Entry into force and enforcement of a decision of a labour dispute committee

A decision of a labour dispute committee has the same legal force as a court judgment. Once labour dispute committee decisions enter into force, they are binding on the parties.

Decision of a labour dispute committee

A labour dispute committee will make a decision if, in the opinion of the committee, both parties have had ample opportunity to put forward all their arguments and evidence and the case is ready for a final decision. When the dispute is heard at a session, the labour dispute committee, consisting of three members, will prepare the operative part of the decision on the day the dispute is heard. A member of the committee who maintains a minority position has the right to a dissenting opinion, which will be annexed to the decision. The decision of the three-member labour dispute committee will be drawn up in writing by the chairman. In written proceedings, the chairman of the labour dispute committee will make the decision alone.

The decision must be based on the law and must be reasoned; it will rely solely on the evidence gathered in the case.

The decision will be announced to the parties within 10 working days of the session taking place. The parties are informed of the precise time and manner of the announcement of the decision at the end of the session in ordinary proceedings or by a ruling in written proceedings.

Service of the decision

The labour dispute committee will inform the parties of the manner in which the decision of the labour dispute committee will be served. The decision of the labour dispute committee can be served electronically by email, by post, or through the Ametlikud Teadaanded publication.

A party must acknowledge receipt of the decision of the labour dispute committee (for example, if a decision is emailed to a party, the latter must reply to the secretary/desk officer of the labour dispute committee who sent the decision that they have received it). If a party does not acknowledge receipt of the decision by email, the decision is sent to the party by post. If a party cannot be served the decision by ordinary post, the secretary/desk officer of the labour dispute committee will publish the operative part of the decision in the Ametlikud Teadaanded. Upon publication of the decision in the Ametlikud Teadaanded, the party is considered to have been served the decision within 15 calendar days of the publication of the operative part of the decision.

Entry into force of a decision

The decision of the labour dispute committee will enter into force after 30 days have passed since the decision was served if neither party has filed an action with a court to contest the decision. The deadline is counted from the day after the date of receiving the decision. For example, if a party was served the decision on 1 April 2022, then the 30-day deadline must be counted from 2 April 2022. If a party files an action with a court within 30 days of having been served the decision for the adjudication of the same labour dispute, the decision will not enter into force. If the decision of the labour dispute committee is contested in court only partially, the undisputed part of the decision of the labour dispute committee will enter into force.

In order to confirm the entry into force of a decision of the labour dispute committee, the chairman or secretary of the committee will add a notation on entry into force to the decision at the request of a party or an administrative authority concerned (such as the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund or the Tax and Customs Board). The labour dispute committee will add a notation on entry into force to a decision once they have verified in the information system of the courts that court proceedings have not been launched for the same case. In order to add a notation on entry into force, at least 31 calendar days must have passed from both parties being served the decision. A notation on entry into force may be issued electronically by the chairman or secretary/desk officer of a labour dispute committee, with a digital signature. In order to receive a notation on entry into force, a request to that effect must be made to the labour dispute committee that issued the decision.

Enforcement and immediate enforcement of a decision

Once a decision has taken effect, it becomes binding on the parties.

At the request of a party, a labour dispute committee may declare a decision ordering the payment of wages to be subject to immediate enforcement to the extent necessary for the employee but not exceeding 2 months’ remuneration. The request can be made at a labour dispute committee session before the substance of the case is heard. In such a case, the decision of the labour dispute committee regarding the claim for wages will take effect when the decision is served, not 30 calendar days after receipt of the decision.

Applying to an enforcement agent

If a party fails to comply with a decision of a labour dispute committee or a settlement approved by a ruling of the chairman of the labour dispute committee, it is possible to apply to an enforcement agent for enforcement proceedings. To do so, the decision of the labour dispute committee that has entered into force (including decisions with a notation on entry into force) or decision that must be enforced immediately or ruling approving a settlement must be sent to the enforcement agent.

For more information on applying to an enforcement agent, please visit the website of the Chamber of Bailiffs and Trustees in Bankruptcy: (https://kpkoda.ee/).

Going to court

If the parties disagree with the decision of the labour dispute committee, they may apply to the courts for a review of the same labour dispute within 30 calendar days of receipt of the decision of the labour dispute committee. In court, the decision of the labour dispute committee is not disputed; instead, the claims of the employee and/or the employer are reviewed from the start. The form of applying to the courts is by a statement of claim, not an appeal against the decision of a labour dispute committee. If the parties file a claim for a court to hear the same labour dispute, the decision of the labour dispute committee will not enter into force.

For more information about applying to the courts, please visit the homepage of the Estonian Courts (https://www.kohus.ee/).

Last updated: 06.07.2022