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Estonia: National collective agreement in healthcare prompts wage growth

  • 2018-12-01
  • LETA/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian Medical Association, Estonian Union of Healthcare Professionals and Estonian Nurses' Association, the Estonian Association of Hospitals, and the Union of Estonian Emergency Medical Services on Friday are to sign a new collective agreement for 2019-2020 that will prompt wage growth.

The agreement will ensure a rise in the hourly wage threshold for the next and the following year, increase additional payment for night work, establish higher wages for weekend work and extend the yearly additional rest leave. Terms of professional training were also agreed upon.

Parties to the collective agreement prioritize the accessibility of high-quality medical care for all patients. Improved conditions and a more stable work environment motivate doctors and nurses to work in Estonia.

We often give up the time with our family or work at the expense of our health to cover holidays and nights, Gerli Liivet and Iivi Luik, representatives of nurses and carers, said. "We are glad that employers understand the need to compensate it," they added.

"Round the clock care for patients is vital in healthcare. Night work, however, is mentally and physically exhausting, and has to be fairly remunerated when it comes to the types of jobs where night work is inevitable. The agreement that was reached is a clear sign that the work of healthcare professionals is increasingly being appreciated," Gerli Liivet, vice president of the Estonian Nurses' Association, said in a press release.

The agreement provides that night wage for nurses from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. will increase by 5 percent starting from April 1, 2019. Hourly wages for working on weekends will increase by 10 percent from April 1, 2020.

It was also agreed upon that healthcare professionals have the right to receive five to seven calendar days of paid additional rest leave per year, which exceeds the current number of additional rest days by two.

The health professionals and employers commended the Minister of Health and Labor Riina Sikkut and heads of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund for good cooperation in the course of the negotiations.

"The culture of negotiation has significantly improved and a collective agreement has become a natural part of working life," president of the Estonian Medical Association, Jaan Sutt, said.

"Interpersonal relationships are the cornerstone of health care. Collective agreements, however, are an exam the passing of which is not just important for participants, but for patients, too. I am fairly certain that the result is positive to all the parties involved," head of the Estonian Association of Hospitals, Urmas Sule, said.