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At today’s remote-participation sitting, the Riigikogu passed an Act enabling to enter into more flexible employment contracts in retail.

The new regulation is based on the agreement of goodwill entered into between the Estonian Trade Union of Commercial and Servicing Employees, the Estonian Traders’ Association, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation, the Estonian Employers’ Confederation and the Ministry of Social Affairs, which is piloting the use of variable hours agreements in retail.

In the retail sector, it is often necessary to change work schedules or to increase workload temporarily, which gives rise to the need to enter into contracts under the law of obligations when the volume of work increases temporarily. Under a variable hours agreement, the employee can work additionally up to eight hours per seven-day period in addition to their usual working time. Variable hours agreements enable employers to engage more labour force part-time and flexibly, thereby providing work for more people and ensuring them greater protection with an employment contract as compared to a contract under the law of obligations.

A variable hours agreement can be entered into with an employee who works part-time 12 hours or more over a seven-day period and whose hourly wage is at least 1.2 times the minimum hourly wage. Under a variable hours agreement, the employee can work additionally up to eight hours per seven-day period in addition to their usual working time. The agreement must be concluded in writing. All variable hours that an employer can offer within the framework of the new agreement are voluntary and are agreed upon separately. Regular working hours and variable hours in total must not exceed full-time.

The Bill provides that the employer can enter into a variable hours agreement with up to 17.5 per cent of its employees, that is, retail employers who have at least six employees can use this possibility.

The variable hours agreements regulation is established for a specified term and it will be in force for 2.5 years. The amendments have been established for a specified term because this will enable their impacts to be assessed before the end of the period, as a result of which it will be possible to decide whether it will be expedient to extend the conclusion of variable hours agreements or to expand it to other sectors as well.

During the debate, Marek Jürgenson (Reform Party) took the floor.

74 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act and the Taxation Act (403 SE), and there were two abstentions.

Two draft Resolution and one Bill were dropped from the proceedings

Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic” (434 OE), submitted by the Social Democratic Party Faction.

The draft Resolution was intended to make a proposal to the Government to allocate means to the local governments for creating and implementing bicycle strategies in the state budget for 2022. The explanatory memorandum of the draft Resolution points out that the number of people using bicycles and electric scooters for daily mobility is increasing, but people moving at different speeds on narrow paths often cause dangerous traffic situations. The explanatory memorandum also says that in order to reduce the ecological footprint and increase people’s physical activity, it would be reasonable to establish separate and safe lanes for cyclists and users of personal transporters.

Raimond Kaljulaid took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction in the debate.

15 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the draft Resolution, two were against, and there was one abstention. For the draft Resolution to be passed, at least 51 members of the Riigikogu should have voted for it, thus the Resolution was not passed.

Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making proposals to the Government of the Republic to reduce the price rise for electricity” (429 OE), submitted by the Faction Isamaa.

The draft provides that, in order to mitigate the increase of electricity price, the renewable energy charge to consumers has to be cancelled and the renewable energy charges to producers should be covered as a state budget allocation from the revenue of CO2 emission quotas. Therefore, a proposal was made to the Government to initiate a relevant Bill. Besides that, a proposal is made to the Government to draw up the State Budget for 2022 Bill in such a way that its revenues would not foresee an increase in the current rates of excise duties on fuel and electricity.

During the debate, Jürgen Ligi took the floor on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, Heiki Hepner on behalf of Faction Isamaa and Peeter Ernits on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction.

26 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the draft Resolution and two voted against. For the draft Resolution to be passed, at least 51 members of the Riigikogu should have voted for it, thus the Resolution was not passed.

Bill on Amendments to the Language Act (463 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Tarmo Kruusimäe, Heiki Hepner, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Raivo Tamm, Üllar Saaremäe, Mihhail Lotman and Sven Sester.

The explanatory memorandum states that the Bill would enable the Language Inspectorate to exercise supervision over compliance with the Language Act more effectively. In order that the Language Inspectorate would have the possibility to better and more efficiently perform the activities assigned to it and at the same time motivate the legal persons to require Estonian language skills from their employees, the Bill intended to raise the upper limit for the relevant penalty payment from 640 euro to 6400 euro

During the debate, Jaak Valge (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa), Martin Repinski (Centre Party) and Eduard Odinets (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 40 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 20 voted against. Thus, the motion was supported and the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
Phone: +372 631 6592, +372 510 6179
E-mail: merilin.kruuse@riigikogu.ee
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

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