Estonian parlt supports more flexible employment contracts in retail trade

  • 2021-11-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian parliament at a sitting with remote participation on Thursday passed a bill enabling more flexible employment contracts in retail trade.

The new regulation is based on a goodwill agreement signed by the Estonian Service and Trade Workers Union, Traders' Association, Trade Union Confederation, Employers' Confederation and the Ministry of Social Affairs piloting the use of variable hours contracts in retail, spokespeople for the parliament said.

In the retail sector it is often necessary to change work schedules or temporarily increase workloads, which gives rise to the need to sign contracts under the law of obligations when the volume of work grows temporarily.

Based on a variable hours contract, employees can do up to eight hours of overtime per a seven-day period in addition to their regular working time. A variable hours contract allows employers to involve more people in the workforce part-time and flexibly, thereby employing more people and providing them with greater protection under an employment contract than under a contract under the law of obligations.

A variable hours contract may be concluded with an employee who works 12 hours or more part-time over a period of seven days and whose hourly rate is at least 1.2 times the minimum hourly rate.

The contract must be entered into in writing. All variable hours offered by the employer as part of the new agreement are voluntary and must be agreed upon separately. The employees' regular working time and variable hours must not exceed full time working hours.

The bill stipulates that an employer may enter into a variable hours contract with up to 17.5 percent of its employees, meaning this option can be used by a retail employer with at least six employees.

The regulation of variable hours contracts will remain valid for 2.5 years. The changes have been established with a fixed term to enable to determine their impact before the end of the period, as a result of which it can be decided if the option to enter into variable hours contracts should be extended or even expanded to also include other sectors.