Estonian government approves lowering minimum wage requirements for foreign employees
The Estonian government gave its nod on Thursday to amendments that would lower the minimum monthly pay requirements for foreign nationals working in Estonia on work permits.
In the proposal to make changes to two bills currently being handled by the Riigikogu, the Minister of the Interior said that the changes were aimed at encouraging and facilitating foreigners making a contribution to the development of Estonia's economic environment or easing the shortage of labor to remain in Estonia.
The Aliens Act as currently in force states that a foreign national working in Estonia on a work permit must be paid at least 1.24 times the national average wage of Estonia, which currently means a gross wage of at least 1,321 euros per month. In the event of short-term employment, the pay must be equal to at least the annual average gross monthly wage of the main area of activity of the employer, last published by Statistics Estonia, but not less than 1.24 times the national average wage.
In addition, the Ministry of the Interior is proposing to to exempt from the immigration quota foreign nationals who are seeking a residence permit as big investors.
In a comment issued after the government had endorsed the changes, Toomas Tamsar, manager of the Estonian Employers' Confederation, described the decision as a necessary step which, however, was only a half-measure, as it did not help sectors in which wages were lower than the national average wage.
"We can say that a step was taken, but [only] a halfway one, as it does not help sectors such as construction, service, tourism and some industry branches in which wages are lower than the average wage but where shortages of skilled workers are seriously hindering development," Tamsar commented.