Reform Party: Foreign workers could stay in Estonia until end of year

Strawberry pickers.
Strawberry pickers. Source: ERR

The parliamentary group of the Reform Party submitted to the Riigikogu a bill with which citizens of other countries who were here before the start of the coronavirus crisis can continue to work in Estonia until the end of the year.

The bill would extend the work permits of citizens of other countries working in Estonia as of March 17 until December 31.

"Despite rising unemployment, the are also structural labor shortages across Europe in the crisis. Restrictions on movement and quarantine requirements have led to a situation in which countries are making extraordinary efforts to recruit and charter flights are organized for short-term labor. The least that Estonia needs to quickly do is to extend the work permits of the existing workforce," Reform Party MP Jürgen Ligi, who submitted the bill, said.

"In Estonia, the labor shortage is especially acute for seasonal agricultural work. To solve this, our bill enables to use the foreign workforce already in Estonia but working in other fields," former rural affairs minister Urmas Kruuse added.

According to the bill's explanatory memorandum, the amendment does not mean that the increasing supply of labor would meet the demand exactly, a large part of the existing employees will leave Estonia without finding employment, and part of the need will be covered by local labor.

"On the other hand, Estonia and the European Union must focus on restoring the normal movement of labor so that the economy can recover. In addition to agriculture, construction, industry, social welfare and other areas are also facing labor shortages," it is said in the explanatory memorandum.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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