Changes in the Estonian Aliens Act

Several changes entered into force in the Aliens Act 1.1.2016, which made settling in Estonia easier for the persons who create additional value and contribute to the development of the Estonian society. 

Agency workers

From 1.1.2016, aliens staying in Estonia temporarily or on the basis of a temporary residence permit have the opportunity to work in Estonia as agency workers. As a result of the amendment Estonian employers will have the possibility to recruit aliens through services, which simplify the recruitment process, which are offered by personnel agencies.  Aliens will have the possibility to register their absence from Estonia also if they plan to stay outside Estonia temporarily for the purposes of entrepreneurship.

Extension of a residence permit

As an exception, the period of stay may be extended up to ninety days if a circumstance has arisen of which an alien was unaware before entry into Estonia. If an alien has applied for the extension of a residence permit, for a new temporary residence permit or for a long-term resident’s residence permit during the period of validity of the residence permit or upon expiry of the term, his or her stay in Estonia is deemed legal during the review of his or her application.

Employing people with specific skills outside of Estonia

From 1 January, the Unemployment Insurance Fund may give a permission for hiring several aliens at a same time to work in Estonia, instead of the current one, if there are no workers with the respective skills and qualifications available in Estonia. From then on, the permit of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund will no longer be related to a specific alien and it may be granted for filling one or several positions with aliens at an Estonian employer.  A temporary residence permit for employment may be issued to an alien for employment with an employer registered in Estonia in a place of employment, of which an alien has been permitted by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund due to impossibility to fill the vacant position by employing an Estonian citizen who would comply with the requirements for qualification and professional skills for such position. 

A temporary residence permit for employment

An alien who has a legal basis for temporary stay in Estonia and whose employment has been registered with the Police and Border Guard Board before the employment commences, and whose term of employment does not exceed 180 days during a year may take employment in Estonia without a residence permit for employment. A temporary residence permit for employment may be issued for employment as a temporary agency worker if the employer who is registered in Estonia is acting as an intermediary of temporary agency work and the employer has funds in deposit to the extent of at least ten per cent of the remuneration fund.

Wages

An employer is obliged to pay an alien whose short-term employment in Estonia has been registered a remuneration in the amount equal to at least the annual average gross monthly salary and wages of the main area of activity of the employer, last published by Statistics Estonia, but not less than the annual average salary in Estonia, last published by Statistics Estonia. 

Legal stay in Estonia

An employer is required to verify that an alien who is employed by the employer would have a legal basis for the stay and employment in Estonia. An employer is prohibited to enter into an employment contract with an alien who lacks a legal basis for the stay or employment in Estonia. An employer is required to terminate the contract with an alien who lacks a legal basis for the stay or employment in Estonia.

Conclusion

Hiring a temporary agency worker without a residence permit

From 01.01.2016 the Aliens Act prescribes an opportunity for short-term hiring of a temporary agency worker, so called renal labour, without a residence permit.

Grounds for the registration of absence from Estonia

An alien holding an Estonian residence permit has an obligation to register his or her absence from Estonia for more than a total of 183 days per year and the period of absence from Estonia registered in the Police and Border Guard Board is calculated into the period of permanent residence in Estonia.

Changes in applying for a permit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund

Applying for a permit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund for hiring a foreigner is no longer personal and an employer can apply for a permit to fill one or several positions. In relation to that the bases for the annulment of a temporary residence permit and from 01.01.2016 the change of a post of an alien with the same employer is not deemed to be the change of the condition of employment determined in the residence permit.

Temporary residence permit and redundancy

Namely a temporary residence permit granted to an alien is not annulled within 90 days as of the day of becoming unemployed due to redundancy. If before, the right to stay in Estonia ended on the date of expiry of the residence permit, then the new regulation allows the alien to stay in Estonia after the expiry of the residence permit, if the person applies for the extension of a residence permit, for a new temporary residence permit or for a long-term resident’s residence permit during the period of validity of the residence permit or upon expiry of 90 days or 183 days as of the day of expiry of the period of validity of the residence permit

Obligations of an employer hiring an alien

The employer cannot employ an alien, which does not have a legal basis to stay in Estonia.

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