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Unemployment in Lithuania: Evading work at all costs

Profesinio persikvalifikavimo programos gali padėti išsikapstyti iš duobės, o gal net pakeisti gyvenimą iš esmės.
Šarūno Mažeikos/BFL nuotr. / There are 244 thousand unemployed registered with Lithuanian public employment agencies.
Šaltinis: 15min

The unemployed in Lithuania make up over 11 percent of total workforce and while many of them are desperately looking for work, there are some who would rather live comfortably on social benefits. One unemployed Austrian, in order to be recognized unsuitable for work, chopped his leg off. Lithuanians have not gone so far yet, but they, too, come up with ingenious excuses to avoid employment.

According to regulations, if a person registers with his or her branch of employment agency but fails to find a job according to his or her training and health condition, the person has a right to receive social benefits. They lose them, if they reject a job offer or fail to show up for an interview.

Some unemployed people, who want to retain their benefits but avoid work, usually play the health card or claim that job offers do not fit their training.

“If a person believes that workload in an offered position is unsuitable, but employment agency's experts cannot verify the circumstances, they must present documents, issued by relevant institutions, certifying what kind of job is suitable for them,” says Inga Balnanosienė, labour resources manager at Kaunas Territorial Employment Agency.

Alfonsas Stravinskas, labour resources manager at Vilnius office, notes that people, who try not to give away their reluctance to work at a public employment agency, often show their true intentions during a job interview.

“An unemployed person brings employer's reference, saying that the position is unsuitable due to lack of qualification, working hours, duties, or invented health problems. Sometimes, however, employers note that the person simply refused the offer. In such cases, we are entitled to apply the law and cancel or suspend the person's registration at the employment agency.”

Regiment of simulators

Labour resources manager at Šiauliai Territorial Employment Agency, Karolina Kleinotaitė-Gorodničenko, notes that the most common reason given for turning down a job offer is health, especially problems that cannot be substantiated by official medical certificates. Some complain that if they took up a job, there would be no one to stay at home with kids. Oftentimes, the unemployed are unhappy about the pay, since benefits and heating compensations are more generous. Some take up casual short-term jobs, work their own land, or receive black-market salaries (the phenomenon is called the “envelope pay” in Lithuanian).

There are no specific employment areas that people are particularly reluctant to do. Some of them simply lack motivation to do any job at all. Over the first two months of the year, 7,744 people either declined job offers or refused to take part in training programs – and were de-registered from public employment agencies.

Evading work

Zita Naruševičienė, labour resources manager at Marijampolė Territorial Employment Agency, have heard many complaints from employers that people sent to them plead not being suitable for work.

Some show up at a job interview drunk or hungover. Sometimes people bring their small kids and say that they would love to work, but kids fall ill too often. Others start off with a question: “How much will that pay?” Yet others, after being given an offer, suddenly fall ill and take sickness leaves.

There was one woman at a job interview, who said frankly: “I can't do anything. It says [in the CV] that I used to work as a secretary, but in fact I didn't have to do anything of the kind. Besides, I am not very good with computers.” The “secretary” made sure to make ten spelling mistakes in three words.

Another man came to the employment agency and said: “I want to work very much, but could I start in a month? I feel pain here and here, perhaps they'll recognize me as disabled.”

Kristina Jablonskienė, human resources manager at Topo technika in Klaipėda, says she has encountered cases where a person sends in his or her CV, comes to an interview, but it becomes obvious from the very start that he or she is not interested in the position. “At the end of an interview, such person usually tells me he only sent a CV and showed up because he needs to prove to the employment agency that he's been looking for job and attending interviews,” she says.

Top Clean has been looking for employees through Vilnius Employment Agency. HR manager Gitana Masiliauskienė notes: “It happens that people come from the agency just to “check in” and do not really want to work. Besides, some obviously are employed illegally or get income from other sources. We often offer part-time jobs, so for many unemployed people working doesn't pay off. And those who receive compensation for heating, do not want even full-time positions.”

Briedžiukas, a company that has started looking for staff through public employment agencies very recently, has already had applicants who suddenly disappear after an interview, turn off their phones or unexpectedly remember that they have to leave and can only start in a month.

Playing silly

Three years ago, Greta, from Panevėžys, graduated from the Lithuanian University of Educology and signed up with an employment agency. The girl says she is particularly reluctant to work as a school teacher, yet was constantly sent to interview for exactly that position. In order not to get any offers, Greta tried playing dumber than she is, said openly she did not like kids, behaved impudently during interviews or would not answer questions at all.

Artūras from Vilnius, who now has a well-paid job, has also had some experience with a public employment agency, where he had to sign up in order not to be forced to pay his health insurance, 72 litas per month. “There is an unwritten rule at the agency – you must say you do not have enough work experience, etc., because you can't say that you find the pay unacceptable – in their view, an unemployed person might as well work for free,” the young man says.

Marius Daugelavičius, psychologist, comments:

“A person often adopts a victim's point of view: I can't do anything myself, I'm not good enough, it is not working for me. That person thus brushes off responsibility for his life – it's you who must take care of me, give me a job, make my life better. Some even develop a phobia of responsibility and duties, since most position require that. The person thinks: If I do something wrong, it's going to go worse! But there are people who are the opposite of this – they set high standards not for themselves, but for the job they are looking for: how much they are supposed to earn, what conditions it must satisfy, etc. If an offer is not up to this, they turn it down. Or they  persist in doing only certain types of jobs and they wouldn't go into compromise. They are also afraid to change their usual routine. Even if a person is unhappy with his life, changing it is sometimes more scary than leaving it as it is.”


On 29 March 2012, there were 244 thousand unemployed registered with Lithuanian public employment agencies. That accounts for 11.8 percent of total workforce. Compared to March 2011, the number went down by 62.3 thousand, yet it is still 30 thousand above that of last autumn.

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