Officials salaries grow by 10.7 percent, top 3 earners make more than PM

Director-General Valdur Laid of the Tax and Customs Board was Estonia's top-paid official in 2018.
Director-General Valdur Laid of the Tax and Customs Board was Estonia's top-paid official in 2018. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The average salary of state officials increased by 10.7 percent in 2018 to €1,754, with top earners making well over €6,000 a month, getting paid more than the prime minister.

The salary of officials at the national level increased by 9.2 percent to €1,750, while the salary of local government officials increased by 16.7 percent to €1,769, data of the Ministry of Finance shows.

Tax Board and Health Insurance Board directors both make more than PM

One should keep in mind that these are averages, carried to a large extent by some sizeable mid-level and top-level officials' salaries. The best paid Estonian official in 2018 was Valdur Laid, director-general of the Tax and Customs Board, at a gross basic income of €6,500 per month. Laid is followed by his counterpart at the Health Insurance Board, Egon Veermäe, who rakes in €6,300 per month, and Chief Justice Villem Lapimaa with €6,245.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) is in fourth place, with €6,168 gross per month.

State salaries rose across the board in 2018, with a 2.7-percent increase allowed for most of them. The salaries of some positions in the field of internal security, e.g. at the Police and Border Guard Board and the Rescue Board as well as the Prison Service, increased by 4.5 percent.

While some raises were long overdue or affected areas that in recent years had suffered from budget cuts, e.g. the police and rescue services, others will be harder to justify. Both Laid and Veermäe were already among the top five earners last year, but in 2018 were granted raises of €700 (Laid) and €900 (Veermäe) per month anyway.

All state officials taken together, the average salary stood at €1,588 gross on April 1, 2019, having grown by 8.8 percent year on year.

Officials may receive variable pay in addition to basic salary

According to Estonian law, officials may be paid up to an additional 20 percent of their basic salary in addition to the latter. The extent to which this was done, on average, reached 5.8 percent at the national level and 5.7 percent at the local government level last year.

This hints at a growth of 0.6 percent in this category at the national level and a 2 percentage-point drop at the local government level in variable pay.

In 2018, 132,415 people worked in the Estonian public sector, which is roughly 20 percent of all of the country's employed persons. Of the former, a total of 116,224, or roughly 17.5 percent of Estonia's total employed persons, worked in the government sector.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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