Tallink companies receive €7.7 million in COVID-19 wage support scheme

Tallink City Hotel in Central Tallinn.
Tallink City Hotel in Central Tallinn. Source: AS Tallink Grupp

Tallink Group has received €7.7 million so far in a wage support scheme set up by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Estonia's two largest private media groups have each also received over €1 million from the same fund.

Breakdown of Tallink companies

  • 465 Tallink Group employees were covered with compensation totallin €1.1 million since the scheme began in early April.
  • Of the above, 267 employees at TLG Hotell, which operates Tallink's hotels, were granted €474,000 from the fund, and €375,000 covered 180 employees of Tallink Duty Free stores, including those on board ship.
  • OÜ Hansaliin, a shipping service company which is part of the Tallink Group, received the largest sum – its 1,824 employees have received €4.2 million under the scheme.
  • HT Laevateenidus, which also provides services and belongs to Tallink Group, saw 523 employees receive €1.3 million in support.
  • Other smaller Tallink Group concerns whose staff have been covered by the scheme (all under €100,000 each) are: Baltic retail, TLG Stividor, Baan Thai (a catering firm), Tallink Takso, HT Meelelahutus, Tallink Travel Club and Tallink Fast Food. Tallink is Estonian franchisee for Burger King, which recently entered the Estonian market.

Wage compensation scheme details

The wage compensation scheme was unveiled in early April following the emergency situation which the government installed in response to the pandemic.

The scheme is not unemployment benefit as such, even though it is channeled via the unemployment fund, but rather props up wages of those who might other wise be laid off.

The scheme was aimed at helping those companies most heavily affected by the virus' spread, including those involved in transport and tourism, as borders closed.

Companies must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Turnover or income must have declined by at least 30 percent on year in April and May.
  • For June 30 percent of a company's staff must be working to a wage 30 percent less than their agreed amount or at minimum wage.
  • The scheme was originally rolled out for two months but extended to June.
  • Payment is up to 70 percent of a staff member's wage or €1,000, whichever is lower.
  • Monies came via the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa).

Tallink Group's Hansalliin employed nearly 1,900 people in 2019; last week it issued a notice that it was laying off 190 people.

Two major private media companies also receiving support

Estonia's two major private media companies have also made use of the wage support scheme.

Postimees Group, which publishes the daily of the same name and its regional variants, as well as operating TV and radio channels, has received salary compensation to the tune of €1.3 million for 555 staff members.

In total UP Invest, Postimees Group's parent company, has received €2.2 million under the scheme.

Postimees Group companies to have benefited include book chain Apollo Kauplus, whose just 96 employees have been supported with €138,000, and cinema chain Apollo Kino (86 staff, €126,000).

Ekspress Group, which publishes daily Eesti Päevaleht and weeklies Eesti Ekspress and Maaleht, was granted €1.1 million.

The breakdown saw 315 staff members at Ekspress Meedia being supported with €761,000, printing firm Printall getting €342,000 and outdoor advertising screens company Linna Ekraanid receiving €21,000.

Additionally, Ekspress Group owns around a 50 percent stake in Õhtuleht Krijastus, which operates newspaper Õhtuleht, as well as Babahh Meedia, a video content provider, and Kinnisvarakeskkond real estate company, whose employees together received a total of €455,000 euros in compensation from the fund.

Other firms to have significantly used the scheme include car safety systems manufacturer Norma, whose 870 employees have been supported by €1.8 million in benefits since early April, and taxi hailing app Bolt, whose 526 staff members have been supported to €1.4 million over the same period.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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