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Worklife and coronavirus


What should be taken in consideration by my employer during the current situation?

It is of utmost importance that the workplaces use disinfectants.

In the offices:

  • it is recommended for people to keep physical distance from each other,
  • it is important to air the rooms regularly,
  • clean the surfaces regularly.

See here recommendations by the Health Board for efficient cleaning and disinfection.

Information regarding safe return to the offices from working remotely is provided by the Ministry of Social Affaires guidelines here.

People should be sent home from work, if

  • they are ill
  • might have been in contact with an infected person,
  • belong to a risk group.

Please note! Employees arriving from abroad are required to stay home for 10 days and monitor their health carefully. More information on the requirements of self-isolation, and specific countries can be found on the [website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] (

Both the employee and the employer need to agree to the changes in working conditions.

Can I refuse a secondment or a business trip abroad?

The employer is obligated to assess work-related risks when he sends an employee to a work-related trip abroad. Therefore, it is primarily the obligation of the employer to assess the risks and take the decision on whether it is possible to avoid sending the employee on a business trip.

The employee has the right to refuse or suspend work when fulfilling the tasks if it

  • endangers their own health or that of other persons', or
  • would not allow to follow environmental safety regulations,

by immediately notifying the employer or their representative and occupational health and safety representative.

Thus, if you find that you would be endangering your life or health by going to a work-related trip abroad, you do have the right to refuse to go.

If the employee is sent on a business trip, the employer must ensure that the employee has the necessary personal protective equipment (e.g. mask, disinfectants, etc.) for their trip. This is particularly important in countries where wearing a mask is mandatory.

See more in §14(5) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

I have received an exposure notification and have to self-isolate. Can I apply for sick leave?

Since people exposed to COVID-19 ("close contacts") have to self-isolate in order not to spread the disease, they are entitled to sick leave if they should require it. The right to sick leave applies to all exposed people, regardless of whether they have been detected by the app or by an employee of the Health Board. Every close contact seeking to apply for sick leave, must request it from their general practitioner. In order for a general practitioner to confirm that an exposure has taken place, he or she has to make an inquiry to the Health Board.

Therefore, if the app has detected your exposure, you should notify the Health Board by calling the number displayed in the app (+372 794 3500). Upon calling, you will be put through to an exposure notification specialist in your area, who will ask a few clarifying questions and then register your exposure. After that you may request sick leave from your general practitioner.

Who has the right to go on sick leave?

Doctors can issue the sick note (confirmation of incapacity to work) to people who have medical insurance through their employer. The doctor decides whether or not to issue such a certificate based on the state of the person’s health.

Based on the sick note the employer and the Health Insurance Fund will pay compensation for incapacity to work, aimed at partial compensation for loss of earnings while the person is sick.

The doctor fills in the electronic sick note specifying the period how long the person will be on sick leave, and sends it electronically to the Health Insurance Fund. The data sent by the doctor and information on compensation paid out can be found under the personal sickness compensation service in the state portal

For more see:

What should the employer take into account regarding the work environment?

Various precautions to prevent the spread of the virus continue to be important:

  • preference for remote work,
  • reducing the physical exposure of employees,
  • airing and proper cleaning of rooms,
  • the employees must stay at home when sick.

When working in the work environment you should bear in mind the following:

  • when you are sick, stay home! Ask sick employees to stay home!
  • before allowing people to return to work, find out how employees can be exposed to the virus in the work environment and take action to mitigate risks.
  • consider how to protect the employees belonging to risk groups.
  • If necessary, consult with the Labour Inspectorate's work environment consultant or occupational health doctor on how to make the working environment safer.
  • discuss planned changes with the employees in the work environment and, if necessary, instruct them before returning to work.
  • re-arrange the work environment so that working places would be separated from each other, and the least possible number of employees would be in the same room.
  • Resume work gradually, if possible, prefer remote working, and holding meetings online.
  • Disperse break times so that there are not many employees gathering in the break rooms at the same time.
  • pay attention to hygiene rules, hand washing and the availability of disinfectants at entrances and exits, near movement routes and near meeting and recreation rooms.
  • arrange work in such a way that the same tools and work surfaces are used by only one employee and assure regular cleaning.
  • clean and air both working and resting spaces, assure proper ventilation or airing of premises.
  • if necessary, issue personal protective equipment to employees and instruct how to use them.

