All employees are entitled to a written employment contract. The moment employees start work, they are deemed to have entered an agreement. The Language Act presumes that the employment contract is in Estonian unless the parties agree on using another language. If the agreement is in a foreign language, it does not require translation.
The written employment contract must include the following data:
*The exact hours (beginning and end of the working day, breaks, core hours of business, etc.) can be specified in internal documents.
An employment contract may be amended only if the employee and employer have agreed.
In addition to the employment contract terms and conditions, both parties are bound by a mutual obligation of loyalty and good faith. For an employee, this means that they must perform duties loyally, bearing in mind the employer's benefit and refrain from actions that harm the employer's reputation.
It is not mandatory to provide a payslip to employees. However, the employee has the right to request itemised payslips (paper or electronically), containing details of the basic salary, any additional remuneration, bonuses, extra payments, and deducted taxes. Employers have to comply with the request.
Employers must safeguard their employees' health and safety in the workplace, including those working from home. They have to undertake risk assessments, have a health and safety policy, and record workplace accidents. Employers do not have to obtain liability insurance for employees, as it's voluntary; however, it's common.
The employer must arrange that the employee sees an occupational health doctor during the first four months of the employment relationship. After that, the employee should see them every three years or more often if required. The occupational health doctor will assess the employee's suitability for the work and recommend work condition improvements. The occupational health doctor discloses their observations and decisions to the employer.
Employees have the right to be treated equally and fairly based on the same grounds listed under the anti-discrimination section.
The Estonian Employment Contracts Act and the Estonian Gender Equality Act and Equal Treatment Act prohibit discrimination based on sex, race, age, nationality, colour, disability, sexual orientation, religious or other beliefs.
As the chief processor of employee personal data, the employer has specific duties under the Personal Data Protection Act. They must appoint a particular person within the company who should be responsible for processing personal data.
Under the GDPR rules, employers are subject to restrictions when retrieving and disclosing employee data.
Employees have the right to request access to their data kept by their employer.
The reorganisation, or change in the ownership, does not terminate employment, nor does it serve as grounds for termination. In those circumstances, employees have the right to continue working for the new business formed as a result. Before the transfer, the parties must also comply with the information and consultation obligations regarding the transfer and the potential impact on employees (only applicable if significant changes are planned concerning employees).
Protected employees include pregnant women and those on maternity or paternity leave. The employer may only terminate their employment in case of liquidation or bankruptcy.
Furthermore, pregnant employees, employees raising children under three years old and employee representatives (incl. elected employees' trustees, elected trade union trustees, work environment specialists, etc.) have preferential right to remain at work in case of redundancy. The employer will have to justify the employment termination (i.e. it is presumed that the employment termination was done for these reasons if the employer does not show other reasons).
People who become involuntarily unemployed (except for leaving on their initiative, by mutual agreement of the parties, or due to breach of contract by the employee) are entitled to a government unemployment insurance benefit. The rate of 40-60% of their average salary for up to 360 calendar days if they have contributed to social security and unemployment insurances for at least 12 months during the last three years
The unemployment benefit depends on the employee's salary, but there are minimum and maximum amounts capped. For the first 100 calendar days, the unemployment insurance benefit is 60% of the employee's average salary (currently max €64.12 gross per day) and 40% of the employee's average wage from the 101st day onwards (currently max €42.74 gross per day).
If the employee's overall length of employment is up to five years, they will be eligible for the unemployment insurance benefit for up to 180 calendar days. If the employee's overall employment length is 5-10 years, they will be eligible for the unemployment insurance benefit for up to 270 calendar days. If the employee's overall length of employment is more than ten years, they will be eligible for the unemployment insurance benefit for up to 360 calendar days.
Employers must provide suitable working conditions and facilities for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Based on a doctor's sick leave certificate, pregnant women may temporarily request work appropriate to their medical status.
Employers must allow pregnant women time off for ante-natal examinations at times prescribed by a doctor. Overtime and relocation cannot be required of pregnant women, employees who are entitled to pregnancy and maternity leave or raising a child under three.
Anyone has the right to establish a trade union freely and without prior permission, and to join a trade union or obtain from doing so. At least five employees may found a trade union. Members of the armed forces in active service in the Defence Forces are not permitted to establish or join trade unions.
Employees are entitled to join the trade union of their workplace or any other trade union. Employees can act as the elected representative of a trade union.