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Ombudsman Mounts Challenge Against Welfare Law

20.05.2015 14:45
Category: work and news

The Human Rights Ombudsman has initiated a constitutional review of several provisions of a 2010 act which tightened eligibility criteria for welfare and introduced means testing.

The challenged provisions of the exercise of rights to public funds act are "an inadmissible encroachment of the rights of the most vulnerable groups," Toni Dolčič, the deputy ombudsman, told the press on Wednesday.

One of the provisions challenged determines that a child's alimony is classified as family income for the purposes of calculation of benefits, up to a level of about 190 euros per month.

The Ombudsman claims this runs afoul of case law, as the Constitutional Court had already found a previous law with a similar solution unconstitutional in 2006.

The country's top court will also examine the conformity with the Constitution of the requirement that two unmarried persons who have a child are automatically considered a couple and have to prove otherwise if they are not.

Lan Vošnjak, an adviser to the ombudsman, said reversed burden of evidence ought to be an exception in the law. The current requirement is a disproportionate measure, he said.

A challenge has also been filed against a provision determining that sole traders are automatically considered as having made 75% of gross minimum wage prior to submitting their first annual report, notwithstanding their actual income.

The Ombudsman has asked the court to stay the challenged provisions, which are already causing "irreparable damage" to those affected.

As Dolčič put it, these provisions "assume that all those asking for welfare are potential cheats."

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