New rules for hiring third-country workers submitted to government

New rules to help bring foreign labor to Estonia and help the IT industry recruit have been agreed upon by the ministries of interior and economic affairs.

The new rules affect the Aliens Act and the hiring of highly-skilled workers from outside the European Union.

Laura Laaster, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, told ERR on Thursday: "The proposals will be discussed by the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu in the near future. Our goal is for the law to enter into force in 2023."

The proposals cover three areas.

The first is to reduce the minimum salary requirement which currently means a specialist must earn twice the average Estonian salary. This will be reduced to 1.5 times the salary.

Sutt said Estonia's average salary is growing every year and is the highest in the IT sector.

"But specialists are also needed in other areas where the average salary is not comparable to the salary level in the IT sector, such as the machinery industry, energy and the financial sector," he said.

Secondly, the period of temporary employment will be extended from one to three years by adding a two-year residence permit.

"A two-year residence permit will allow an alien working in Estonia to continue working here if the employer has been reliable, has paid both the salary and the tax correctly and wants to continue the employment relationship," Sutt said.

Third, the government wants to make it easier for fast-growing technology companies to attract foreign workers. 

This rule will apply to companies operating in Estonia for at least 10 years, have at least 50 employees and paid at least one million euros in labor taxes the previous year. Additionally, the company's labor taxes must have increased by at least 20 percent over the last three years.

The minister said 21 companies will qualify for this measure in the coming years and it is estimated to create 12,000 new jobs and generate at least €160 million per year.

"At the current growth rate, start-ups will already account for 30 percent of Estonia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030," said Sutt.

He said technology and industrial companies should be encouraged to operate in Estonia and contribute to the economy.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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