Can I refuse to go to work?

An employee with a contract of employment has an obligation to work according to the agreed terms.

If the employee feels that they cannot go to work, then the employee has to make an arrangement with the employer. The employee and the employer have various options for coming to an arrangement, including:

  • remote work (work from home),

  • unpaid leave,

  • application of the e § 35 and § 37 of the Employment Act,

  • use of mandated annual leave. If an annual leave schedule has been pre-arranged, changes in annual leave times can only be made if mutually agreed. If the employee does not wish to use the employee’s mandated annual leave, another solution must be found.

Please also refer to the Employment Contracts Act:

However, if the employee is returning from a country with higher risk for COVID-19, then the 10-day period of self-isolation or the restrictions on freedom of movement apply. Information on at-risk countries is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 10-day self-insulation requirement does not automatically mean that the employee does not have to go to work. The employee must inform the employer of their return from a foreign country and make an arrangement on how they can fulfil their obligations; for example, as a remote work from home or referring to some of the points mentioned above (e.g. use of unpaid leave or mandated annual leave etc.).

The employer must assess the possible risk of the spread of disease among the staff. When authorising work, both the employer and the employee must take all measures to prevent the possible spread of the virus and the collective illness, including, for example, minimizing contact with other persons if possible or using personal protective equipment.

When returning from the at-risk country, it is possible to reduce the period of restrictions on freedom of movement by taking two SARS-CoV-2 tests when returning to Estonia – the first test immediately upon arrival and the second test no earlier than on the seventh day after the first test results have been returned. The results of both tests must be negative, then it is possible to return to normal everyday life.

The employee must not go to work if they have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19 - in this case they must remain in quarantine for 14 days. If the employee needs to quarantine, they can take a sick leave, or care leave, if the person who has been in close contact with an infected person was your child. The requirements applied for persons who have been in close contact with infected persons are available on the website of the Health Board. The person who has been in close contact with an infected person can reduce their quarantine period by taking the coronavirus test no sooner than on the 10th day after the last confirmed contact with a person who has a confirmed coronavirus infection, and the result of the test must be negative.

The employer must bear in mind that also in these cases, the rights and obligations of the employer resulting from the Law on Health and Safety at Work still apply, including the obligation to ensure safety at work and to carry out a health checks.

Does the employer have the right to demand that a worker wear a face mask during the virus period?

The decision on the use of personal protective equipment is preceded by a risk analysis. This means that the employer carries out a risk analysis in the course of which he will ascertain what risk factors occur in the work environment. Among other things, the biological risk factors and the possibility of contracting the coronavirus due to them are assessed. After this, it will be possible to decide what kind of measures will be taken to avoid or reduce the risks.

Personal protective equipment must be used if the results of the risk analysis show that the risk of infection cannot be avoided or reduced with the use of general protective equipment (for instance, by installing protective glasses to limit the spread of the virus) or measures of work organization (keeping a distance, the availability of disinfectants).

The employer has an obligation to notify the workers of the results of the risk assessment of the work environment, including the health risks and the measures to be taken to avoid damage to health. The employer will explain to the workers what the risk analysis determined the possible risk areas to be (an infection risk while performing a specific task at the specific company) and what are the measures to be applied. As general protective equipment and measures of work organization must be preferred to the use of personal protective equipment, the workers must be explained why the decision was made to prefer the use of personal protective equipment.

The employer must also see to it that the personal protective equipment does not create an excess burden on the wearer and would be suitable for the user to use in specific work conditions. If these requirements are not fulfilled for some workers, the worker must turn to the employer and solutions must be found in cooperation. These might include using a different type of mask or reorganizing work so that the worker could take more frequent breaks.

How long a mask can be worn is written down in the manual of the particular mask and has to be adhered to. The employer must take into consideration that there has to be enough masks for them to be changed out if necessary.

The employer has to guarantee that the worker uses the personal protective equipment according to the manufacturer's manual, from the start of the dangerous work until finishing the work, and check its usage. The worker has the obligation to use the personal protective equipment according to the manual and the instructions given by the employer.

