ESTONIA: Heading toward an occupational injury insurance system?

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Estonia is one of the few EU countries that do not have a specific insurance system for occupational injuries and diseases. The situation could change in 2021, because the Ministry of Social Affairs has announced its intention of creating such a system, which will be fairer for employees, who are currently covered by the solidarity health insurance organization. The new system should also incentivize employers to improve the work environment.

The amount of the insurance premiums will depend on the risk level and therefore more or less on the sector of activity. The premium could be about 6 euros per employee per year in the ICT sector and 160 euros in the waste management sector.

In response to concerns expressed by the employers’ organizations, the Ministry has assured them that the new system would not increase their overall tax burden, because social security and unemployment insurance contributions would be lower. These organizations also consider that the new system will place excessive responsibility on employers, whereas many accidents occur when employees do not obey safety rules and instructions. In their opinion, the system should also motivate employees to ensure their own safety.

The trade unions support this government initiative which will oblige employers to tackle the issue of occupational safety and health, to perform risk analyses and to make work environments safer. They suggest that the next stage should be the setting up of a specific occupational disease insurance system.

The details of the new system must be discussed in greater depth, and the changes will come into effect in 2021 at the earliest.

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