Estonian businesses' need for foreign labor has not decreased, but rather increased over the years. According to Margo Peters, head of Border and Migration Services at the West Prefecture of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the number of people interested in coming to work in Estonia has increased some tenfold within just a few years.
In 2017, some 3,000 applications were submitted to come work in Estonia; by now, that number has reached over 35,000, Peters told ERR, noting that this figure consists primarily of Ukrainians. Police are verifying whether companies have registered their foreign employees, however, and fines for violations are high.
"If a foreigner is left unregistered by a company with the employment register and the PPA, then in accordance with the Aliens Act, this may be fined up to €32,000," Peters said. "As far as I know, no one has been fined the maximum, but fines have reached €12,000-16,000, so pretty high amounts."
In addition to the company itself, the foreigner who has worked unauthorized is fined as well, although these personal fines are smaller — a maximum of €1,200 or detention.
A company not paying a foreign employee their prescribed monthly wages is in itself a violation as well, Peters stressed.
"In accordance with the Aliens Act, if someone is employed under general rules, the employer is obliged to pay them €1,310 per month, which is the current average wage in Estonia," he explained. "Although that may increase in March. In this case, if an employer has not paid this wage, the fine is likewise up to €32,000."
By signing off on hiring a foreigner, the employer has agreed to pay these wages.
In order to make it easier and even slightly less expensive for employers to register their employees, it is now possible to do so online on the PPA's homepage at politsei.ee. When applying via mail or email, the state fee is €55, however if you apply online, the state fee is slightly lower at €48.
Editor: Aili Vahtla