Unemployment Insurance Fund: War has not led to major redundancies in Estonia

  • 2022-03-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – No major redundancies have been notified to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund as a result of Russia's military attack on Ukraine, spokespeople for the fund said on Thursday.

"In March, two companies have notified collective redundancies, with a total of 60 people to be made redundant at these companies combined. One company is active in the manufacturing industry, the other in the food service sector," Annika Koppel, head of communications at the Unemployment Insurance Fund, told BNS.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund has opened a separate job portal for Ukrainians, where  offers are posted in Russian and English. By Wednesday, more than 700 employers had registered on the portal.

"A very large number of employers have indicated directly to our employers' consultants that they would be happy to hire Ukrainian refugees to help. They are even willing to create jobs for them," Koppel said. 

She said jobs are offered in a wide variety of fields, so we cannot just talk about the traditional jobs, so to speak, where we are used to seeing Ukrainian labor, such as unskilled work and manufacturing jobs. At the moment, there's a large number of job vacancies in the food service and hospitality sector, and also in various manufacturing jobs. In addition, there are job offers in  education -- teachers, kindergarten speech therapists and psychologists, in the IT sector and in agriculture. The vacancies are both open-ended and temporary.

As usual with job offers, there are more job offers in the larger regions like Harju County, Tallinn and Tartu. But employers having vacancies can be found all over Estonia.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund does not yet have a good overview of the skills and profiles of the Ukrainians who have arrived here lately and their job expectations, which will be garnered gradually as the new arrivals register as job seekers or unemployed. According to preliminary data, there are nurses and drivers among the people who arrived here, but also those who are ready to temporarily do simpler jobs such as those of a packager and the like.

"Employers must take into account that the people who arrive from Ukraine have not come here first and foremost with employment on their minds, but are fleeing a war. Not all of them are prepared to start working right away," Koppel said.

Many Estonian employers are already familiar with workforce from Ukraine. The number of short-term workers who are citizens of Ukraine has increased significantly in recent years. In 2021, 23,672 Ukrainian citizens registered for short-term employment in Estonia, accounting for more than 70 percent of all short-term workers here. The lion's share of short-term workers is employed in construction and manufacturing, where workers from Ukraine numbered 6,597 and 6,471 respectively at the beginning of 2022.

On Tuesday, March 8, the government adopted a decision to apply temporary protection to war refugees who have arrived in Estonia since February 24. This means that starting from Wednesday, March 9, war refugees have the opportunity to apply for a residence permit from the Police and Border Guard Board on the basis of temporary protection.

The decision to grant residence permit gives Ukrainian war refugees the right to work and receive labor market services during their stay in Estonia, such as labor market training, work placements and labor market benefits, and other assistance on an equal footing with permanent residents of Estonia.

They have the right to work in Estonia under the same conditions as Estonian citizens. The minimum wage for full-time employment in Estonia is 654 euros a month. The employment of such people does not need to be registered separately.

Holders of a residence permit can register as unemployed with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. If a person is registered as unemployed, they will have their own adviser at the Unemployment Insurance Fund who helps them in their search for a job and provides the support necessary for getting a job. If necessary, the unemployment benefit of 292.02 euros is paid to working-age people on the basis of an application from the person.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund also holds regular information sessions at accommodation centers to inform Ukrainians about job opportunities, jobs and employers.