Recruitment of minors
Employers are not required to apply for the Labour Inspectorate’s permission for employing a young person under 13 years of age; however, they must add a respective entry in the employment register ten working days before the 7–12-year-old starts working.
This requirement is significantly different from the requirements applicable to adults or at least 15-year-old employees, who may be registered on the day of commencement of work. When concluding an employment contract with an employee who is a minor (i.e., an employee under the age of 18), the employer shall ask for the consent of his or her legal representative.
When employing a minor of 7–12 years of age, the employer shall enter the following information in the self-service of the Labour Inspectorate ten working days before the minor commences work:
- consent of a legal representative of the minor,
- the working conditions of the minor, including their working time and duties,
- whether the minor is subject to the obligation to attend school.
It would be beneficial to add a contact person that the inspector could contact, if necessary, as it would streamline the procedure.
The employment register is managed by the Tax and Customs Board that forwards information on registered minors to the Labour Inspectorate. A labour inspector shall verify within ten working days that the work is not prohibited for the minor and the minor’s working conditions are in accordance with the requirements provided by law. The inspector may contact the employer’s representative and ask for additional information. In the case of doubt, the inspector has the right to request from the employer:
- Contact information of the minor to ensure the minor wishes to do the work;
- Contact information of the minor’s legal representative to verify consent;
- the date of birth and age of the minor and information on whether the minor is subject to the obligation to attend school;
- In addition, an explanation of the working conditions, including information on the duration of the employment relationship, working hours, wages, place of work, work tasks, work-related risks and measures taken to protect the safety and health of minors. The inspector may request a risk analysis and safety instructions they have prepared from the employer to ensure safety.
If an inspector has not contacted the employer within ten working days or given notification of their refusal to grant consent, they may presume that the inspector has granted their consent and the child may commence work.
Consent to conclude an employment contract with a minor
Consent of the legal representative required for concluding an employment contract. (subsection 8 (9) of the Employment Contracts Act)
Consent of the labour inspector required for concluding an employment contract. (subsection 8 (6) of the Employment Contracts Act)
In order to enter into an employment contract with a minor, the employer shall ask for the consent of the minor and his or her parent. The parent may grant his or her consent both orally and in writing, and he or she can also grant consent subsequently, i.e. after the minor has commenced work. A minor subject to the obligation to attend school may work during performing their obligation to attend school and during school holiday, taking into account the restrictions provided by law. A parent may not consent to the employment during the school holiday of a minor subject to the obligation to attend school for more than a half of each term of the school holiday. Each school holiday refers separately to the summer, winter, autumn and spring holiday.
When employing a minor of 7–12 years of age, the employer shall enter information in the self-service of the Labour Inspectorate about the consent of a legal representative of the minor, the working conditions of the minor, including the minor’s place of work and duties and whether the minor is subject to the obligation to attend school. In the interests of streamlining the procedure, the Labour Inspectorate recommends adding the information of a contact person of the employer, with whom the inspector could contact if necessary (to specify the information).
Information on a registered minor is forwarded the Labour Inspectorate from the Tax and Customs Board, after which the labour inspector checks within ten working days that the work is not prohibited and that the working conditions of the minor comply with the requirements provided by law. The inspector has the right to contact the employer’s representative and request additional information (including in writing). If an inspector has not contacted the employer within ten working days or notified of their refusal to grant consent, they may presume that the inspector has granted their consent and the child may commence work.
Working with children under 7 years of age
Children under the age of 7 are prohibited from working pursuant to the Employment Contracts Act. However, if a child under the age of 7 is to be involved in cultural, art, sports or advertising activities, the labour Inspectorate and the Ministry of Social Affairs recommend that the undertaking or other contracting entity enter into a written agreement with the parent or guardian, confirming that the child wishes to participate in the project.
Ensuring the well-being of the child is essential
The parent or person raising the child has the primary responsibility for ensuring the protection of the child’s well-being and rights. Before entering into such an agreement, the parent and the undertaking wishing to involve the child in the project shall consider the best interests of the child and ensure that participation is easy and safe for the child. This means analysing whether the project in which the child is to be involved is suitable for a particular child, taking into account the child’s age, level of maturity, abilities, interests, and other circumstances. The undertaking can contribute to it by explaining the content of the project and helping the parent to consider the child’s well-being while they participate in the project. It is important that the child has an explanation of what participating in the project means, taking into account his or her level of maturity. Among other things, the child shall be told what is expected of him or her and what it means to participate in the project (e.g. that the child does certain activities at certain times, etc.) so that the child understands what the expectations are based on his or her level of maturity and wants to participate in the project.