Thus the employer does have the right to demand that the worker use personal protective equipment and the worker has the obligation to use personal protective equipment.

If, in the course of checks, it turns out that in spite of the employer's notices the worker is not using the prescribed personal protective equipment, the employer has the right to issue a warning to the worker. A warning is one of the options for an employer to organize the work in her company and react to a worker's professional behaviour and violation of his duties of employment. If a violation has occurred, the employer has to turn the worker's attention to it and give the worker a possibility to improve his behaviour. A warning can be either oral or written but the employer must be able to later prove that a warning was issued.

As a very extreme option and when a warning did not help and the worker is still violating his duties of employment, the employer has the right to an extraordinary cancellation of the employment relationship, as the worker has ignored the reasonable orders of the employer regardless of the warning, and violated his duties of employment. The employer has the right to cancel the employment contract, while following the terms of advance notice. In exceptional cases the terms of advance notice can be ignored, if the employer cannot be reasonably demanded to continue the contract until the end of the term of advance notice or until the agreed upon term is full. In this case, the employer can cancel the employment relationship within a reasonable time. What a reasonable time is must be evaluated by the employer (effective immediately, within a week or any other time). An employment contract can be cancelled with a declaration of cancellation in a format which can be reproduced in writing (for instance, an e-mail etc.) and the employer must always substantiate the cancellation.

In conclusion, it can be said that the employer has to explain to the worker why it is necessary to use personal protective equipment and then also demand its use. Explaining the requirements to the workers is important so that the worker would understand why these requirements have been enacted. If the background of the enacted requirements is not explained to the worker, the opposition to fulfilling the requirements might be greater.

If the worker does not follow the orders of the employer, the employer can warn the worker that the employment relationship with him will be cancelled if the worker does not adhere to the enacted requirements. If the worker does not start adhering to the requirements even after a warning has been issued, the employer has the option of cancelling the employment relationship.

Keep your employees informed about the situation


The head of a company should keep the employees informed about the changes the corona crisis has created in how everyday work is conducted. It would also be good to give an overview of how the company is faring in the context of the recession.

Allow for a home office


If it is possible for the employees to work from home, the employer should allow it. Internet-based applications offer solutions for how to maintain the regular work rhythm even from a distance.

Understand the parents


In many homes, the children are playing and studying alongside with parents who are working. The employer could offer flexibility for employees in such situations.


Protecting workers

If an employee has given a positive coronavirus test, does the employer need to notify all their colleagues or only those that have been in contact with the infected person? What measures need to be taken?

If an employee finds out that their coronavirus test came back positive, they need to notify their employer immediately.

The employer must send both infected persons and persons with a suspected infection home to quarantine.

For this, the employer will establish the employees that have come into contact with the infected colleague at the workplace within the past two weeks. They also need to stay home for 14 days and monitor their health status closely. If a person develops a fever or a cough during this time, they need to contact his family doctor.

If you have been in close contact with someone with an infection, then your self-isolation period can be reduced. The test can be taken after 10 days of self-isolation, and if the test results are negative, it is no longer necessary to remain in self-isolation. You have to remain in self-isolation until you receive your test results.

Those employees who did not come into direct contact with the infected person may continue their everyday work but should monitor their health closely.

The employer must guarantee that in order to contain the spread of the virus at the workplace

  • necessary protective equipment is used,
  • the rooms are aired and
  • the surfaces are cleaned diligently.

What kind of settings should be used for operating a building´s ventilation system currently?

In non-residential premises and social welfare institutions, the ventilation system must not be switched off even if the building is not in use.

The ventilation system must also operate at evenings and weekends at with either design capacity or normal daily regime (100%) or reduced capacity (at least 40%). The ventilation system operating with reduced capacity must be switched to the design capacity regime at least two hours before the building or part of the building will be used.

Circulating air ventilation systems are in use in storehouses and shopping centres. They must be fully switched onto the external air injection to avoid possible virus circulation through the ventilation system.

In other ventilation systems, the air injection and extraction settings must be reviewed so that the system sends the air exhaust out without recirculating it.

If the building does not have an air conditioning and ventilation system that guarantees suitable indoor climate, the rooms must be actively aired. This should be done at least once an hour and within 15 minutes before people arrive.

