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Estonia is the northernmost of the three Baltic states. Surprisingly, the Estonian language is not related to Latvian or Lithuanian, nor is it a Slavic language like Russian. Its only close relative is Finnish, with Hungarian being a more distant relative. Estonia became independent in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved, joined the European Union in 2004, and adopted the euro in 2010, the first former Soviet state to do so. Estonia’s economy is heavily dependent on trade. Its largest exports are machinery and electrical equipment, wood and finished wood products, as well as furniture. Freight and passenger transit, especially between Russia and Europe, is also an important part of the economy, and the tourism industry is growing, with the number of visitors to Estonia exceeding the country’s population in most years. Estonia is also a leader in IT and has been called the Silicon Valley of Europe. In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to have online voting in a national election.

Employment contracts in Estonia should be written and must include details of the employee’s salary, benefits and termination clauses. The contract must also include both parties’ names and registry codes, responsibilities, workplace location, work hours, annual leave, notice period and workplace policies.

The standard workweek in Estonia is 40 hours over five days with eight-hour days. The workweek is capped at 48 hours over a four-month period including overtime. Employees receive 11 hours of rest over a 24-hour period or 48 hours over seven days.

Employees are allowed 182 calendar days of paid sick leave in Estonia. Employers pay for sick leave from the fourth to the eighth day of leave with government benefits available on the ninth day. Sick leave pay is 70% of the employee’s average salary.

Female employees receive 100 days of paid maternity leave in Estonia and can start taking leave from as early as 70 days before the due date. Employees receive maternity leave pay, called the maternity benefit, from the government Health Insurance Fund. Male employees receive 30 days of paternity leave, which may be taken any time from 30 days before the birth until the child is three years old.

Estonia has a minimum wage. Performance-based bonuses are common.

Employees receive 28 days of paid vacation leave in Estonia unless the employer and employee agreed on more leave time. In an employee’s first year, the leave available is in proportion to the portion of the year that the employee has worked. Employees are entitled to take leave after six months.

In Estonia, the public holidays are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Independence Day

  • Good Friday

  • Easter Sunday

  • Spring Day

  • Pentecost

  • Victory Day

  • Midsummer Day

  • Independence Restoration Day

  • Christmas Eve

  • Christmas Day

  • Boxing Day

Estonia has universal healthcare.

An employer must have a reason to terminate an employment contract in Estonia. The notice period depends on the employee’s length of service. The notice period is 15 days for employees with up to one year of service, 30 days for employees with up to five years of service, 60 days for employees with up to 10 years of service and 90 days for employees with more than 10 years of service. An employee terminates their employment contract by giving 30 days written notice, but can quit with no notice under limited exceptions.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

  • Partner with atlas logo

    Partnering with Atlas when expanding into Estonia can dramatically reduce the standard brick and mortar processes of doing business in foreign markets and allow you to focus on what you do best, growing your company! To discover more about how Atlas can simplify your ability to expand globally, please feel free to contact us.

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