The child can leave the project at any time
The agreement shall state the child’s right to receive remuneration for participating in the project. The remuneration received is for the child . The agreement may also contain the obligation of the child’s parents to bring the child to rehearsals or performances, for example. We also recommend agreeing on what the consequences are if the parent or undertaking no longer wants to participate in the project.
It must be taken into account that a child under the age of 7 has the right to refuse to participate in the project at any time. No obligation to pay a contractual penalty or any other sanctions can be imposed on the parent if the child no longer wants to participate. If the child no longer wants to participate, the agreed-on remuneration may be reduced according to the volume of work performed prior to the refusal or no remuneration may be paid depending on the circumstances. At the same time, it is possible to agree on sanctions if the child’s withdrawal from the project or failure to appear is due to the fact that the parent fails to bring the child to the agreed location for any reason.
If you want to involve a child under the age of 7 in a project, we recommend following the guidelines below:
- bear in mind that the child may only be involved in light work in the field of culture, art, sports or advertising; first identify the interests and wishes of the child and put those first;
- bear in mind that the planned activities should correspond to the child’s physical and mental abilities, not jeopardise his or her morals  and be playful, appropriate for his or her age;
- enter into an agreement with the parent of the child under the age of 7 on how the child will be involved;
- register the agreement on participation in the project in the employment register (other agreement under the law of obligations within the meaning of the employment register) and indicate in the additional field that a child under 7 years of age is involved;
- consider the possible risks of the activity and give the child and parent the necessary instructions on how to act safely and proactively and find potential substitutes in the case that the child is unable or no longer wants to participate in the project;
- bear in mind that the agreement with the parent can be for bringing the child to rehearsals in a timely manner or to the location of the project and it cannot involve an obligation for the child to take part in the project;
- the child shall be able to leave the project at any time if he or she so wishes and the parent shall not be penalised in the event of withdrawal (for example, a contractual penalty if the child no longer wishes to participate);
- ensure that people in direct contact with the child in the project are not prohibited from working with children ;
- ensure that all employees and other persons who come into contact with the child during the project treat the child in a child-friendly manner, taking into account the child’s age and other characteristics, avoid pressuring the child, and preventing child abuse.
Additional information on children’s rights and obligations can be found on the website of the Estonian Union for Child Welfare.
More information about the rights of children and rights and obligations of parents can be found at:
The Social Insurance Board has created a free service called the Child Helpline (Lasteabitelefon). The Child Helpline 116111 is a 24-hour service that is free of charge and is intended for asking advice on topics related to children. You can find more information on the website of the Social Insurance Board.
Both undertakings and parents can find additional information on ensuring restrictions in working with children and checking the background of persons at: https://www.rik.ee/et/karistusregister/lastega-tootamise-piirangu-kontrollimine
 The parent shall use the relevant amount to cover expenses related to raising the child or save it for the child’s future in accordance with prudency principles. The property management provisions a parent shall take into account in managing their child’s property have been provided in the Family Law Act.
 The planned activities shall not jeopardise the morals of the child – the activities shall not include, for example, exposure to tobacco, alcohol, other mind-altering substances, or contradict the ethical and moral norms prevailing in the society.
 Pursuant to the Child Protection Act, a person who has been punished or to whom coercive treatment has been imposed for a criminal offence provided in section 20 may not work with a child or come into immediate contact with a child in their work.
A reminder for young workers
- Before commencing work, check whether the employer (undertaking) is reliable! Search for information in the commercial register, credit info and the Tax and Customs board
- Choose a job that you like and that suits you!
- Dare to ask and negotiate!
- If something is unclear or you still have questions, talk to your parents.
- Conclude agreements in writing!
- Prefer an employment contract and know your rights and obligations!
- Do not forget your school work!
