Siret Saks writes on legislative risks for foreign workers in Estonia

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Siret Saks writes on legislative risks for foreign workers in Estonia

In the October issue of the Personali Praktik magazine, Siret Saks, RASK's head of practice in employment and foreign recruitment, discusses in detail the bottlenecks in Estonian legislation that foreigners living in Estonia and companies employing foreign labour should know.

Despite the extensive public attention attracted by statements describing foreigners arriving here as a threat to Estonia's security, the opposite tends to be the case. While for Estonian citizens the principle applies that in administrative proceedings any unclear circumstances are to be interpreted in favour of the person subject to the proceedings, no such privileged status extends to foreigners subject to proceedings.

Remarkably little is required for foreign nationals to lose their residence permit in Estonia. According to Estonian judicial practice, a serious criminal offence committed by a foreigner does not constitute a "threat to public order"; instead, what are mostly ruled to pose a threat to the state are apparent trivialities such as speeding, verbal exchanges in the streets of Tallinn at night, less than perfect familiarity with Estonian legislation or non-compliance with the Commercial Code.

Even a simple disturbance, which would have no serious consequences for an Estonian citizen, can lead to the loss of a valuable employee for the employer and disrupt the entire life of a highly valuable foreign specialist. In some cases, it may even cause them difficulty working in other EU Member States.