Court tells employers to pay workers in Finland at least Finnish minimum wages

29.01.2013, 10:33

Estonian Supreme Court ruled in the middle of January that Estonian employees sent to Finland must receive wages that are provided in Finnish collective agreement or, if there is no such agreement, reasonable standard wages, writes Äripäev.

This ruling is going to affect many Estonian employers because it is taking away their competitive advantage.

The Supreme Court made its ruling in the dispute where two employees of Estonian company WKSM Grupp Ltd who worked in Finland from 2010 to 2011 for 8 euros a hour had their employment contracts terminated, but the company refused to pay them overtime and calculated them less wage than what is prescribed by the collective agreement that applies on Finnish construction workers. The Supreme Court found that since the workers were dispatched to Finland, they must be guaranteed  minimum wages as applicable in Finland in the amount of 10.3 and 11.3 euros an hour, depending on the qualification.

Niina Siitam, head of the labour relations department of the Labour Inspectorate, says that Estonian employer who sends his or her employee to a foreign country must ensure that the workers has similar working and rest time, salary, overtime compensation and basic leave as in the country of destinations.

“Many Estonian employers are ignoring these requirements. The Supreme Court has said now that if an Estonian employer sends a construction worker to Finland, he must pay him or her similar wages than what is received by Finnish builders.”

Siitam said that the Supreme Court ruling should make it clear to employers that they cannot simply lay down the terms with which the worker must agree to, but must comply with the law.

Andres Aavik, CEO of Skanska in Estonia, says that whenever Skanska sends an employee to Finland, his or her working terms comply with the requirements of local trade unions. Aavik said that it was cheaper for the company to send to Finland an employee from Estonia because Estonians are not so rigid about their working time or salary. “It’s about flexibility and efficiency.”

“Even if you pay Finnish minimum wages to the Estonian workers, it will still be 20 to 30% less expensive than to have a Finnish specialist,” said Aavik.