Pay rise in new year for administrative staff in ministries

Estonia's annual Victory Day parade in Kuressaare on the island of Saareamaa.
Estonia's annual Victory Day parade in Kuressaare on the island of Saareamaa. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

There has been a lot of talk about culture workers and the pay rises that await them in the ministry of culture, but many other officials and staff in ministries will also get pay rises in the new year.

Next year, the payroll budget for ministries' departments will increase by €110 million, accounting for five to six percent of the national budget. However, given the current state of inflation, it is unlikely that the public sector will be the driving force behind wage increases, Tanel Ross, the strategy adviser to the Ministry of Finance, said.

"Looking at the country as a whole, the government and the ministry of finance have anticipated an increase in the wage bill in the national budget, but it is not likely to be very large or fast. I also believe that we should adopt a reasonably 'austere' approach as a nation," Ross added.

Ross said that it is up to the ministries to decide how the five percent will be distributed across the government departments - which funds belong to the ministry and which funds go to the sub-departments. For example, the Ministry of Social Affairs is using the enhanced salary fund specifically to raise severely out-of-date salaries.

"We have advised the heads of the agencies that the size of the wage fund should be about this amount, but that it should not be distributed piecemeal among everyone. Rather, the wage increase, which may be more than five percent in some cases, should be given to those employees who have truly received lower wages than those on the labor market. However, these are the types of personal decisions that each institution's head must make in his or her own workplace, and the ministry provides no more further directives," Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs Maarjo Mändmaa explained.

The Ministry of the Interior has decided to raise pay across the board. This will mean pay rises for riot police officers and frontline rescuers, as well as for people in senior positions. In January, for instance, the director of the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) will receive a basic salary of €6,400, while the director general of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) will receive €7,000 per month.

"If we look at the salaries of other state agencies, then we see, for instance, that the salary of the head of the Transport Administration (Transpordiamet) is €7,500 and the salary of the head of the Information System Authority (RIA) is €6,900. However, the PPA is one of the largest agencies in Estonia, and next year the salary of the head of this agency would actually be lower than the salaries of the heads of other smaller agencies," Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said.

Läänemets said that the salary levels of managers in the administration of the ministry are also directly linked to the responsibility that comes with the position.

"The fact that these people have all been in charge of crisis management or have participated in crisis management at a specialist level is another explanation for the significant salary increase at the Ministry of the Interior. Moreover, if we take the police and rescue services, the sheer amount of responsibilities that have been assigned to them and that the government intends to assign to them is enormous. The social expectation is that we will complete 30 years of undone work in the following ten or fifteen years," Läänemets explained.

Ross went on to say that public officials' salaries should be adjusted and that people's work should be valued, adding that "the public sector faces the dilemma of having to pay employees fairly, but this is highly dependent on the amount of taxes collected."


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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