Homepage / Employee / Working relations / Hidden Employment Relationship / Apprenticeship


Viimati uuendatud: 23.02.2017

According to Estonian legislation, it is possible to be an apprentice at a company or institution only on two circumstances. First, if the school sends the student or undergraduate to the professional training practice. Secondly, the Unemployment Insurance Fund offers apprenticeship possibility to unemployed persons.

However, some people wish to learn a new profession in practice, but not through school nor the Unemployment Insurance Fund. In this case, an apprenticeship contract is concluded with a company, listing tasks that the person will start to fulfil. Sometimes it is also added that if tasks are performed well, remuneration will be paid at the end of the apprenticeship period.

Sometimes, the initiative to take on an apprentice comes from the company instead. They advertise that an apprentice position is vacant and if the job is learnt and well acquired, an employment contract will be concluded lateron.

Legislation does not foresee the conclusion of such contracts. What is the legal status of such a contract?

Theoretically, the contract content could correspond to that of the service provision contract with which one party obliges to teach and instruct and enable the use of certain materials and tools, and the other party obliges to fulfil the tasks and acquire new knowledge, abstaining from creating any harm to the teacher. However, such an agreement could in essence regulate a hidden employment contract and might govern an employment relationship and a trial period.

The Employment Contracts Act presumes an employment relationship if the worker is subject to the management and control of the person enabling the work, and the worker is paid remuneration. However, if remuneration is not paid then this cannot be the only measure to say that no employment relationship exists. Working process creates value, as a result of which someone earns profit, and this could give rise to demand remuneration for the created value. Thus, in essence, the situation could characterize an employment relationship.

According to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act, apprenticeship is a labour market service offered to the unemployed for getting practical work experience at a real company, aiming to improve the knowledge and skills necessary to find a job. The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund concludes a management contract with the employer to organize the apprenticeship. This contract determines the number of apprentices, and the content and duration of the practice so that all such activities would be legal.

It is worth to mention that even though an employment contract is not concluded, the practice opportunities provided by school and the Unemployment Insurance Fund must adhere to the legal occupational health and safety requirements.

So, to pass and carry out practice, there must be a legal ground or a corresponding agreement with the school or the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Otherwise, the practice is impossible and the worker and person allowing to work must find some other legal ground to formalize their cooperation. It is recommended to conclude an employment contract.

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