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Working environment and employment relationships

The Ministry of Social Affairs develops employment policies and organises the implementation thereof. By creating and maintaining employment relationships, as well as a safe and healthy working environment, we contribute to improving the quality of professional life.

Two important keywords are related to employment – working environment and employment relationship.

In order to create professional welfare, it is necessary to continuously take care of the working environment, i.e. the surrounding in which the person works. Occupational health and safety mean taking care of health and safety in order to prevent risks on the health of the employee.

In employment relationships, the employee and the employer must take into consideration their mutual rights and obligations that are stipulated in the employment contract, collective agreements, and the Employment Contracts Act. Amicable cooperation both in relations between the employees and in relations between the employee and the employer presupposes that the parties are aware of their rights and obligations. 


Occupational health and safety

Employment can influence the health of a person positively, but also negatively and people’s exposure to hazards may damage their physical and mental health. In order to create welfare at work, it is necessary to continuously and systematically influence the working environment. The task of the working environment policies is not only to eliminate or reduce occupational hazards and negative pressures in the working environment, but also to develop positive factors that allow maintaining the employee’s work ability within their entire professional life.


Occupational health and safety 

Risk analysis

Risk analysis forms a pillar for the organisation of the working environment to explain how much the occupational exposure limits influence the health of the employees and whether a risk of accidents exists.

In the course of the risk analysis, the employer determines the occupational exposure limits that may influence the health of the employees, assesses the extent of the hazards, i.e. the risks, and establishes measures to reduce the risks.

The results of the risk analysis, as well as an action plan to reduce the risks, which is based on those results, must be introduced to the employees and it must be explained which health risks are connected with the employment and how to protect themselves against those risks (work organisation measures, safe work practices, personal protective equipment, etc.). 

Medical examination

The objective of the medical examination carried out by the occupational health doctor is to assess the health status of the employee, and the suitability of working conditions for the employee as well as to diagnose occupational diseases and diseases caused by the work.

The necessity and content of the medical examination depends on hazards existing in the working environment, the risk of which is determined by a risk analysis of the working environment. The employer bears the expenses related to the medical examination. 

Learn more about the risk analysis and the medical examination on the Tööelu website.


Employment relationships

In the employment relationships, the employee and the employer must take into consideration their mutual rights and obligations, established by the employment contract, collective agreement, and the Employment Contracts Act.

The effective Employment Contracts Act entered into force on 1 July 2009. The Act groups together the whole set of standards regulating the employment relationship, comprising the regulation concerning the conclusion of the employment contract, as well as termination thereof, working and rest time, holiday and wages. The Act encourages partnership between the employee and the employer and directs the parties to conclude more agreements between themselves. 

Collective employment relationships

A collective agreement is a voluntary agreement between the employees and the employer, which establishes working conditions for a majority of the employees. The conclusion, validity, termination and content of the collective agreement are regulated by the Collective Agreements Act


Collective labour dispute

A collective labour dispute is a disagreement between an employer (or a federation of employers) and employees (or a union or federation of employees, i.e. trade union or federation of trade unions) which arises upon the conclusion or the performance of collective agreements or the establishment of new working conditions. The collective labour dispute can thus arise either with regard to interests (conclusion of the collective agreement and establishment of new working conditions) or rights (implementation of the collective agreement and interpretation of the provisions thereof). 

Representation of employees

The Estonian and international labour legislation acknowledges the need for the representation of employees in order to increase the quality of employment relationships. There are four types of employees’ representatives in Estonia: employees’ trustee, trade union, working environment representatives, and employees’ representatives of a Community-scale undertaking. 


Last updated: 7 June 2017