Lay assessors are appointed by representative organisations of employees and employers, i.e. federations of occupational and professional associations of employees and central federations of employers. The manner in which central federations elect and appoint their representatives is decided individually by each organisation based on their internal procedures.
Lay assessors only participate in hearing cases during sessions. In other words, they participate in instances when the chairman of the labour dispute committee has decided to hear a matter in ordinary proceedings and has set a session for the hearing with a committee of three members. Lay assessors in a labour dispute committee do not ordinarily work for the Labour Inspectorate. They only participate in the work of a committee when hearing specific labour disputes and are present specifically at the time of the session. They are not subordinate to the Minister of Social Affairs or the Director General of the Labour Inspectorate.
To be a lay assessor, a person must:
- be a citizen of the Republic of Estonia with active legal capacity;
- be resident in Estonia;
- be proficient in Estonian at B2 level;
- be of a moral character suitable for the activities of a lay assessor;
- not have been convicted of a criminal offence;
- not be bankrupt;
- be in a state of health suitable for the activities of a lay assessor.
Federations of occupational and professional associations of employees and central federations of employers will present a list, corresponding to the number specified by the Labour Inspectorate, of possible persons to be appointed as lay assessors, who have confirmed in writing their compliance with the requirements provided for in Section 8 of the Labour Dispute Resolution Act. A person who is registered with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund may be a lay assessor in the labour dispute committee. Being a lay assessor of a labour dispute committee does not deprive the person of the right to be registered as unemployed.
The Labour Inspectorate may demand at any given time that the list be supplemented or altered if, for example, it becomes apparent that the persons on the list do not actually meet the requirements or have repeatedly refused to participate in the work of a committee or it becomes apparent that certain regions lack sufficient numbers of lay assessors for organising the work of a committee.
The chairman of the labour dispute committee selects and includes lay assessors based on the list submitted by the representative organisations.
Rights and obligations of lay assessors
- A member of a labour dispute committee who has been appointed a lay assessor will be informed of a session within a reasonable period of time before the session and will be given access to the procedural documents in the ITI information system of the Labour Inspectorate to familiarise themselves with the dispute. Access is granted only by using ID-card solutions, in order to guarantee secure processing of personal data.
- If a member of a labour dispute committee who has been appointed as lay assessor is unable to attend a session for a good reason, he or she must promptly inform the chairman of the labour dispute committee. In that case, the chairman of the labour dispute committee will select a new lay assessor from the list. If lay assessors are unable to attend a session, they should inform the committee at least 24 hours before the session. Otherwise, the session will have to be postponed if the committee cannot find a new committee member.
- The employer of a committee member appointed as a lay assessor – that is the organisation or company for whom the committee member ordinarily works – will release that committee member from the performance of their duties for the duration of their attendance at a session. At the request of the person appointed as lay assessor, the chairman of the labour dispute committee will issue a confirmation of that person’s attendance at the session.
- The employer of a committee member who is an appointed lay assessor (the organisation or company for whom the committee member ordinarily works) is not obligated to maintain or pay remuneration for the duration of the attendance at a session. However, this is possible if the parties agree on this or the employer so desires.
- After being appointed as a lay assessor, i.e. before attending the first session, the lay assessor is asked to confirm compliance with the legal requirements, the absence of any conflict of interests when participating in the hearing of the case and adherence to the confidentiality requirements.
- Persons appointed to the labour dispute committee must immediately withdraw from labour dispute proceedings if they have acted as a conciliator in the same case or if they cannot reasonably remain impartial in resolving the labour dispute or if one of the circumstances referred to in Section 23 of the Code of Civil Procedure applies.
- The duties of a lay assessor include, inter alia, hearing a petition for the removal of the chairman of the labour dispute committee; in other words, petitions for the removal of the chairman of the labour dispute committee will be heard by the members of the labour dispute committee who have been appointed as lay assessors. The petition for removal must be granted if at least one lay assessor is in favour. If the lay assessors do not find in favour of the petition filed to remove the chairman of the labour dispute committee, the petitioner may apply in writing to the Director General of the Labour Inspectorate, through the labour dispute committee adjudicating the labour dispute, within 3 working days of learning of the decision to reject the petition.