As a rule, the work is performed under an employment contract, but an authorisation agreement or contract for services may also be entered into for this purpose. The following are types of contracts that can be concluded for performing work:
- concluded for long-term work;
- usually entered into for an unspecified term;
- the employer organises and supervises the performance of duties;
- wages for work are paid at least once a month;
- annual paid leave is provided for;
- occupational health and safety requirements have been established.
CONTRACT FOR SERVICES
- is a contract for providing services;
- usually concluded when an agreement is made to manufacture or modify something or to achieve another agreed result by providing the service
- (e.g., apartment renovation);
- the contract for services has a specified term.
- is a contract for providing services
- it is appropriate when an agreement is made to perform a specific task (e.g. giving a lecture).
You can also find a comparison of contracts concluded for the performance of work on the website of the labour Inspectorate.
ENTRY INTO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
- Your rights and obligations arise from the employment contract.
- Discuss the main terms and conditions of the employment contract before concluding the contract!
- The wages, place of work, working time and tasks are agreed on in the contract.
- Other conditions deemed important by the parties may also be agreed on.
- Do not be afraid to ask if something needs clarifying.
- An employment contract shall be concluded before actually commencing work, no later than on the day of commencing work.
- An employment contract is concluded if both parties have signed it and you have one copy of the signed contract.
- The employment contract may be either written or electronic, but in any case it shall be signed by both parties.
NB! If you are between 7 and 17 years of age, know that before you can conclude an employment contract, you need to express your wish to work and your legal representatives (mother or father) have to agree.
Read more about concluding an employment contract here
Suitable work for minors
What is suitable work:
- Before commencing work, carefully consider which job and working conditions suit you best.
- Would you like to perform work that would allow you time to study or would you prefer just to work for a while? When making choices, start by taking a good look at yourself and considering your strengths and weaknesses.
- Are you prepared to perform work that occasionally requires both physical and mental effort or work that may become monotonous and has to be performed alone?
- Would you like to work on certain week days or under a schedule?
- Do you like to work in one specific location or would you rather travel to different places?
Aspects that young workers should consider
What are the aspects that young workers should pay particular attention to?
- Slipping and tripping are the most common causes of accidents at work, as people often rush in hazardous areas, workplaces are cluttered, the floor is not clean and tidy, and there can be wires laying around.
- Machinery and equipment – many accidents occur because equipment is not properly maintained, protective equipment is not used, training is incomplete, electrical equipment failures cause burns, fires or death, and equipment repairs are attempted without shutting down the devices and disconnecting power supply. In addition to factories, hazardous equipment can also be found in, for example, restaurant kitchens.
- Lifting loads – accidents occur when lifting objects when they are too heavy or unstable, when the lifting position is incorrect or when there is no necessary lifting and handling equipment.
- Repeated fast work, especially in an awkward position and with insufficient rest breaks – such work causes pain and damages muscles and joints. Such health problems can be caused, for example, by working on a factory assembly line, at a cash register or with a computer.
- Noise – excessive noise can damage your hearing. Hearing deteriorates so slowly that it can be difficult to notice. Hearing loss is irreversible. Other physical hazards include vibration and radiation.
- Use of chemicals – these include common cleaning liquids, dyes, haircare products, and dust. Chemicals at the workplace can cause an acute allergic rash, persistent asthma or cancer or damage fertility or the foetus. Chemicals can damage the liver, nervous system, and blood.
- Stress – this can be caused by poor organisation of work, excessive workload, unclear responsibilities, and a depressing work atmosphere. Stress can also be caused by a bullying supervisor or co-workers.
- Violence – in addition to physical assault, violence is also for example verbal abuse. No one should tolerate violence at the workplace.
- Working environment – from an uncomfortably hot or cold workplace to extreme temperatures. This also includes, for example, insufficient lighting.
You need to know your rights in order to protect yourself.
Employees have the following rights:
- to know what hazards they are exposed to at the workplace, what they should do to protect themselves and how to act in the event of an accident or emergency; receive safety-related information, instructions and training specific to their work; receive required personal protective equipment free of charge;
- can participate in creating a safe working environment by asking questions, reporting hazardous activities and conditions, and discussing safety matters with the employer or supervisor.
As a last resort, an employee has the right to refuse hazardous work. An employee does not have to do something hazardous simply because their supervisor tells them to or because all other employees do it. Certainly not everything depends on the employer. Therefore, you must also act responsibly.