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Recourse to a labour dispute committee

A labour dispute committee is an extrajudicial authority which adjudicates disputes arising from employment relationships, i.e. the relationships between employees and employers, impartially, efficiently, purposefully and fairly. If disagreements have arisen between the parties to an employment relationship, which the parties cannot solve independently, they may have recourse to a labour dispute committee for a resolution of the conflict. The labour dispute committee helps reconcile the parties through conciliation proceedings, helps the parties to the dispute find a compromise and helps conclude a settlement agreement.
The labour dispute committee resolves individual and collective labour disputes.

Individual labour dispute

  • A labour dispute which has arisen between an employee and an employer registered in Estonia due to an employment relationship and preparation for an employment relationship.
  • A labour dispute which has arisen between an employee and an employer acting through its Estonian branch due to an employment relationship and preparation for an employment relationship.
  • A labour dispute which has arisen between an employee and an employer registered as a non-resident employer in Estonia due to an employment relationship and preparation for an employment relationship.
  • A labour dispute which has arisen between an employee posted in Estonia and their employer in the meaning of Section 7 of the Working Conditions of Employees Posted to Estonia Act.

Collective labour dispute

  • A collective labour dispute is a conflict which has arisen from the performance of a collective agreement.

Labour dispute committees do not resolve a dispute over compensation for damage caused by damage to health, a bodily injury or death due to an occupational accident or occupational disease. Such disputes must be resolved at a county court.

Labour dispute committee do not resolve disputes caused by other contracts (such as contracts under the law of obligations). Disputes caused by other than employment contracts must be resolved at a county court.

EXCEPTION. Recourse to a labour dispute committee is possible in the case of a contract under the law of obligations (such as an authorisation agreement or a contract for services) only if it is an employment contract in substance. In such instances, a petition can be filed with a labour dispute committee to establish the fact of an employment relationship and other claims arising from an employment contract (such as minimum wages, remuneration for overtime, etc.).

Petitions filed with a labour dispute committee are reviewed within 45 calendar days of receipt. For objective reasons, the term for reviewing a petition can be extended (for example, a request for extension of a time limit given to the parties or a request for the postponement of a session).

Withdrawing a petition.

Sometimes a labour dispute is resolved before a hearing takes place or a decision enters into force, whether because the petitioner has changed their mind, the other party is complying with the petitioner’s claims or for other reasons. If a claim ceases to exist or the petitioner has changed their mind, the petitioner must submit an application to the labour dispute committee, either to withdraw the labour dispute petition or waive their claim.

Withdrawing a petition before the proceedings

If you have submitted a petition to the labour dispute committee, but the cause of the dispute has been resolved, you should submit an application to the labour dispute committee as soon as possible before the start of proceedings to withdraw the petition. Withdrawal application form: 

Withdrawal_of_petition_before_proceedings | 247.43 KB | pdf

If your application for withdrawal reaches the labour dispute committee before the committee has started processing the petition, the labour dispute committee will not proceed with the petition and the other party will not know that you have turned to the labour dispute committee. If, for whatever reason, it later transpires that the other party has not fulfilled their obligations or has done so in part, you can take the same claim to court. You will no longer have recourse to the labour dispute committee with the same claim.

Withdrawing a petition during the proceedings

If a petition is already being processed, perhaps there has even been a hearing and a decision has been made, but you need to withdraw the petition, you can do so before the decision enters into force, ie no later than within 30 (thirty) days of the decision. The withdrawal application form can be found here: 

Withdrawal_of_petition | 250.98 KB | pdf

NOTE! Once a petition is already being processed, you need the consent of the other party to withdraw it. To that end, the labour dispute committee forwards the petitioner’s withdrawal application to the other party and asks for their consent. If the other party does not submit a reasoned objection within 10 (ten) calendar days of the date the application was delivered, they are deemed to have given their consent. If, for whatever reason, should it transpire that the other party has not fulfilled their obligations or has done so in part, you can take the same claim to court. You will no longer have recourse to the labour dispute committee with the same claim. 

Waiving a claim 

Waiving a claim has different consequences than withdrawing a petition. You can waive your claim until substantive consideration of the labour dispute matter, which will take place at the hearing. The other party’s consent is not required to waive a claim. However, it should be noted that if a claim is waived, the petitioner will no longer have recourse to the labour dispute committee or the court with the same claim.

Waiver_of_claim | 246.58 KB | pdf

Last updated: 12.02.2024