What compensation are lay assessors entitled to?
- A lay assessor will be paid remuneration for the time spent attending a labour dispute committee session. This remuneration comes from the budget of the Labour Inspectorate. The remuneration for each hour of attendance at a session is equal to the minimum hourly wage established under subsection 29(5) of the Employment Contracts Act. The remuneration of a lay assessor is not considered to be a salary; only income tax and, if necessary, funded pension contributions are withheld from the remuneration. The time spent participating in the session is calculated to the nearest half hour.
- In addition to the time spent attending a session, half an hour of remunerated working time per labour dispute is calculated for the lay assessor to review the case file and for other related administrative issues.
- The remuneration is calculated based on an aggregated order, submitted to the State Shared Service Centre on a form approved by a directive; it includes the number of hours spent by lay assessors participating in the sessions of the committee and the time spent reviewing the case files for a dispute during a calendar month.
- The aggregate order is based on the calculation table for the hours spent by lay assessors participating in the sessions, which is kept by the secretary of a labour dispute committee and is completed every month.
- The date of the session, names of the lay assessors and duration of their participation in the sessions (in hours) is entered in the calculation table. It also includes the number of dispute matters heard during a session, the number of files that the lay assessors reviewed for each labour dispute and the preparation time for reviewing each file, allowing half an hour per file.
- The title of the aggregate order includes the name of the labour dispute committee, the year and the calendar month as the calculation period for the number of hours that the lay assessors participated in the committee sessions.
- A bank account number is provided as a 20-digit IBAN; for a first payment to a lay assessor, column 4 is marked with an ‘x’; information about having joined a funded pension pillar must also be provided.
- If there is any change in the information regarding a lay assessor who has participated in the sessions several times (name, bank account number), the name of the lay assessor is marked with an asterisk (*). If the name of a lay assessor changes (for example, due to marriage), the information on the new name is submitted on the aggregate order after the lay assessor has confirmed that the information has also been changed with the bank.
- Lay assessors are entitled to apply for a reimbursement of their travel expenses from the Labour Inspectorate, based on the following principles.
- If a labour dispute committee session takes place outside the contractual place of employment of a lay assessor or outside the place of residence of an unemployed lay assessor, the lay assessor will be compensated for expenses related to attending a session to the extent of and pursuant to the procedure provided for an employee under Section 13(3)(1) and (2) of the Income Tax Act.
- Lay assessors will be reimbursed for the cost of a public transport (except taxi) ticket when travelling to the place where a labour dispute committee session takes place and back to their permanent place of work or residence. Proof of travel expenses must be provided. Taxi expenses are reimbursed for travelling to the session only within the limits of the local municipality where the session is held if using other types of public transport is not possible in that particular municipality.
- To be reimbursed for travel expenses, the lay assessor must send a copy of the ticket by email to the secretary/desk officer of the labour dispute committee.
- If it is not possible for lay assessors to travel to the labour dispute committee session by public transport, the expenses of using a personal vehicle are reimbursed based on driving records, pursuant to Section 13(3)(2) of the Income Tax Act (EUR 0.23/km).
- The lay assessor needs to enter the readings of the odometer at the start and end of the trip and information about the time and place of the session on the driving records form in order to be reimbursed.
- In order to be reimbursed for expenses, the lay assessor will need to send the driving records, together with a copy of the technical passport of the vehicle, by email to the secretary/desk officer of the labour dispute committee. If any parking expenses are incurred due to attending a session, the lay assessor should also add proof of that parking expense.
Lay assessors can obtain all the necessary forms and guidelines for submitting expense documents from the secretary/desk officer of the labour dispute committee.
Video lectures for lay assessors:
Last updated: 06.07.2022