Estonia's healthcare workers set for 20 percent minimum wage rise in April

Ambulance vehicles at the East Tallinn Central Hospital.
Ambulance vehicles at the East Tallinn Central Hospital. Source: Jürgen Randma/riigikantselei

The minimum hourly wage for healthcare workers in Estonia is set to rise by 20 percent from April 1. Under a collective agreement due to be signed on Friday, Estonia's healthcare workers will also see their hourly minimum wage increase by a further 10 percent from April 1, 2024.

On Tuesday, Estonia's healthcare workers reached an agreement with their employers on the terms of a new two-year collective agreement. Head of the Estonian Medical Association Jaan Sütt said, that from healthcare workers' perspective, the main benefit of the new collective agreement will be an increase in the minimum hourly wage.

Minimum hourly rates for healthcare workers will rise by 20 percent from April 1 this year, and then again by a further 10 percent a year later.

"In addition to that, the coefficients by which hourly pay is multiplied for both night and weekend work will also increase next year," said Sütt.

"The weekend premium has, until now, only applied to daytime hours. From next year it will apply around the clock throughout the weekend," he said.

"What is more important is, that in hospitals, as you know, many doctors are on house call. By law a person, who is on house call has to be paid 10 percent of their salary, but with the new collective agreement, this minimum will rise to 20 percent," said Sütt, noting that there are also other parts of the collective agreement, which relate to working practices.

The impact of the wage increase on the Estonian Health Insurance Fund's (EHIF -  Haigekassa/Tervisekassa) budget is estimated to be €114 million.

"The most difficult aspect of the negotiations so far has been finding cover for the (costs of the) Health Insurance Fund. The Health Insurance Fund's supervisory board approved this year's budget on Friday last week. These amounts were found, and that was the basis for the agreement we reached yesterday," said Sütt.

A third round of negotiations involving the public conciliator took place on Tuesday. Sütt admitted that, on this occasion the conciliator's help had been much needed.

"I believe that the conclusion of this agreement on Friday is very important and significant for all people working in the healthcare sector. But also, everyone in Estonia, because this collective agreement will also bring two years of harmony to the healthcare sector," said Sütt.

"Doctors, nurses, carers, and all other (healthcare) workers will be assured of maintaining decent levels of pay, which take into account the general rise in the cost of living," said Sütt.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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