More efficient resolution of labour disputes in Estonia

More cases to be resolved by labour dispute committee

Practice in recent years has highlighted the need to create uniform and modern regulation of the procedure for resolving labour disputes. The new regulation is intended to close gaps in the incomplete and outdated current regulation. Generally, the employee and employer may refer a dispute between them to the labour dispute committee (‘committee’) or to the court. The Labour Dispute Resolution Act sets the out-of-court procedure for resolution of disputes by the committee. The aim of the changes is to ensure a simple, speedy, cheap and efficient way to resolve disputes for both of the disputing parties.

The Act extends the competence of the committee and brings several significant changes. According to the Act, the committee can resolve disputes arising from a collective agreement in addition to individual disputes. The head of the committee will in future resolve labour disputes with the consent of the parties and in cases with a dispute value up to 6 400 euro by way of written proceedings. The Act also creates alternative possibilities for resolving disputes through conciliation procedure and compromise. If the conciliatory procedure does not bring results, the parties can resolve their labour dispute in ordinary proceedings in the committee or in court. The new regulation eliminates the current upper limit of 10 000 euro for financial claims resolved by the committee. The term for hearing claims will be extended from the current 30 to 45 calendar days in order to bring them closer to real time and to ensure higher quality of decisions by the committee. An appeal to the committee does not require a state fee as before, which ensures equal opportunities for employees and employers. At the end of the process all expenses are borne by the parties equally. If continuing their dispute in court, the parties can ask for reimbursement of expenses.

The Labour Dispute Resolution Act comes into force on 1 January 2018 and will replace the Individual Labour Dispute Resolution Act, which is valid until 31 December.

Source:; Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry news from 16 July 2017; Äripäev news from 29 August 2017

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