Interest in youth under the age of 15 in gaining work experience and employers' willingness to offer young people work have increased significantly in Estonia since last year, the Labour Inspectorate said.
As of July 8, the Labour Inspectorate had received 990 notices regarding a total of 3,500 children under 15 years of age working, up from 2,708 on year.
Some 550 businesses in Estonia currently offer work to children.
According to Labour Inspectorate Deputy Director General Meeli Miidla-Vanatalu, the legislative amendment introduced two years ago had a significant impact on the activeness of children and young people on the labor market.
"For two years already, the permission of the Labour Inspectorate has not been required to hire a person under 15 years of age," Miida-Vanatalu said. "One just has to submit information regarding a young person to the employment register ten days prior to their start date."
Youth aged 13-14 may work no more than seven hours per day, she added.
"Last year, this increased young people's interest in employment as well as employers' interest in hiring them," the official continued. "This year, the number of young people in employment has increased further."
She stressed that even when a child is hired, a parent remains responsible for ensuring their child's well-being.
"A parent's consent is required for allowing a minor, including a person of 16 or 17 years of age, to work," Miidla-Vanatalu said. "The parent must familiarize themselves with the child's future work conditions, including how many hours the youth will work, their work hours, their duties at work, and so on."
An employment contract entered into without a parent's consent is considered void.
The Labour Inspectorate will check on the basis of the employment registry data whether the work in question is suitable for a young person. If suspicions arise to the contrary, a lawyer will contact the employer in question, seeking opportunities to adjust the workplace or work conditions to make them more suitable for a young person. If the employer hasn't been contacted within ten days, it means that the inspector has given their consent and the child may be allowed to work.
According to Estonian law, an employer may enter into an employment contract with a minor of 13-14 years of age or a minor of 15-16 years of age subject to the obligation to attend school and allow them to work if the duties are simple and do not require any major physical or mental effort. Minors of 7-12 years of age are allowed to do light work in the field of culture, art, sports or advertising.
Editor: Aili Vahtla