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Global employment briefing: Estonia, October 2017

  • Estonia
  • Employment law


New Employment Dispute Resolution Act passed

The new Employment Dispute Resolution Act will come into force on 1 January 2018 and introduces litigation changes in employment dispute committees.

Such committees are governmental bodies consisting of employees’ representatives, employers’ representatives and officials of the Labour Inspectorate specialising in solving employment disputes. Resolutions of these committees have equal legal value to court judgements unless the resolution is contested at court within a month as of reception.

Proceedings in these committees are rapid (usually two-three months) and without state fees which makes these committee a first option for solving employment disputes. In 2016, employment committees dealt with 2671 employment cases whereas courts heard only 446. At the same time there were a number of legislative obstacles for proceedings at the committees which will now be eliminated. Among the changes introduced by the new Act these committees will be able to:

  • Solve collective labour disputes (only individual disputes were solved earlier)
  • Handle claims without limitation (current limit is set to 10 000 euros)
  • Handle claims in written proceeding without having a hearing in case of claims amounting to less than 6400 euros (currently all claims are reviewed at hearing regardless of amount)
  • Start conciliation proceedings
  • Suspend proceedings
  • Approve settlements (currently claims are waived at the committee after settlement is reached but such agreement is not enforceable without initiating new litigation at court)
  • Demand filing of evidence
  • Declare proceedings as closed in the interests of reaching settlement or for protection of business secrets, personal data or interests of persons meeting certain criteria

Draft Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act

Currently the law allows only four types of contractual penalties for employees:

  • Confidentiality breach
  • Breaking competition restriction
  • Refusal to commence employment
  • Leaving of employment without authorization

A new draft law introduces the possibility of a new penalty for breaching occupational health and safety regulations.