For years, the Barevný svět Day Center in Třebíč has been helping disabled people. In addition to a residential home and sheltered housing, it also runs two cafés where mentally disabled people work. However, due to a minor error in the payment of wages, the organization has lost a CZK 1.2 million subsidy from the state.
According to officials, it was unacceptable that the organization had paid a total of CZK 27 950 to its employees last autumn as additional wages in cash, rather than by bank transfer or bank transfer. This subsidy covered the salaries of assistants and disabled people because the cafés couldn’t survive without them.
Barevný svět has been operating in the Třebíč region since 2005. It has also been running sheltered workplaces for the last eight years: two cafés and a textile workshop with a shop.
Since 2013, the Labour Office has regularly signed an agreement with the organization on recognition as an employer in the private labor market, thanks to which Barevný svět has been able to earn subsidies to partially cover its wages employees with disabilities and their work assistants.
Last autumn, at the rise of the coronavirus wave, both cafes were forced to close. Clients and café staff were quarantined or sick, and the organization found that some people with disabilities were eligible for additional wage payments for October, November, and December. This was usually several hundred crowns per month. This was the point where the organization made an unforgivable mistake, at least according to the authorities. It had paid several thousand crowns in cash.
“Even though most of the wages were paid to these employees without cash, the Labour Office assessed this as a violation of the conditions laid down by law. Since the beginning of July, we have been without the CZK 1.2 million subsidies that covered the wages of the assistants and the disabled, because the cafés are unable to earn their salaries, “Petra Tučková, director of Barevný Svět, said. As a result, the ministry did not support the organization, leaving 20 places for disabled people in jeopardy.
“They learn basic work skills and habits here. At the same time, this is a specific group that no one in the labor market knows how to work with. And unfortunately, what we have been building for many years and what gives many of our employees a sense of purpose in life is in danger of disappearing, “Tučková described.
The organization has repeatedly appealed to Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová (ČSSD), but no avail. The ministry has not answered the request to soften the law’s harshness, nor has it granted extraordinary support, even though local politicians have stood up for Barevný svět.
But the organization’s leadership did not quit and rushed to secure money through fundraisers or donations from companies. “Donors, towns, and businesses have supported us, so we believe we won’t have to close in the end. We will be able to reapply for funding in January. Unfortunately, this situation is taking away energy and money that could have been used to help the disabled further, “the director summarized.
“Considering that we have not stolen or embezzled anything, we find the procedure that is being applied to us disproportionately harsh. Moreover, we had constant communication with the authorities by telephone for every step we took. Perhaps our case will at least make some of the responsible people think, “Tučková commented.