How to employ a Ukrainian in Estonia


Due to the current situation in Ukraine, the number of Ukrainians arriving in Estonia is growing rapidly. At present, about 32 000 Ukrainians have arrived in Estonia. With this, the number of employment contracts signed with Ukrainians will also increase. People with temporary protection can work without restrictions in Estonia.

Here is an overview of the actions to consider when hiring a Ukrainian:

1. General obligations and the employment contract

When hiring an employee who is a foreign citizen, it is employer’s obligation to check if employee has a right to work in Estonia. To fulfil that obligation an employer can ask employee to present documents and copy thereof for employer proving his/her legal status and make the necessary registrations that must be done by employer.

It is also employer’s obligation to register new employment relation in Estonian Employment Register.

The employment contract shall be, in addition to its original language, translated to a language the employee understands. Note that people with temporary protection must also be treated equally with other employees in terms of pay and other working conditions.

It is suggested to include in an employment contract the following:

  • legal ground enabling employee to work in Estonia is a precondition for validity of employment contract.

  • employer is entitled to receive documents evidencing employee’s right to work in Estonia.

  • employee is obliged to inform employer about the changes in his/her legal status regarding working in Estonia.

  • it is employer’s right and obligation to cancel the employment agreement in case of termination of employee’s right to work in Estonia.

2. Legal grounds for working in Estonia

  • Registration of short-term employment. This registration must be initiated by employer in Estonian Police and Boarder Guard Board. The registration takes up to 15 working days. It is allowed to work in Estonia 365 days during a period of 455 days under short term employment registration. The minimum gross salary is 1548 euros per month and employee is entitled to work without applying temporary protection. In case employee already had short term employment registration on 24th of February, then he/she is entitled, without additional application, to work until 31st of May 2022 even if the registration ends before that date.

  • Seasonal work. It is a sub-unit of short-term employment. This registration must also be initiated by employer in Estonian Police and Boarder Guard Board. It is allowed to work 270 days during a year under seasonal short term employment registration. The minimum gross salary is 654 euros per month, i.e., equal to general minimum salary in Estonia. Seasonal work must be performed during the season and in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fishing, accommodation or catering, food production, etc.

  • Working with temporary protection. Temporary protection is one-year residence permit that provides security and social guarantees to Ukrainian citizens and their family members. Once they have applied for temporary protection, war refugees will enjoy rights like those enjoyed by Estonian residents, for instance, the right to study, work and therefore receive health insurance. It can be applied by person lived in Ukraine until 24th of February 2022 and fled the country because of hostilities on or after 24th of February 2022.

To apply for temporary protection, it is necessary to book an appointment in a police station in advance:

3. Ask for the employee's bank account number

The salary must be paid into the bank account indicated by the employee. The following banks provide bank account opening free of charge to Ukrainian refugees: LHV Bank, Luminor, Coop Bank, SEB Bank, Swedbank and TBB Bank. To open an account, it is necessary to visit bank office to identify him/herself and to sign agreement after banks’ positive decision. It may take up to 14 working days to open an account. The bank card can be delivered by post or received from a bank office. Additional information is available at the webpages of the banks.

4. Give the foreign employee a proper induction

Give guidance to the employee about working conditions, the labour law standards applicable to them, the safety and health care of employees, and fire safety requirements. Again, a language that the employee understands is important for a competent induction.

5. Additional obligations of employers

An employer is obliged to inform Estonian Police and Boarder Guard Board about the following events regarding employing foreigner:

  • employing a foreigner,

  • failure to sign a contract with a person who have received a short-term employment registration,

  • employee has not started working as agreed,

  • changes of working conditions set out in temporary residence permit issued for working,

  • extraordinary cancellation of employment contract,

  • actual end of working.

6. Good to know - persons who started working in Estonia before 24th of February

Before the escalation of war in Ukraine on 24th of February there were about 27 000 Ukrainians working in Estonia. Employees who already had short term employment registration on 24th of February, but it ends, are still entitled to work until 31st of May 2022. After that they are entitled to stay in Estonia but must apply a new registration of short-term employment provided that the maximum number of days permitted have not been entirely used. This regulation may change in coming weeks in the way, that they are entitled to continue working without limit of days set for short term employment. Ukrainians who were already in Estonia before 24th of February, are not entitled to receive temporary protection.