Room capacity-based circulating cooling or heating device (for example: fan-coil, split device) need to be switched off unless it is necessary to ensure a certain temperature in the room or when the device cannot be switched off.

In this case, continuous air flow through the device must be ensured. If the fan coil (heating device with a ventilator) is operational, the settings must be changed so that the fan would not turn off. This way the virus does not accumulate in the filter.

To prevent the spread of disease it has been recommended to also air office spaces. How to clean the air when the office has general ventilation and the windows cannot be opened?

If it is not possible to air the rooms, surfaces should be regularly cleaned with disinfectant. The corona virus does not spread through the ventilation system but mainly by a close contact with a person suspected to be infected who has symptoms characteristic to the disease, mainly a cough.

The precondition to the spread of the virus is close contact with the bodily fluids (blood, excrements, urine, spit, sperm) of an infected person. When a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, droplets containing the virus end up in the air. These virus droplets are quite heavy and therefore do not travel very far in the air. According to what we have learned thus far they can travel 2 meters at the maximum. Because of their heaviness it is also not probable that air flow would make the droplets travel further from surfaces.

The life span of virus droplets on surfaces depends on the air temperature and average humidity of the surrounding environment. At room temperature, or 22-25 degrees and 40% relative humidity, the virus survives up to 4 or 5 days. The higher the temperature and relative humidity, the faster the virus is destroyed.

An effective way to destroy the corona virus from surfaces is using different biocides or antimicrobial solutions. One of the most common ones is ethanol. A solution containing 70% ethanol is adequate for cleaning surfaces of COVID-19 contamination.

Would airing the rooms help to prevent the transmission of the infection?

Coronavirus is transmitted as droplet infection. Based on current information, we cannot dismiss the possibility of coronavirus transmission though aerosolization as airborne fine particles.

Airing the rooms to reduce the transmission is important.

What are the recommendations for employers regarding employees who have come into contact with infected persons?

After coming into close contact with an infected person, the employees have to stay at home for 14 days and monitor their health status.

If there are any health concerns, the family physician should be contacted.

At the doctor's discretion, it is possible to also receive a certificate of sick leave.

If you have been in close contact with someone with an infection, then your self-isolation period can be reduced. The test can be taken after 10 days of self-isolation, and if the test results are negative, it is no longer necessary to remain in self-isolation. You have to remain in self-isolation until you receive your test results.

Does the corona virus spread through ventilation systems?

The corona virus does not spread though the ventilation system of an apartment building. Most infections happen through close contact by way of droplet infection when the droplets land on another person’s mucous membrane, i.e. in the nose, mouth or eyes. Infection can also happen from surfaces contaminated with the droplets. For instance, you can get infected by touching a door handle and then your face.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), currently there is not enough reliable evidence that the infection can spread through ventilation systems.

According to Hans Orru, the Associate Professor in Environmental Health at the University of Tartu, the amount of virus particles inhaled is also important. In order to get the necessary amount, there must be a close contact with a sick person or one must be in a small closed room with a sick person. An amount that could carry through the ventilation systems from the neighbours is not enough in a normal situation.

It is still always important to guarantee adequate air exchange in rooms to reduce the amount of virus particles in the rooms of both sick and healthy people. For this we recommend:

  • To air your living spaces regularly
  • In public spaces, to guarantee a good round-the-clock air exchange that would not allow the virus particles and contaminants to accumulate.

The corona virus is capable of attaching itself to aerosols but their amount in air decreases relatively quickly. According to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, in three hours a sixth of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles remain.



Children and work

What should be done if the parental benefit ended during the emergency situation but it is not possible to return to work?

When the parental benefit ends, the parent can end the parental leave and return to work. If this is not possible, the circumstances need to be differentiatied according to cause.

If the employer

  • has no work to provide, he must still allow the employee to return to work and pay her wages even if no work is provided. The employer may reduce the wages but the employee has the right to decline this. If the employer has no work to give in a situation provided by §37 of the Employment Contract Act and the employee cancels the contract, the employee has a right to a redundancy compensation. If the employer does not agree to a reduction of wages, she has the right to cancel the contract and the employer must pay compensation. More information in §35 or 37 of the Employment Contract Act

  • wishes to make the employee redundant, parents raising a child under three are in a preferential situation. People on parental leave can be made redundant only if the employer stops operating (e.g. a bankruptcy is declared).


