New legislative changes mean that employers in Estonia cannot bar employees from working for other employers, weekly Maaleht reports, though they can take steps to both prevent an employee from working for a competitor and to address work performance issues arising from moonlighting.
Following a reader's question to the weekly and which appeared on its website, (link in Estonian), which asked whether an employer could forbid a staff member who was working out of hours for a ride-hailing service from doing so on the grounds that the ensuing fatigue was causing issue with work performance levels, working environment consultant at the Labor Inspectorate (Tööinspektsion) Piret Kaljula wrote in response that this could only be the case if the staff member's contract contained a clause to the effect that they could not work for a competing employer.
While many work contracts may contain such a clause, a provision in legislation was expressly added to the Employment Contracts Act as of August 1, more precisely in § 23(1)), which states that an employer may not prohibit an employee from working for another employer unless the parties have concluded a non-competition agreement – though this would only pertain to employers engaged in the same economic or professional field.
Another piece of relevant legislation is the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which dictates that responsibility rests with an employee working for multiple employers to ensure that their activities do not lead to issues such as fatigue or other problems which could endanger both their own health and that of their colleagues and others, Kaljula wrote.
Kaljula also noted that while the desire to work longer hours or for more than one employer was understandable in the current economic situation, the risk of overwork was certainly worth considering as its negative effects can be difficult or costly to address later one.
As to solutions from the employer's perspective, a friendly chat whereby the employer informs the employee of their expectation that the latter be able to concentrate on their work during working hours should precede any warning, which should be written or in a format which would permit written presentation at a later date if needed and which should clearly state both what employee's violations had been and what the consequences would be if these violations and related behavior were to continue.
If the necessary steps are not taken, including if necessary reducing the volume of additional work the employee carries out for the alternative employer, and if the out-of-hours work is continuing to negatively impact work performance with the employer addressing the issue, the latter can then terminate the employment relationship on the grounds that the employee violated work obligations, despite warnings, Kaljula wrote.
The original Maaleht piece (in Estonian) is here.
Maaleht is published by Ekspress Meedia, also responsible for investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress, news portal Delfi, daily Eesti Päevaleht and other publications in Estonia/Estonian.
Editor: Andrew Whyte