Transnational employee involvement Act adopted

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In January 2005, the Estonian parliament finally ratified an Act transposing into national law the EU Directives on European Works Councils and employee involvement in the European Company Statute.

On 12 January 2005, the Estonian parliament (Riigikogu) ratified the Involvement of Employees in the Activities of Community-scale Undertakings, Community-scale Groups of Undertakings and European Company Act proposed by the government. The Act transposes the EU Directives on European Works Councils (EWCs) (94/45/EC) and on employee involvement linked to the European Company Statute (ECS) (2001/86/EC) (EU0206202F). The aim of the Act is to ensure in the relevant circumstances (ie multinational companies covered by the EWCs Directive and European Companies based on the ECS) employees’ rights to be involved in issues that concern their working life, and to ensure that employees are involved before an employer makes a decision that would affect employees. The Act establishes the legal framework for information and consultation about the multinational employer’s activities, the economic and employment situation, work organisation and other matters that could interest employees.

The draft of the Act was presented twice to the Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions (Eesti Ametiühingute Keskliit, EAKL) (EE0308101F), the Estonian Employees’ Unions’ Confederation (Eesti Teenistujate Ametiühingute Keskorganisatsioon, TALO) and the Estonian Employers’ Confederation (Eesti Tööandjate Keskliit, ETTK) (EE0310102F) in an attempt to achieve consensus. The first time it was presented, at the beginning of 2004, it was under the name of the Social Dialogue Act (EE0403101F) and, besides Directives 94/45/EC and 2001/86/EC, it also sought to transpose the Directive on national information and consultation rules (2002/14/EC) (EU0204207F). The draft was criticised by the social partners quite severely, above all because it was not meant to regulate 'social dialogue', despite its name. It was then decided to implement Directive 2002/14/EC through a new Collective Labour Relations Act and Directives 94/45/EC and 2001/86/EC through a new Involvement of Employees in the Activities of Community-scale Undertakings, Community-scale Groups of Undertakings and European Company Act.

The draft was thus again presented to the social partners in summer 2004 under the name of the Involvement of Employees in the Activities of Community-scale Undertakings, Community-scale Groups of Undertakings and European Company Act (EE0409103F). TALO approved the draft without any comments, but ETTK and EAKL did not. ETTK was opposed because it thought that the draft gave unjustified advantages to trade unions in the selection of representatives of Estonian employees to the various bodies required under the EWCs Directive and ECS involvement Directive. The privilege of appointing representatives would have been held by the trade union in a company, thus placing other forms of employee representation in an unequal position. The draft was changed so that it treated the various forms of employees’ representation equally. This satisfied ETTK, but not EAKL, whose views on this point were not included in the final text.

The new Act was planned to come into force on 8 October 2004, the date by which the ECS involvement Directive should have been transposed to national legislation in the Member States. However, as the Act was ratified only in January 2005, it came into effect on 11 February 2005.

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