Employers: Aliens w/o residence permit should be able to work in Estonia until year-end

  • 2020-07-06
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian Employers' Confederation and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry have made a proposal to the government to allow foreigners staying in Estonia on a legal basis to continue working in the country at least until the end of 2020 regardless of whether or not their residence permit is valid. 

Estonian employers in their letter to Prime Minister Juri Ratas commended the government's decision on Monday to enable entry to Estonia for seasonal workers. Due to finding suitable skilled workers being time-consuming and costly, employers would like for their foreign employees to be able to continue working in Estonia at least until the end of 2020 on the condition that the alien's employment has been registered and their monthly income either equals or exceeds the average monthly remuneration in Estonia.

"We would like to underline that employers' first preference is to hire local workers; however, many positions cannot be filled with local workers because they do not have the skills required. The number of unemployed people will definitely increase during the crisis, but generally they do not possess the skills required for being hired as a skilled worker in the industrial sector, for instance," the letter reads.

"The skills needed cannot be acquired by the unemployed within a couple of months, either. What should also be taken into consideration is that as a result of various support measures, local workers may not be motivated to quickly return to the labor market," the employers said.

The Employers' Confederation and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry underscored that employers are mainly short of skilled workers, not unskilled workforce. 

"Employers' interest in keeping foreign unskilled workers on their payroll is reduced by a requirement stipulated by the Aliens Act, pursuant to which foreigners working in Estonia for a short term, too, must be paid at least the average wage," they said.

"According to the information we have, wage levels of foreign skilled workers are between 1-1.5 times the average wage in Estonia, which means they are certainly not cheap labor," the letter reads.