Open Access

The Covid-19 Pandemic as a Driver of More Responsive Social Procedures: between Theory and Practices in Slovenia


Social and other administrative procedures are gaining importance because of the increasing complexity of administrative relationships brought about by the Covid‐19 pandemic, digitalisation, and other societal changes. When exercising social rights, procedural elements should be seen – both at the level of regulation and enforcement of the rules – as factors contributing to the welfare state, the rule of law, and good administration, and not as an excuse for a bureaucratic attitude. In view of the multifunctionality of social procedures, including their casual‐functional role in social relationships and their potential for a critical value‐based evaluation of the current regulation, the rationale for this study is to assess the impact of the Covid‐19 pandemic on special administrative procedures conducted by the 16 social work centres (SWCs) in Slovenia. A special emphasis is placed on the informational calculation of social assistance payments, such as child benefits, kindergarten subsidies or state scholarships ‐by far the most numerous procedures involving social rights in Slovenia, with over one million cases annually. Drawing upon a normative analysis, available statistics, semi‐structured interviews with SWCs managers and surveys among employees, the findings reveal that the response of SWCs to the crisis has improved. However, largely due to the lack of coordination on the part of the line ministry, the simplifications introduced mainly benefit the public administration rather than particularly vulnerable parties to the procedure. Consequently, there is a need to pay greater attention to providing the parties with adequate protection of their constitutional rights and other elements of good public governance.

Points for Practitioners

In addition to analysing the direct practical implications of the legislative, organisational, and IT adaptations to the Covid‐19 pandemic, the article provides a broader study of the multifunctionality of social procedures and their role in ensuring citizens’ fundamental rights in times of socially unstable conditions. The findings are thus directly applicable for practitioners deciding on social procedures in the broader European setting, and for policymakers and legislators in the respective fields. As the conclusions are grounded on a strong methodological framework, this should contribute to advocating the much‐needed change in ensuring the protection of the basic constitutional rights in social procedures in times of crisis in Central Europe and beyond.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Political Science, Local Government and Administration