has increased by another 7 and reached 19.
For example, the allocation of subsidies (from 669 thousand to 6.7 million soums) to unemployed citizens for construction of a greenhouse on their croft, the purchase of seedlings and seeds, as well as irrigation equipment, registration as an entrepreneur, training in entrepreneurship and payment of an insurance policy when receiving a loan;
● subsidies in the amount of 2.2 million soums for the unemployed who are members of clothing, handicrafts, beehives, fish farming, rabbit-breeding, poultry and other agricultural establishments;
● improving the skills of employees who are hired by referral of labor authorities and providing subsidies to employers who hire the needy segments of the population.
This year, 728.3 thousand people were employed, including 617 thousand unemployed, temporarily unemployed and ones who were unable to work abroad during the coronavirus pandemic from March 19 to August 1. This is almost 1.7 times more than in the same period last year. Of 176 thousand people who have permanent jobs, 90 thousand are women and 71.3 thousand are young people. In addition, the remuneration of 419.2 thousand people involved in public works increased by 2.4 times.
It is noteworthy that during the pandemic, 9 non-traditional and non-standard types of public works were introduced, in particular, disinfection of makhallas, streets, markets and public places, guarding the roadblocks and quarantine houses, assistance to lonely elderly people, people with disabilities and those in need of care, assistance to “Charity Centers,” as well as for food trucks organized in makhallas.
In addition, 50 thousand low-income families, particularly families introduced to the “iron book,” were granted subsidies in the amount of 104.7 billion soums for the development of crofts, construction of light-weight types of greenhouses, buy seeds and seedlings and irrigation equipment. 7,3 billion soums were allocated for the employment of the low-income population and assistance in starting business, which provided employment for 6.2 thousand people.
In turn, 5.1 billion soums were allocated to 194 employers to improve the skills of 2.5 thousand employees hired according to the referral of the labor authorities, 534.4 million soums were allocated for monthly wages to 89 employers who employed 248 members of low-income families and 731.3 million soums for state registration of three thousand citizens who wanted to start business, to pay for an insurance policy when receiving a loan.
Also, 15.6 thousand unemployed, low-income and poor family members were attached to 329 cooperatives created based on Chinese experience.
– In the event of emergencies and natural disasters, the most vulnerable are primarily the elderly and children, the sick and disabled, single and large families. How is targeted social support provided to vulnerable groups of population during a severe economic downturn due to the spread of coronavirus infection? What type of cooperation is established with the Ministry of Makhalla and Family Support of the Republic of Uzbekistan?
– It is obvious that during the coronavirus pandemic, our Ministry, together with the Ministry of Makhalla and Family Support, is working to ensure social stability and effective measures of targeted support at the lower levels. First of all, we have developed a “Road map” of joint work, according to which the following main tasks were defined:
● drawing up an address list of citizens in need of employment, providing assistance to them, taking into account the capabilities of the region;