Coalition aims to shield older workers

  • 2006-01-11
  • Baltic News Service
TALLINN - A ruling coalition-sponsored bill to protect older people from dismissal passed its first reading in Parliament this week, while lawmakers rejected an analogous initiative from the Social Democrats, citing technical shortcomings.

The bill handed in by three ruling partners 's the Reform Party, the Center Party and the People's Union 'sat the end of October proposes to void provisions of the Employment Contracts Act that allow employers to terminate an employment contract after the employee turns 65 and is entitled to full old-age pension.

Authors of the law find age-discrimination provisions to be disproportionately prejudiced with the constitutional rights and freedoms of older people and inconsistent with the objectives of a benign employment policy.

If turned into law, the bill should have a positive impact on preserving the working capacity of older employees and cutting public expenditure in the social sphere.

Although opposition parties called for combining two similar bills, the ruling alliance rejected the Social Democrats-initiated legislation at the standing social affairs committee's proposal.

MP Kadi Parnits from the Social Democratic Party blasted the coalition, saying it lacked a culture of governance.

"Presenting an analogous bill shortly after one party has already handed in one is foolish, but if one's set on being foolish and wasting time and energy, it would be elementary to combine these similar bills," she said.

Deputies from the three ruling parties voted out a similar bill likewise initiated by the Social Democratic Party in September as well, saying it would be more expedient to introduce corresponding regulations in the new employment contract law to be drafted soon.

The need to amend the Employment Contract Act has been pointed out by Legal Chancellor Allar Joks, in whose opinion the current law is inconsistent with the Constitution, discriminating against one group of the population on the grounds of age.