Working in Estonia



Estonia is a country known for its capability to adapt to changes and global modernisation rapidly. Aside from its undeniable natural beauty, it is also known for being a paperless and relatively straightforward society whereas the nation gained the name 'e-Estonia'. 

According to the World Bank, Estonia is considered to have a high-income economy. Due to the rapid and impressive growth of Estonia since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union in 2004, it has earned the name of the “Baltic Tiger”. Estonia had a per capita income of $29,501 in 2015, ranking 45th when it comes to global power purchasing parity. World Bank also ranked this country as the 20th top nation in terms of ease of doing business considering that Estonia is one of the most wireless destinations on Earth where almost everything can be done online. 

Job Market 

Majority of the work force of Estonia are employed in the Services sector, accounting for 75.6% of the total population. This is followed by the Industry sector at 20.2%, and the Agriculture sector at 4.2%. Foreigners aspiring to land a job in Estonia may find it difficult because there are a lot of educated and highly-qualified Estonians who are also looking for employment. 

As an advantage, expats should at least have a working knowledge of Estonian or Russian, since these are the languages spoken by majority of the population. Industries that can offer job opportunities for foreign nationals include English teaching, translation, IT, Customer Support, and local start-ups. 

Average Salary and Working Hours 

Currently, the minimum wage in Estonia is at an all time high of EUR 470 per month while the average monthly gross wages and salaries was EUR 1,146 as of the fourth quarter of 2016. Average monthly salaries can also differ based on one’s qualifications and job category. All foreign nationals working and residing in Estonia are subject to pay an income tax rate of 20%. For tax purposes, all working individuals who stayed in Estonia for more than 183 days per year are considered tax residents. Meanwhile, non-residents are liable to pay tax only on their Estonia-source income. 

The standard work week in Estonia is forty hours a week, or eight hours a day, Mondays to Fridays. All employees are entitled to 12 public holidays, 1 national holiday, and 28 days of annual paid vacation leave. Pregnant employees are entitled 140 days of pregnancy and maternity leave. 

Business Culture 

Generally speaking, Estonia is a hierarchical society whereas the elderly and those with more experience and higher position earn respect. Older people, even in the work environment are considered wiser whose opinions are deeply respected and considered. They are also the first one to be introduced during a business meeting and are usually treated like royalty. 

Because of the significant importance of seniority in Estonia, expats must remember that titles are also of utmost importance. Local colleagues expect to be introduced using their titles followed by their last name unless they instruct you to address them on a first name basis. When it comes to communication, Estonians are known for being reserved and quiet. Even in a heated discussion during a business meeting, expats will rarely see them lose their temper. For them, being calm, rational and maintaining one’s extreme emotions are qualities that should be deeply respected.

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