Top court on public servants' wage cut: MPs placed in a favorable position

Supreme Court Justice Ivo Pilving.
Supreme Court Justice Ivo Pilving. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Supreme Court of Estonia does not support slashing the salary advance of public servants by half and finds that the Finance Ministry has violated good legislative practice. The top court points out that the move would put MPs at an advantage, while the Constitution does not stand in the way of slashing the latter's expenses benefits.

"The bill would have extensive negative effects for the courts and prosecution, the rule of law in general. Stopping nominal growth of public servants' salaries, as presented in the bill, would see the real income of judges, advocates-general and assistants fall by ca 15 percent in the conditions of inflation by 2027," Ivo Pilving, acting chief justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in his feedback to the ministry.

The top court judge also points out that all other social guarantees of judges were abolished last decade (judges' pension, seniority bonuses etc.), which were said to be offset by stable indexation of salaries.

Pilving said that temporarily slashing the real wages of judges might be acceptable if similar measures would be applied to representatives of the legislative and executive branches.

He said that while the changes also concern ministers, their effect is much more profound for judges who are appointed for life, not to mention that ministers enjoy other professional benefits. The bill does not concern the salaries of MPs, while Pilving pointed out there is nothing stopping their expenses benefits from being cut.

The judge also finds that good legislative practice has not been observed as the bill lacks a proper effects analysis and the courts were left just a day in which to provide feedback.

Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform) last Friday sent out for approval a bill that aims to dial back the salary advance of top public servants.


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Editor: Urmet Kook, Marcus Turovski

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