In a bid to stem the use of illegal labor, the Ministry of the Interior is planning on making the use of illegal labor a criminal offense, increasing fines for businesses, enabling the imposition of prohibitions on business and engaging in enterprise on business operators alongside the compulsory dissolution of a business and its removal from public procurements.
While current legislation allows for the punishment of an employer for enabling employment to a foreigner staying in Estonia without a legal basis under a misdemeanor procedure, or pursuant to criminal law in the event of aggravating circumstances, the amendments proposed by the ministry would also hold the employer responsible for enabling employment to a foreigner staying in Estonia on a legal basis if the conditions of the employment of a foreigner set out in the Aliens Act, including the pay criterion, are not fulfilled.
In accordance with one proposal, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) would be entitled to seek from a court the compulsory dissolution of a legal person which has systemically enabled employment to a foreigner staying in Estonia without a legal basis or has paid lower wages to a foreigner than set out by law. It would also be possible to apply a prohibition on business to the owners of such companies as well.
The amendments would make the enabling of the violation of the conditions of the employment of a foreigner as set out in the Aliens Act a criminal offense, and a prohibition on engaging in enterprise could likewise be applied to the owners of companies found guilty of such an offense.
The proposed amendments would also increase the maximum size of a fine for a legal person for a misdemeanor from the current €3,200 to €10,000.
In addition, the changes would allow for the removal of a tenderer from a public procurement procedure if the tenderer has been punished for enabling the violation of the conditions of the employment of a foreigner in Estonia or the tenderer lists such a company as its subcontractor.
In the past three years, Estonia has registered a 462 percent increase in the number of foreigners working in the country illegally — from 68 cases in 2013 to 382 last year. The number of misdemeanor procedures initiated against employers over cases of illegal employment likewise grew 115 percent, from 39 cases in 2013 to 84 cases last year.
242 illegal migrant labor-related breaches related to Ukrainian citizens were detected in Estonia last year, with another 73 such cases related to Belarusian citizens and 16 to Moldovan citizens.
Editor: Aili Vahtla