Staying at home, sick leave

Do I have to remain home for 14 days if I came into contact with a person who was coughing or had flu symptoms while at work?

You have to stay at home if you came into contact with an infected person or you are symptomatic (you have a cough, trouble breathing, or a fever).

If your colleague gets symptoms that indicate an acute respiratory infection, including the coronavirus, they

  • have to go home immediately, and
  • contact their family doctor who will arrange for the coronavirus test, should it be necessary.

If your colleague's corona test results were positive, the employer has to establish the people who have been in close contact with the infected person. If you are among them, you will have to stay home for 14 days and monitor your health. As a contact with an infected person is considered equivalent to getting infected, the doctor can issue you a certificate for sick leave.

If you have been in close contact with someone with an infection, then your 14-calendar day self-isolation period can be shortened if you take a coronavirus test. The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 test can be taken after 10 days of self-isolation, and if the test results are negative, it is no longer necessary to remain in self-isolation. You have to remain in self-isolation until you receive your test results.

If I live with a person who has a fever and a cough but who has not been tested for coronavirus, should I stay home for 14 days? Can I get a certificate for sick leave based on the circumstances?

Monitor your health and consult your employer as to whether it is possible to work remotely. Keep away from other people while complying with all the hygiene rules.

If you have no health complaints and you have not been in close contact with any tested infected persons, your doctor has no reason to give you a certificate for sick leave.

However, a close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus is considered to be the same as an infection. Your doctor can give you

  • a certificate for sick leave if you were in close contact with a person infected with coronavirus,
  • a certificate for care leave if your child has been in close contact with a person infected with coronavirus.

NB! The certificates for sick leave or care leave can be issued by your doctor only if your employer has officially registered your employment and you have valid health insurance.

Can a doctor issue a sick leave certificate for me even though I am not sick?

If you are healthy, and you have not been in contact with infected persons, the doctor has no cause to issue a sick leave certificate. Monitor your health, if possible, work remotely from home, and limit contacts with other people.

Sick leave certificate can be issued by a doctor if you have come into contact with an infected person. If a child has been in contact with an infected person, the doctor can issue a care leave certificate for the parents. Being in contact with an infected person is considered equal to being sick or caring for a sick child. In this case, you will be paid incapacity compensation based on the usual system. Please note that the incapacity to work certificate can be issued by the doctor only if your employer has officially registered your employment and you have valid health insurance.

How is medical care guaranteed to people without health insurance?

During the emergency situation, treatment for the virus is considered emergency care to which uninsured persons are entitled during regular times as well (emergency room, ambulance). If an uninsured person suspects that she might be infected, she can contact the nearest family health centre by phone. From there, a person is sent to testing, if necessary, and is given instructions on how to act upon her health concerns. An invoice is presented to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and the person does not have to pay the fee herself. You can find more info on how to get health insurance from here.

Who has the right to a certificate for care leave?

Care allowance is a temporary incapacity benefit. It is paid by the Health Insurance Fund to insured people, meaning an employee, a civil servant, person receiving a fee under a contract of obligations, a member of the management board or other managing body of a legal person, or a self-employed person or their spouse participating in their enterprise, who loses taxable income subject to social tax because they are caring for a sick child or family member.

Care allowance is granted to a person:

  • caring for a child under 12 or a person under 19 with disabilities for up to 14 consecutive days;
  • caring for a child under 12 for up to 60 consecutive days if the illness is caused by a malignant tumour and the child has started treatment in hospital;
  • caring for a member of their family at home for up to seven consecutive days;
  • caring for a child under three or a child under 16 with disabilities if the carer of the child is sick themselves or is on maternity leave. In these cases the care allowance may be for up to 10 consecutive days.

A doctor may also issue a certificate for care leave for longer period, but the care allowance is only paid for limited duration.

For further information:

How should an employee of a large industry, such as a factory, behave around a conveyor belt if he/she exhibits symptoms (cough, sore throat, etc.)? Who to contact and what to do?

If a factory worker exhibits symptoms (cough, breathing difficulties or fever) that may indicate an acute respiratory infection, including coronavirus, he/she should stay at home immediately and contact their general practitioner who will arrange for testing if necessary.

