- A comprehensive overview of the amendments to the Employment Contracts Act that entered into force on August 1
A comprehensive overview of the amendments to the Employment Contracts Act that entered into force on August 1
On August 1, several important changes to the Employment Contracts Act came into force. Among other, the changes concern the notification of the employee about working conditions such as training provided by the employer, payment of taxes and paid holidays, and in addition, the probationary period will be extended by the number of days the employee falls ill.
The employee must be given more information about the working conditions
If before the employer had to inform the employee in writing about, for example, the employer's data, the time of starting work, work tasks, salary, payday, place of work and duration of holiday (Employment Contracts Act § 5), then from August 1, the employer must no longer provide the employee with information about working conditions.
Among other, the employee must be informed if the employer offers the possibility of training. For example, when starting work, the employee must undergo information security training, and information about other trainings offered by the employer is shared via e-mail.
From now on, the employer must also provide information about the holidays paid by the employer and their duration, together with the payment procedure and under what conditions the employee is entitled to a holiday. Thus, for example, the employment contract can state that the annual basic holiday is 28 calendar days, which is compensated according to the procedure set out in the Employment Contracts Act, and the additional 3 calendar days offered by the employer are compensated according to the average salary, and other holidays that the employee can use are listed in the Employment Contracts Act.
From now on the employer must start providing the employee with information about the procedure for overtime work and the compensation. For example, the employment contract may state that the parties may agree on overtime work, and overtime work is compensated by giving the employee time off.
If according to the current Employment Contracts Act the employer must inform the employee about the deadlines for cancelling the employment contract, then according to the amendments, the employee must be informed about the formal requirements for cancelling the employment relationship and the obligation of justification. This means that the employer must state that the cancellation notice must be submitted in a form that allows re-submission in writing (e.g. by e-mail) and it must be justified, except in case the employee cancels the employment contract ordinarily.
In addition, from now on, the employer must provide the employee with information about the institutions to which tax payments are made and what protection the employee receives when paying them. This means that the employment contract must state that, for example, social tax is paid to the Tax and Customs Board, which finances the employee's health insurance and I and II pension pillar, or refer to the sections of the relevant laws.
Employers must comply with the changes for new employees who start work from August 1 this year. This means that the employer does not have to change the employment contracts of employees who were already working at the company before August 1, but the employment contracts concluded after August 1 must be in accordance with amendments of the Employment Contracts Act. If an employee who has been at work for a longer period of time (started working before August 1) asks the employer to inform him/her about the new requirements, the employer must provide the employee with the relevant information.
Changes related to probationary period
If previously the probationary period had to be mentioned in the employment contract only in case the probationary period is shorter than 4 months, then according to the amendments, from now on the employee must always be informed of the duration of the probationary period. This means that if an employee starts work with, for example, a four-month probationary period, this must be stated in the employment contract. It is recommended to note also the start and end dates of the probationary period.
From now on, the employee's probationary period will be extended by the time spent away from work. Therefore, if a probationary employee is unable to perform their duties because, for example, they are on sick leave for 8 days due to the flu, or, on a one-week holiday, then the probationary period will be extended by these 8 days of illness or 7 days of holiday.
As of August 1, the probationary period does not apply if the employee and the employer extend a specified term employment contract. Also, the probationary period does not apply if the parties sign a specified term contract consecutively (the difference between the end of one employment contract and the conclusion of the next contract is not longer than 2 months) for the performance of work that is identical or similar to the previous work.
The employee's right to request suitable working conditions
As of August 1, an employee can apply for a full-time job instead of a part-time job or a specified term employment contract for an unspecified period. At the same time, the employer is not obliged to provide the employee with suitable working conditions.
The employer must respond to the employee's request within 14 calendar days of receiving the request, and if the employee submits more than one request within a 4-month period, the employer may respond to only one of them. In addition, the employer must justify the refusal to fulfil the request in a form that allows for written reproduction in such a way that it becomes clear why the request cannot be satisfied due to the organization of work. For example, if the employee asks the employer to draw up a specified term employment contract for an unspecified period, but the employer cannot rearrange the work in this way, the employer must explain this to the employee by email.
Retention of information related to working conditions
With the amendments to the Employment Contracts Act, the employer has the obligation to keep, in addition to the working conditions document, also information on the transmission or reception of information on working conditions during the term of the employment contract and for ten years after the cancellation of the contract. Such proof must be maintained for all employees, including employees hired before August 1, who request new information. However, the employer can choose to keep proof of data transmission or reception, or both. This means that if the employer preserves the transmission of data, for example when sending information to an employee by e-mail, a copy of this e-mail must be preserved.
Updated templates of employment contracts are available in the e-shop of the Chamber
The templates of employment contracts (specified term, unspecified term, in Estonian, Russian and English) which are in accordance with the amendments to the Employment Contracts Act that will come into effect on August 1 are available in the e-shop of Chamber of Commerce.
If you have additional questions about this topic, please contact the lawyers of the Chamber of Commerce by e-mail at email@example.com.
See also: Employment Contracts Act