TALLINN – The Riigikogu on Monday passed amendments to the Collective Agreements Act, which bring the regulation of extending the terms of collective bargaining agreements into line with the freedom to conduct a business protected by the Constitution, while ensuring the capacity for social partnership and collective inclusion.
The regulation concerning extension applies to collective agreements concluded between employers and trade union federations or confederations. The aim is that pay, and working time and rest time conditions can only be extended to the whole sector if agreed between employers who employ at least 40 percent of the workers in the sector and a trade union federation or a trade union bringing together people working in the same sector whose members represent 15 percent of the workers in the sector or which has at least 500 members.
Before entering into an agreement, the parties have the obligation to inform and involve all employees and employers to whom the conditions are to be extended. The main problem with the existing regulation is the lack of preconditions for extension and criteria for application, which makes it possible for a small group to agree on extending commitments to a whole sector. This entails a disproportionate restriction on the freedom to conduct a business, the explanatory memorandum accompanying the bill says.
In addition, the Employment Contracts Act was amended to increase the amount of compensation due in the event of invalidity of the termination of an employment relationship in a situation where the employment contract has been terminated without a legal basis with a pregnant woman, a woman entitled to pregnancy leave or maternity leave, or a worker who is a representative of workers.
Furthermore, the Public Service Act was amended to increase the amount of compensation due in the event of invalidity of the termination of a service relationship in a situation where the service contract was terminated without a legal basis with a pregnant woman, a woman entitled to pregnancy leave or maternity leave, an official raising a child less than seven years of age, or an official who is a representative of officials.