Workers less inclined to put up with illegal working conditions

The Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia has conducted its ninth survey on labour relations and safety at work. The survey, which received financial support from EU Structural funds and was carried out by research centre SKDS, asked questions on attitudes to working for organisations which violated labour laws, awareness of labour relations rules, and knowledge of safety equipment. One finding was that people were not happy to work without a written contract or without being paid for overtime.

Research goal

The Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (LBAS) started a population survey in 2008 as part of the European Social Fund project called ‘Practical application of labour relations and work safety normative acts in branches and enterprises’. Its goal was to gauge public opinion about various aspects of legal labour relations and job safety.


The ninth survey (in Latvian, 1.3Mb PDF) was conducted between 17 and 30 November 2011. Its potential sample members were Latvia’s permanent residents between the ages of 15 and 74 years, and around 1,040 respondents were selected. Of these, a specific target group was identified – Latvia’s economically active people, numbering 537 of the sample.

The survey was conducted across Latvia’s geographical regions according to the stratified random sampling method. Responses were obtained by direct interviews at the respondent’s home and carried out by SKDS, a leading marketing and public opinion research centre in Latvia which conducts surveys on a variety of topics.

In order to obtain more representative data from the relevant target group, percentages were weighted according to parameters recorded, as of 7 September 2011, in the Inhabitants’ Register of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) of the Republic of Latvia’s Ministry of the Interior. These parameters were region, nationality, age and gender.

Profile of respondents

A total of 44.5% of all respondents were male, and 55.5% were female. The number of respondents in each age group was equal, except that the group of 55 to 74-year-olds had a larger proportion of respondents – 31.7%.

A total of 61.2% of all respondents had secondary education or specialised secondary education. A total of 14.7% of all respondents worked in the public sector, and 36.9% worked in the private sector.

During the survey period, 48.4% were unemployed. The average monthly income for one family member was approximately the same in each group although the income of 40.4% of respondents was not clearly indicated.

Willingness to work under conditions that violate labour laws

All 869 respondents of working age answered a question on their willingness to work for an organisation which violated labour laws, and the results were comparable to those from the survey carried out in November 2010.

Research data revealed that 41% of inhabitants who were of working age were willing (inclined to agree or definitely agree) to work even if social taxes were not paid in full (in 2010, 46% agreed); 39% were willing to give up their annual vacation if necessary (in 2010, 37% were willing); 37% were willing to work without a written labour contract (in 2010, 39% were willing); in 2011 as in 2010, 26% regarded an employment contract merely as a formality; 16% were willing to work overtime without additional remuneration (in 2010, 18% were willing).

Men (47% of working age men) were more inclined than women (36%) to work even if social taxes were not paid. Men were also more willing to work without a written employment contract (45% of men, 29% of women), but they were not as willing as women to give up their annual vacation.

Employees’ awareness of labour laws

According to the data, almost half (49%) of Latvia’s inhabitants working in the public sector consider themselves rather well or very well informed about legal labour relations between employer and employee as laid down in Latvia’s laws. The degree of awareness increased as the level of education and income increased.

In order to find information about regulations concerning legal labour relations, 38% of inhabitants said they would look on the internet; 34% said they would ask relatives, friends, acquaintances and colleagues; 33% would ask the State Labour Inspectorate; 25% would read Latvia’s Labour Law; 23% would consult a lawyer; and 6% would consult LBAS.

Awareness of safety equipment

A total of 75% of working inhabitants said they knew where to find the emergency medical kit at their place of work; 80% knew the location of the fire extinguisher, but only slightly more than half (55%) knew how to use it.


Compared to responses a year ago, fewer respondents of working age would now be willing to work under conditions that violated various norms of legal labour relations. This means that people are becoming more prudent – they are demanding to work under conditions that comply with legal requirements, such as the payment of social taxes, they want a written employment contract and additional payment for overtime work. The fact that many employees are still willing to work under conditions that violate legal labour relations is mainly a consequence of the negative effects of the socio-economic situation.


Latvijas iedzivotaju atauja, 2011 gada novembris (9. aptauja) [Latvian People Permit, November 2011 (Ninth Poll)], 2012, LBAS, Riga, available online at (in Latvian, 1.3Mb PDF)

Linda Romele, EPC Ltd

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