Employers Confederation worried about government's 'protracted decisions' ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETTK) managing director Arto Aas.
Estonian Employers' Confederation (ETTK) managing director Arto Aas. Source: ERR

The Estonian Employers' Confederation has said the steps of the government as part of a second wave of measures related to the coronavirus have been delayed and will submit proposals to the state for sector-based supporting of business.

Arto Aas, manager of the Estonian Employers' Confederation (Tööandjate Keskliit), said on Tuesday: "Employers are worried about protracted decisions and hectic legislative practice on the level of the state. The accumulation of indecision and non-transparency of processes may undermine the recovery of the Estonian economy and the competitive ability of business."

Aas named the tourism and construction sectors as those needing support measures by the state most urgently. According to the Estonian Employers' Confederation, a rapid solution has to be found for saving the tourism sector by means of extending precisely targeted wage support or other measures to preserve critical services and competences until the spring.

The confederation also finds an increase in orders by the state to be vital for the construction sector.

"It rather pays for the state to invest and give work now than pay the unemployment allowance later," the association said.

Aas said that representatives of employers took part in the work of a panel of experts established with the office of the prime minister, where they provided gave an input to help the government make decisions necessary for supporting the economy. 

"It is a justified expectation of employers that these are taken into account in the negotiations on the state budget for 2021," Aas said.

"Let us recall that the government has promised to employees tax peace, which must be adhered to also in the present difficult time. We are against placing hidden obligations upon employers, the newest example of which is the proposal for additional compensation of employees for sick days," he said. 

He said that decisions must be negotiated with employers and adequate impact assessments carried out.

According to Aas, business operators are also concerned about an onslaught of protectionism in Europe, including in Estonia.

The association finds that in addition to short-term crisis measures, Estonia should invest in solutions which create higher value-added in the longer term. For this, research and development activities, innovation, digitalization, and investments in green technology must be supported to a greater extent than has been the case to date.

Healthcare union: Employees must get paid for sick leave from day 1

The Estonian Union of Healthcare Professionals has issued an appeal to the government urging that employees be paid for sick days starting from the first day of absence from work, as economic considerations should not be allowed to force a person to go to work when ill.  

Livi Luik, president of the Estonian Union of Healthcare Professionals, said in the appeal: "An important measure for restricting the spread of the virus has not been implemented. The state abolished the restrictions in schools, cinemas and theaters to restore an environment as normal as possible, hoping for our people's understanding and caring for themselves and one another. It is essential to take concrete steps in order for as big as possible a number of people to be vaccinated in the future."

The head of the professional association said that the health of employees is a priority which ensures the sustainable functioning of the economy.

"Healthy employees are the biggest asset of every business. In the event of illness, employees must be provided with a period of recovery that is as safe as possible economically," Luik said. 

"Economic coping cannot and must not be a reason for going to work when ill. Anyone who feels symptoms of illness or indications of a virus should immediately stay at home to restrict the potential spread of the virus and a massive increase in the number of cases of the illness. The less there is stress, the healthier are the people. The Estonian Union of Healthcare Professionals considers it essential that the payment of sick leave compensation from day one of illness is introduced as soon as possible," Luik said. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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