The Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to the interpellation concerning the occupational accident and occupational disease insurance (No. 229), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Dmitri Dmitrijev, Kadri Simson, Marika Tuus-Laul, Kersti Sarapuu, Valeri Korb, Vladimir Velman, Andrei Novikov, Tarmo Tamm, Rein Ratas, Olga Ivanova, Erki Savisaar, Anneli Ott, Aadu Must, Viktor Vassiljev, Peeter Ernits and Mailis Reps on 1 June.
The interpellators referred to the peculiarity of Estonia that the number of minor and serious occupational accidents registered is smaller compared with the number of fatal occupational accidents. A situation has arisen where many employers are not interested in making efforts to create a healthy working environment, nor are they actually motivated to do so, and employees have been deprived of their rights provided by the law.
The interpellators wished to know what the Government had done to solve the problems.
Ossinovski totally agreed with the interpellators that the system needs changing, because it is no longer adequate in its current state and does not motivate employers to prevent occupational accidents and occupational diseases. “On the other hand, indeed, when occupational accidents and occupational diseases are recorded, often the state covers the costs,” the Minister said. “The concern is actually even greater insofar as, in today’s system, the weaker party to the employment relationship, that is, employee, is poorly protected against the risk of occupational disease and occupational accident. Therefore, when relevant health damage has appeared, recourse must be had to the court in order to receive relevant compensation.”
Ossinovski said that the Government is planning to do something and has already done something. According to his explanations, the study “The Occupational Disability Compensation System in Estonia and International Comparison” was commissioned from Praxis Centre for Policy Studies in 2015. The study discusses this issue in depth and brings forth similar shortcomings in a large picture. “We have also introduced this study to social partners and interest groups. The authors of the study propose to increase the responsibility of employers in covering the costs of occupational diseases and occupational accidents. This would include creating the necessary motivation stimuli so that enterprises, employers would be interested in investing into a more secure working environment.”
Ossinovski noted that the Government has agreed on a two-stage reform. The first stage of the work ability reform has been finally implemented as of 1 July this year, and significant financial resources are invested into it to help people whose capacity for work has been damaged. In addition to that, a second stage of the work ability reform will be launched which will specifically aim to prevent health damages and to try to create a system where employers would be motivated, also financially motivated, to contribute to secure working environments.
During the open microphone, Marika Tuus-Laul, Heimar Lenk, Märt Sults, Viktor Vassiljev and Peeter Ernits took the floor.
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