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Amendments to better protect the rights of posted workers enter into force

On 30 July, amendments that will ensure better protection of the rights of employees posted to Estonia will enter into force. The working conditions of posted workers working in Estonia will be specified more precisely and a regulation for long-term employment will be introduced. Employers are obligated to keep the information provided on posted workers up to date.

The concept of ‘a posted worker’ is governed by Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services. A posted worker is an employee with whom a temporary agreement has been concluded to work at the territory of a member state, either to provide a service within the framework of the company’s business operations or various subsidiaries within the group, or as a temporary agency worker by an employment undertaking.

On 17 June, the Riigikogu amended the Working Conditions of Employees Posted to Estonia Act, which changed the working conditions of posted workers. Clarification of the procedure for the posting of posted temporary agency workers. When concluding a contract for the use of workers, the temporary employment agency and the user undertaking must agree on whether it is permitted to re-post posted workers to another foreign country. If the user undertaking re-posts a posted worker, it must have the consent of the posted worker’s primary employer. In the case of re-posting, the employee retains the status of a posted temporary agency worker.

The law changes the working conditions that must be ensured for a posted worker during their stay in Estonia. From now on, instead of a minimum wage, wages must be guaranteed and posted workers must be reimbursed for the expenses related to the posting. For example, a posted worker usually works in Tallinn, but in order to perform their duties, they have to travel to Narva or Stockholm to pick up materials. In this case, the employer must pay the posted worker’s travel expenses, including daily allowances if the worker is posted abroad.

Long-term posting is also regulated. Until now, the law did not regulate how long an employee from another Member State could work as a posted worker in Estonia on the basis of minimum requirements. The amendment presupposes that the posted worker stays in Estonia for up to a year. The employer must then take into account that Estonian labour law will apply in its entirety after the worker has worked in Estonia for 12 or 18 months. For example, at the moment, annual leave must be guaranteed to a posted worker in accordance with Estonian labour law from the moment they arrive, then after 12 months, Estonian labour law will also apply to the preparation of the holiday schedule and the expiry of the holiday.

However, there are exemptions from this rule. The initial 12-month period can also be extended to 18 months with only the minimum requirements applying. To apply for an extension, a substantiated notice must be submitted to the Labour Inspectorate in a form that can be reproduced in writing (e.g. via e-mail). The notice must state why the posted worker must stay in Estonia for more than 12 months. If the employer knows that the worker’s stay in Estonia must only be extended by two months, for example, the period may be extended to 14 months. In the case of long-term posting, the entry into force of the law shall trigger the start of the 12- or 18-month period.

For the employer, the retention period for documents related to posted workers will be reduced from seven to three years from the end of the posting.

The amendments also add an obligation to the employer to keep the data of workers posted to Estonia up to date and notify the Labour Inspectorate of any changes, i.e. the submitted data must correspond to the actual situation.

The new form can be found at https://www.ti.ee/en/node/11079.

Additional information on foreign workers is available in the ‘Foreign worker’ section.