Other members of the workforce should monitor their health and, if symptoms occur, stay at home and contact their general practitioner. In order to protect themselves and others, all members of the workforce should follow hygiene requirements and wash their hands frequently.

At what rate and for which days of sick leave will an employee be compensated? What kind of benefits are available for care leave?

Sickness benefit:

In order to reduce the risk of people going to work when sick, reducing the personal cover of employees and thus limit the spread of COVID-19 disease, the procedure for compensating the sick leaves will temporarily change between January 1, 2021 and April 30, 2021. The employee co-pay covers the first day of illness, the employer covers the compensation from the second to the fifth day, and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays the compensation from the sixth day onwards.

The new procedure is valid for incapacity to work certificates starting from January 1, 2021. The procedure for care leave compensation does not change.

  • No compensation is paid for the first day of sick leave.

  • For sickness days 2 to 5, compensation will be paid by the employer based on average salary.

  • From day 6, the sickness compensation will be paid by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund on the basis of the daily income of the employee. The calculation is based on the data on social tax calculated or paid in the calendar year preceding the date of the beginning of the sick leave, which is obtained from the Tax and Customs Board.

  • the information on which the calculation is based can be accessed after the compensation has been received in the state portal

Read more about the sickness benefit.

Care allowance:

On the basis of the certificate for care leave, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund pays the care allowance for the first

  • 14 sickness days to a parent whose child under the age of 12 or disabled child under the age of 19 is sick;
  • 7 sickness days to the carer of other family members.

The allowance is 80% of the average wage of the person who has been issued the certificate for care leave. Income tax is withheld from the benefit.

Different rules for paying care allowance apply in the case of severe illness such as tumours.

Read more about care allowance.

More information can be received from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund telephone (+372) 669 6630.

During the emergency situation, people were given the opportunity to apply for incapacity to work certificate on medical grounds or for care leave via the patient portal website. After the emergency situation was ended on May 18, the medical leave certificate can be only issued by the doctor, so if you are sick or are caring for a sick family member, you must contact your family doctor in order to obtain the sick leave or care leave.

How is medical care guaranteed during the time of the virus if I have health insurance in Estonia but am currently in another European Union member state?

People who have health insurance in Estonia and are currently in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland will be given necessary medical care on equal terms with people living in those countries. Necessary medical care is guaranteed in the case of the coronavirus as well. The need for treatment must be medically justified and this decision is made by a doctor. In order to get necessary medical aid, a person has to carry a European Health Insurance Card or a replacement certificate of the card. If a person does not have the card with him or he has not applied for the European Health Insurance Card or its replacement certificate before the trip, we ask that he apply for a replacement certificate of the European Health Insurance Card immediately upon arriving at the hospital or a doctor. You can find more information at the web page of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund


Redundancies, unemployment, loss of income

In what cases is redundancy an option?

If it is clear that the situation will not improve and the employer is not able to provide work nor pay a reduced salary, redundancy is an option. Redundancy is an extraordinary termination of the work contract by the employer due to economic reasons, i.e. if following the agreed work conditions is impossible because of a reduced amount of work or the rearrangement of work. Redundancy also happens, when the employer terminates its operation or files for bankruptcy. The employer must present employees with a written termination notice and explain the reasons for termination.

The employer must follow announcement terms according to § 97 point 2 of the Employment Act. The terms are related to the length of the work contract. The employer must announce redundancy at the following times when the employment has been working for the employer:

  • less than one year – minimum 15 calendar days;
  • one to five years – minimum 30 calendar days;
  • five to ten years – minimum 60 calendar days;
  • ten and more years – minimum 90 calendar days.

The employer must consider that if the termination is announced with disregard of these terms, the employer must pay compensation. In that case the employer will have to pay the average salary for the work days that are within the announcement term that was disregarded. If the work contract ends due to redundancy the employer must pay a redundancy compensation of one month’s average salary in addition to final salary.

Where can I register as unemployed and apply for an unemployment insurance allowance or an unemployment benefit?

If you wish to register as unemployed and apply for an unemployment insurance allowance or for an unemployment benefit, we recommend submitting your application using our online services Applications will be accepted via e-mail (digitally signed), regular post, or telephone, and in the offices.

