Estonia plans to ease requirements for hiring foreign workers
Estonia is planning to reduce the threshold for the minimum required wage for leading employees, as well as to soften the rules for issuing residence permits to specialists undertaking short-term jobs. These innovations were proposed by Andres Sutt, the country’s Minister of Information Technology and Entrepreneurship. This set of new measures should solve the issue of acute labor shortages. It is planned that the bill will be submitted to the authorities before the end of this year.
According to Sutt, over the last 5 years, the number of workers aged 20 to 64 in Estonia will decrease by 31 thousand people. The minister calls for flexibility in the short term in hiring foreign skilled and highly qualified specialists.
The Sutta Initiative is supported by Marco Udras, Head of Legal Affairs at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In his opinion, in recent years, many new restrictions have been introduced that have made it difficult to recruit foreign specialists. Udras adds that entrepreneurs have long waited for these conditions to be eased up.
What is the situation like now?
At the moment, in Estonia, a residence permit for highly qualified work can be obtained by specialists with an above-average salary (you need to earn about 3,000 euros per month). Sutta suggests lowering this bar. He explains that the monthly salary in the country, after deducting taxes, should be at around 2,200-2,300 euros, if we take into account one and a half times the average level of the required salary.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has repeatedly stated that the current wage requirements create difficulties in hiring foreign workers. Udras proposes to reduce the existing threshold by a quarter so that more specialists can be hired. In his opinion, this will allow hundreds or even thousands of leading employees to find employment in Estonia every year. As a result, hiring foreign workers could generate millions of euros in taxes for the state treasury.
Andres Sutt also proposes to simplify the process of applying for a long-term residence permit for foreign short-term workers. At the moment, they can work with a permit for only a year, after which they need to return to their country in order to come back to Estonia in 3 months to get another job.
According to Rumet Syrmus, manager of the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, traveling from country to country every 12 months is a costly and time-consuming process that creates complications and bureaucratic trouble.
If Sutta’s proposal is approved, foreign workers will be able to apply for a two-year residence permit after their one-year visa expires.
During the first 10 months of this year, the Estonian police have registered over 27 thousand specialists for short-term jobs. They worked mainly in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.