Labor law

The ABCs of hiring a new employee

Uljana Feldman
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Employers have to deal with three important aspects that lead to an employment relationship between employer and employee: job interview, pre-contractual negotiations and background checks (the last of these, of course, with employee consent). We will not cover these stages more thoroughly in this article, but will instead take a closer look at the start of the employment relationship.

Employer and employee enter into their employment contract as the outcome of pre-contractual negotiations on mutually agreed conditions. It’s under the employment contract that the employee submits to the employer’s direction and supervision. One of the most important conditions of the employment contract is the description of duties of employment. If the duties of employment are not clearly specified in the employment contract, they must definitely be listed in the job description. In fact, over time, the job description has become a more substantial document than merely a description of duties. In the job description, employers also set out aspects such as superior-subordinate relations, substitutes and the employee’s aptitude for the position, taking into account the employee’s development, aptitude, experience, and other important aspects. A clear and understandable description of duties of employment allows the employer to exercise their rights insofar as requiring the employee to perform the duties of employment agreed upon. At the same time, the employee also knows what functions they are expected to fulfil.

Don’t forget to register employment

On the first day of work, everything seems very run-of-the-mill – a new person is at work and can start performing their duties of employment. By the moment that the person starts work, the employer must register the commencement of employment in the register of employment (Estonian abbreviation: TÖR). Unfortunately there have been cases, especially among employers who are foreign nationals who are not aware of the requirement and the employment goes unregistered.

To register the commencement of employment, the employer must indicate the new employee’s personal identification code, or in its absence, the date of birth, start date – the day on which they began work under the employment contract, the type of work (a comprehensive table can be found on the Tax and Customs Board website), working time, title of the position and the address of the place of work.

Registration of commencement of employment is also extremely important from the employee’s standpoint, as only registered employees have health insurance. Entering data into the TÖR is the legal basis for insurance coverage to arise; the Tax and Customs Board forwards data from the TÖR to the Health Insurance Fund. Timely submission of data and registration of employment is of the utmost importance, as the health insurance starts after a 14 day have elapsed since the day of commencement of work entered into TÖR. If the employment start date entered into TÖR falls within a valid insurance coverage period, insurance will continue seamlessly. If the employer fails to register the employee for health insurance and the employee should have been entitled to receive healthcare compensation, the employer must compensate the employee for any health insurance compensation forgone. More information can be found on the Health Insurance Fund website.

Training and supervision are critical

If it’s an employee’s first day at work and the commencement of employment has been registered, the employer wants the employee to start work. Before that happens, the employer has one important to-do – a workstation must have been prepared for the employee based on the nature of the work, taking into account work safety and ergonomic specifics of the job. In other words, the employee must have appropriate and comfortable conditions to work in.

As the next step, the employer must brief the employee on occupational health and safety arrangements at the company. The employer may permit the employee to start work once it has been made certain that the employee knows the company’s occupational health and safety arrangements and is able to use safe working techniques in practice. For this purpose, every employee is required to introduce the employee to guidelines related to the working environment, which include, for example, general occupational health and safety guidelines, rules for organization of work, first aid giving and first aid kit user manual, procedure for employees’ medical examinations, if necessary guidelines for remote work and remote workers’ occupational health and safety instructions, among others. In the course of briefing the employee on these guidelines, the employer also organizes training, taking into account the specific nature of the work and its hazardousness, where applicable.

The employee masters the use of safe working techniques through successfully completing practical training. Ordinarily, the employer designates an experienced employee as the supervisor, who is responsible for training the new employee during a period of time specified by the employer. The duration of training depends on the specific nature and hazardousness of the work. It should be borne in mind that the training must also be held if the new employee has done similar work at another employer. Above all, this is because of the potentially different approaches, requirements, tools and work environments at different employers.

Supervision and training must be registered

Once the theoretical and practical supervision and training have been completed, the employer registers the date and content of the training in writing or in a form reproducible in writing. The employee is required to certify by signature that the employer has indeed instructed and trained them. Employers use different ways of registering the training, such as a spreadsheet or software with the necessary modules. The latter is a very convenient solution for larger companies, because completing and maintaining spreadsheets becomes inconvenient over time. The purpose of registering supervision and training is to ensure that the employer can, if necessary, prove that these have taken place; it also provides a better overview of whether all employees have received the corresponding supervision and training.

Nowadays, people tend to take good care of their health, which is also an important topic in employment relations. Employers are obliged to address the issue of employee health, by arranging a medical examination within four months of the hire date. The expenses of the examination are borne by the employer and the examination takes place during the employee’s working time. The employer-arranged medical examination is obligatory for employees and may not be refused since the requirement comes from the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Refusal to undergo medical examination may be grounds for termination of employment relationship.

Once the abovementioned activities are completed, you will successfully have completed the stages of hiring a new employee.

Grant Thornton Baltic’s specialists will be happy to provide advice in navigating the above stages and if desired, prepare the necessary documents needed for starting an employment relationship. Don’t hesitate to contact us to talk about your organization’s needs in more detail!

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