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Late Paychecks in Eastern Europe, Former Soviet States

Late Paychecks in Eastern Europe, Former Soviet States

by Neli Esipova and Julie Ray

Story Highlights

  • More than one in five part-time workers (22%) have had payment delayed
  • One in 10 workers in EU member states have waited to be paid

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Thousands of Hungarians this week are protesting new labor laws that allow companies to demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year from their workers and to delay paying them for up to three years. While it's difficult to imagine waiting three years to be paid, it is not wholly uncommon for workers in Eastern Europe and former Soviet states to have their paychecks delayed.

One in seven workers (14%) in the 29 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2017 said there were times in the past month that their employers delayed paying them money for the work they had done. Part-time workers were more likely than full-time employees to be dealing with this: 22% of part-time workers said this had happened to them, compared with 14% of full-time workers.

Employer Delayed Paying for Work Done in the Past Month
All countries EU member states in Eastern Europe Former Soviet states Non-EU members in Eastern Europe
% % % %
Work status
All workers 14 11 16 16
Part-time workers 22 18 23 33
Full-time workers 14 10 15 15
Male 17 13 19 18
Female 12 8 13 14
Primary education or less 20 18 21 24
Secondary education 16 13 18 17
College degree or higher 10 5 12 12
Based on surveys in 29 countries
Gallup World Poll, 2017

Looking at this by region, delayed paychecks are more common for workers in former Soviet states (16%) and non-European Union member states (16%), but the current situation in Hungary demonstrates how workers in EU member states are not exempt. One in 10 workers in EU countries in Eastern Europe (11%) say this has happened to them in the past month.

At the same time, similar groups in each of these regions are more affected by this than others. For example, in every region, part-time workers are more likely than full-time workers to have had their paychecks delayed. However, this is even more pronounced in non-EU-member states, where one in three part-time workers (33%) have had their payments held.

Men in each of these regions -- regardless of whether they are full or part time -- are affected disproportionately compared with women. Overall, 17% of male workers say this has happened to them, versus 12% of female workers.

Education does provide some buffer in all of these regions and situations. Workers with college degrees or higher education -- who may be more likely to be in higher-earning, white-collar jobs -- are at least half as likely as those with primary education or less to have had their paychecks delayed.

Bottom Line

Delayed wages are an issue for a number of workers in Eastern European countries and former Soviet states, but particularly for those who are working part time and the typical breadwinners in the region -- men. These are also the two groups that can likely least afford it.

In Hungary's case, the delay is being backed by the government as a way to solve the country's labor shortage problems and was signed into law on Thursday. Not all employees and employers will be required to do this -- and it would take effect only if both parties agree through a collective bargaining agreement. But in the end, it could be the country's workers who will truly pay.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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