Resolution of labour disputes under the Labour Dispute Resolution Act
The new Labour Dispute Resolution Act regulating the resolution of labour disputes at labour dispute committees entered into force on 1 January 2018. Labour disputes initiated before the entry of this act into force will be resolved under the old Individual Labour Dispute Resolution Act. Estonian legislation stipulates that the working language used for the resolution of labour disputes is Estonian. Petitions and evidence must also be presented to the labour dispute committees in Estonian. If the petition or documents submitted are in a foreign language, the labour dispute committee will have the right to request their translation into Estonian. In case any party to the proceedings does not speak Estonian and they have no representative representing them in the proceedings, the court will seek to involve a translator in the proceedings upon the petition of such party or on its own initiative.
A petition may be filed with a labour dispute committee either personally or through a representative. This representation is regulated by the General Part of the Civil Code Act, meaning that the right of representation may either be granted by a transaction (authorisation) or it may arise from law (right of representation arising from law). The chair of the labour dispute committee will verify the validity of the right of representation on the representative’s part; in case of the absence of such a right, the person in question will not be permitted to partake in the proceedings as a representative. At any stage of the proceedings, a party to the proceedings can request the verification of the validity of right of representation of the representative of the other party. In case of the involvement of a lawyer, they are presumed to have a valid right of representation.
Please note: The labour dispute committee follows the Code of Civil Procedure in serving procedural documents. Section 317 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives the labour dispute committee the right to serve procedural documents by public service. The labour dispute committee has the right to publish an excerpt from a document subject to public service in the publication Ametlikud Teadaanded.
The right to public service will be used by the labour dispute committee only if one of the parties to the labour dispute fails to confirm the receipt of the documents served by the labour dispute committee either by e-mail or ordinary mail.
Submitting a petition to a labour dispute committee
Employees can submit petitions to the labour dispute committee of their place of residence or work or the place of residence or official location of their employer. This choice is made by the employee. An employer can submit a petition to the labour dispute committee of the employee’s place of residence or work. Petitions for the resolution of collective labour disputes are submitted to the labour dispute committee of the place of residence or official location of the employer or to the labour dispute committee of the place of location of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation.
Alternatively, the parties can agree in advance in the region where the labour dispute is to be resolved, recording the agreement in a form reproducible in writing (e.g. by e-mail). The parties are not, however, allowed to select a specific chair of labour dispute committee to resolve their dispute. Decisions regarding the assignment of specific disputes are made based on the territorial jurisdictions and internal organisation of work of the labour dispute committees.
Estonian booklet on Resolution of a labour dispute at a labour dispute committee
Petitions to labour dispute committees can be filed either in physical or electronic form.
Petitions may be filed with a labour dispute committee either personally or through a representative. The petition along with any annexes can be submitted either on paper with a handwritten signature, or electronically. If the petition is submitted electronically to the e-mail address of the labour dispute committee, the document must be signed digitally and have all the necessary documents attached. The petition can bear the signature of a representative on the condition that it is accompanied by a document certifying the right of representation, i.e. an authorisation.
First and foremost, the petition must include:
- the jurisdiction of the labour dispute, i.e. the territory where resolution to the dispute is sought
- name, personal identification code or registry code, place of residence or business, and contact details (phone number, e-mail address) of the petitioner
- name, personal identification code or registry code, place of residence or business, and contact details (phone number, e-mail address) of the person the petition is filed against
- clearly expressed claim made by the petitioner; in case of a monetary claim, presented as a gross amount
- the circumstances underlying the claim
- evidence certifying the circumstances underlying the claim with clear reference to which circumstance is certified by which piece of evidence
- whether the party agrees to written proceedings or requests the matter to discussed at a hearing
- if parties have agreed to resolve a labour dispute at a specific labour dispute committee, a certification of the agreement
in case of a monetary claim, a justification of the amount of the claim is required. There is no upper or lower limit for taking the dispute to a labour dispute committee.
All unsigned petitions will be excluded from proceedings.