Foreign workers can be employed in agricultural sector until July 31

Produce at a market.
Produce at a market. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The governing coalition has supported a proposal extending the right to work in Estonia until July 31 for third-country nationals (non-EU citizens) who were in Estonia as of March 17 and whose employer's main field of activity is agriculture.

The amendment would be added to the legislative package drafted for combating COVID-19, which has already been forwarded to the Riigikogu.

The right to employment until July 31 is conditional on an employer active in agriculture wishing to hire such a person, and their registering the employment of the person with the Police and Border Guard Board. After the end of the period, such individuals would have one more month to leave Estonia, which must happen by August 31 at the latest.  

Due to the restrictions on entry to Estonia, the Police and Border Guard Board currently only handles those applications for the registration of short-term employment of a foreigner that concern foreign nationals who are in Estonia already.

The Police and Border Guard Board is not handling applications concerning the short-term employment of foreigners who are currently abroad and wish to arrive in Estonia, as due to the emergency situation such persons will not be allowed into Estonia even if they have a visa or the right to visa-free stay in Estonia. 

Those foreigners working in Estonia under rules of short-term employment whose period of employment expires, and who are not employed in agriculture, will have no right to work in Estonia.

Such foreigners must leave Estonia at the earliest opportunity. If that is not possible due to the closed borders, they can continue to stay in Estonia and must leave within ten days after the end of the emergency situation the latest. 

To get home, such people are advised to approach their embassy to learn about the possibilities for leaving Estonia. Also, former employers are requested to help foreigners return to their home country after the termination of an employment relationship. 

According to law, foreigners, meaning third-country nationals, can work under the short-term employment arrangement in Estonia for up to 12 months within a period of 15 months under general conditions and for up to nine months within a period of 12 months in the case of seasonal work.

Regarding foreign workers currently in Estonia, employers can file an application for the registration of short-term employment in whatever field provided that the maximum period of the person's short-term employment in Estonia has not yet expired. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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