Pandemic causing legal confusion for some Estonians working in Finland

Employers in Finland have started to break more rules and bypass laws while hiring Estonian labor during the coronavirus crisis. In a particularly vulnerable situation are Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority who know neither the Finnish language nor the laws.

Up to 100,000 Estonian people are working in Finland, ERR’s online news in Estonian reports. However, many have yet to clearly understand Finnish laws and employers are taking an advantage of that. Leeda Ennok, a legal advisor for Estonians working in Finland, sees this every day and says the situation has worsened during the coronavirus crisis.

“There have been problems with employers sending workers home because there is no more work and terminating contracts overnight – this is completely illegal in Finland. Many employers do not issue compulsory leave statements, which means people cannot register as unemployed and have no rights to unemployment benefits,” she explained.

Ennok says Estonia’s Russian-speaking population working in Finland is even more vulnerable. “Many don’t speak the language, they are unfamiliar with the law and don’t have anyone to turn to,” she added.

“A young man called me from Estonia, from the harbor. He had made an arrangement with a Finnish employer, which had been left unsigned for some reason. He wasn’t let into Finland, because he didn’t have a residence. The employer was supposed to provide him with an apartment, so he was left at the harbor,” Ennok presented an example, adding that Finland doesn’t use digital signatures, a contract must be signed physically and be on one’s person in order to be allowed onboard.

“Employers have left taxes unpaid and the employee is unfortunately accountable for that. The tax authority will oblige the employee to pay, unless the employee can present a tax slip which proves that taxes have been deducted from their wage,” Ennok said.

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