Labor Law

I am a small business. The driver who worked in our company caused an accident in traffic, which resulted in damage to a private person. As an undertaking, am I solely liable for the damage caused by the employee or is the employee also liable?

The basic rule provided by the Employment Contracts Act is that if an employee is liable for damage caused to a third party in the course of performing his or her duties, the employer must release the employee from the obligation to compensate for damage and incur necessary court costs and perform these obligations before the third party. After that, the employer may demand compensation for the respective damage from the employee, taking into account the restrictions in law. At the same time, the Supreme Court has found in one decision that if, for example, an insurance company has compensated the victim for non-proprietary damage on the basis of the Traffic Insurance Act, this does not preclude the victim from filing an additional claim for compensation for non-proprietary damage under the Law of Obligations Act. The injured party has the right to claim full damages from all joint and several debtors responsible for causing the damage, regardless of the share of liability of the perpetrators in relation to them. Thus, in practice, both the employer and the employee may be jointly and severally liable for damage caused to third parties.

I worked as a CEO in a company selling cleaning equipment. My employment contract recently ended, but the contract contained an agreed restriction of competition, ie I will not be allowed to work for my former employer's competitors for one year after the end of the contract. The employer had to pay me 20% of the last salary for complying with the competition restriction. In my opinion, however, it is too small and does not compensate for what I am currently losing due to the restriction. What to do?

The Employment Contracts Act prescribes the conditions under which a restriction of competition agreement is valid after the termination of the employment contract. One of the required conditions is that the employer pays reasonable compensation for the restriction. As the amount of compensation is not specified by law, the parties can negotiate it with each other. However, the parties may not always be satisfied with the amount of compensation agreed and the dispute must be settled by a court. The courts have made different assessments in different judgments as to which principles should be followed and what the amount of compensation could be justified. For example, the court has found that in the case of a sales employee, the compensation is approximately 20% of the salary. As a general rule, the higher the restrictions, the higher the compensation must be - compensation in the range of 50-60% of previous earnings may also be justified. However, the courts have not held that the amount of compensation should be equal to the amount of the employee's last salary, but depends on the circumstances of the particular situation. Therefore, higher compensation may also be required.

I am an entrepreneur who wants to hire a foreign worker (Ukrainian builder). Can he also be given a mandate? What requirements apply to me in this regard at all?

A contract under the law of obligations may also be entered into with a migrant worker, it is not only an obligation to enter into an employment contract. Workers living in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit generally have the right to work in Estonia. As of 01.09.2013, no separate work permit will be issued in Estonia. An worker who is legally staying temporarily in Estonia (for example, on the basis of a visa or visa waiver) and whose employment has been registered with the Police and Border Guard Board before starting work may work in Estonia for a short period of time. Short-term employment can be registered for up to 365 days in a 455-day period. You can register for short-term employment as a seasonal job for up to 270 days a year. The general requirements for the registration of short-term employment are as follows: 1) the worker has the qualifications, education, state of health and work experience required for the performance of the job and the necessary professional skills and knowledge; 2) the employer is registered in Estonia; 3) the employer pays the worker a salary, the amount of which is the average annual gross monthly salary in Estonia last published at the time of application.

Can a member of the management board of a private limited company also have an employment contract with the same company?

Pursuant to § 1 (5) of the Employment Contracts Act, the relations between a company and its management bodies are not employment relationships within the meaning of the Employment Contracts Act. Thus, a person who performs only the duties of a member of the management board cannot be entered into an employment contract and the guarantees arising from the Employment Contracts Act are not lent to him or her. The decisive criterion in distinguishing between an employment contract and a contract of a member of the management board is, in fact, the duties to be performed. If a member of the management board only manages the activities of the company and does not perform other duties in the company, only a contract of a member of the management board may be entered into with him or her. The law does not prohibit a member of the management board from working in the same company on the basis of an employment contract. A member of the management board of a company may work for the same company on the basis of an employment contract if the work performed does not constitute the performance of the duties of a member of the management board.

Unfortunately, I have had a negative relationship with my boss at work lately, the situation is tense (not my fault). I would like to leave my job because I no longer want to experience this job bullying. What would be my options for leaving this employment?

Pursuant to § 91 (1) of the Employment Contracts Act (TLS), an employee may terminate an employment contract for an extraordinary reason, especially if, taking into account all the circumstances and mutual interest, the continuation of the contract cannot be reasonably demanded. Pursuant to § 91 of the TLS, a valid reason for dismissal by an employee may be either circumstances arising from the employee or significant breaches of the employer's obligations, for example if the employer has treated the employee undignifiedly or threatened or allowed co-workers or third parties to do so (clause 1); if the employer has significantly delayed the payment of wages (clause 2); if the continuation of work is related to a real danger to the life, health, morals or good name of the employee (clause 3). The dismissal may be based on other similar reasons, which are so important that it is no longer possible to continue the employment relationship. The Supreme Court has noted in civil case no. 3-2-1-116-12 clause 11 that the precondition for extraordinary termination of an employment contract is the existence of a valid reason pursuant to both § 196 of the Law of Obligations Act (LPA) and § 87 TLS, because considering all circumstances and interests reasonably require the continuation of the contract. The Chamber finds that pursuant to § 91 (1) of the TLS, an unforeseen circumstance is a valid reason for extraordinary termination of an employment contract, due to which it can be assumed when considering the interests of the parties that performance of the contract has become impossible for the employee. In other words, not every reason that would lead to an extraordinary termination of an employment contract can be considered important, but only one that makes it impossible for an employee to perform the contract. In practice, non-payment and delays by the employer are the most common, ie reasons that justify the extraordinary termination of an employment contract on the basis of § 91 (2) 2) of the TLS. If an employee terminates the employment contract extraordinarily due to a violation of the employer (§ 91 (2) TLS), the employer is required to pay compensation to the employee in the amount of three months' average salary (§ 100 (4) TLS).

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