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By Ivar Paimre, board member of NGO Estonian Carers

Carers combining work and care in Estonia have now the right to apply for 5 days of paid care leave per year. Employment Contracts Act that came in force on 1st July 2018 gives legal basis for it.

The outtake from Employment Contracts Act describes the eligibility and compensation terms for the leave.

"Leave for caring for adult with profound disability:

An adult employee has the right to up to five working days of leave per calendar year for caring for an adult with a profound disability (carer’s leave) if he or she is a relative in the ascending or descending line, a brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, the spouse or registered partner, the guardian or the caregiver appointed to the adult with a profound disability.

Carer’s leave is compensated for according to the minimum wage established in the State budget annually."

At first glance, the carer’s leave looks inclusive as wide range of family members, relatives or even friends are mentioned as legal subjects. On the otherhand, this comes with series of conditions that limits the uptake of the leave. First of all, the adult being cared for must be recognised as dependant with profound disability (3 levels of disability include moderate, severe and profound), adult employee have to be employed on the basis of Employment contract (Law of Obligations Act gives more opportunities for agreeing on the terms of employment, but usually without the right for paid leave such as carer’s leave) and the 5 days of paid carer’s leave is tied to a adult with profound disability (wide range of legal subjects have to decide amongst themselves who gets to use this leave).

Leaving the different stipulations aside, adding the carer’s leave into the mix of opportunities for working carers is right step towards more social and inclusive society. There is room for improvement, e.g. the compensation level or wider approach based on disability level, but the cause is noble.

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