Applications for work ability assessment and work capability allowance can also be submitted at the website, e-mail (digitally signed), regular post, or in the offices of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. If necessary, the Unemployment Insurance Fund will forward the application documentation by post.

Please note! If you submit your application by e-mail, sign it digitally.

For further information:

Where to find help for a person working under a contract for services whose work has currently stopped and who has no income?

If the work of a person working under a contract for services has stopped (the contract has not been terminated but there is no income), we recommend that he apply for a subsistence benefit from the local municipality.

However, if this person's contract for services has been terminated, this person has the right to apply for an unemployment benefit and an unemployment insurance benefit from the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund if he has

  1. worked at least 12 months out of the last 36 months
  2. with a contract under the law of obligations and
  3. lost his job now.

How can § 37 of the Employment Contract Act be used for the reduction of salary for three months, due to economic circumstances beyond the employer’s control?

The spread of the coronavirus is one of the unforeseen circumstances that allow the employer to reduce the workload and the salary of the employee for three months over a twelve-month period unilaterally according to § 37 of the Employment Contract Act if paying the agreed salary is an unreasonably heavy burden for the employer. If the employer has already reduced the employee's salary for three months, then further unilateral reduction is not possible (e.g. if the salary was reduced in April, May and June, then until April 2021 the employer's salary cannot be reduced).

This has been stipulated under § 37 of the Employment Contract Act.

It is permitted to reduce the salary to the minimum wage as determined by the Government of Estonia (584 Euros per month or 3.48 Euros per hour) under the following conditions:

  • If the employer is unable to provide work to the employee as previously agreed due to economic circumstances (this doesn’t include seasonal changes in amount of work);

  • If payment of the agreed salary is an unreasonable burden on the employer. It is not permitted to reduce the salary if the employer does not have enough work for the employee to do, but still has enough liquidity to pay the salary; in this case it is interpreted that there is no real need to reduce the salary.

Please find additional information from the Employment Contract Act:

How will § 37 of the Employment Act be implemented in the case of salary reduction? Can the employee terminate the work contract?

In order to reduce the salary, the employer must first verify whether they could offer alternative tasks to the employee.

If there is no alternative work, or the employee does not agree to the alternative work, the employer must inform the trustee of the employees, or in case there is no trustee the employees directly, at least fourteen days in advance. The employer will prepare a notice where they list the new wages, work load and the period during which the reduced wages and workload will persist. Please note the content of the notification from the web portal Tööelu:

Employees are given an opportunity to be involved in the decision. The employees must present their opinion to the employer within seven calendar days as of receiving the notification.

If the employees do not agree to a reduced salary, the employees have the right to terminate their labour contract, informing their employer at least five working days in advance. The contract must come to an end before the reduced wages will take effect. In the event of termination of the labour contract, the employee will receive one month’s average salary as compensation, in addition to the contractual final pay, which consists of earned salary and unused vacation benefits. Please find additional information about the contract termination from the web portal Tööelu:

How does the state intend to solve the problem of compensation for unemployed Members of the Management Board and for employees working based on the contracts under the Law of Obligations Act?

Indeed, the unemployment benefit is only available for persons:

  • Who have worked for at least 12 months over the last 36 month period.
  • Who have been employed under the Law of Obligations Act.
  • Who have currently lost their job.

A contract under the Law of Obligations Act may be, for example, and authorisation agreement or contract for services agreement.

The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund does not compensate the employer for the remuneration of a person working under Law of Obligations Act.

If a person working under a Law of Obligations Act contract no longer has a job, they can:

  1. Register themselves as unemployed.
  2. Apply for unemployment insurance allowance or unemployment benefit

NB! Provisions should be made for situations when the work carried out under an authorisation agreement or under a contract for services agreement, corresponds to the characteristics of work performed under an employment contract. In this case, it may be possible, in agreement with the employer, to convert this kind of contract into an employment contract. Once an agreement has been reached, the employer and the employee must sign the employment contract in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act and make appropriate changes to the Employment Register. The actual starting time of the employment relationship must be taken into account when converting the contract. Of course, in this case the taxes on labour have to be considered.


Last updated: 28 September 2020