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Riigikogu

Riigikogu passed five Acts at the last sitting of the spring session

87 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on Amendments to the Family Benefits Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (185 SE), initiated by the Government.

Under the Act, the payment of parental benefit can be suspended and continued on a parent’s request, on the basis of calendar months, until the child attains three years of age. The Act also specifies that parental benefit can be suspended and continued only after the child attains 70 days of age. The amendments ensures legal clarity so that mothers who are not entitled to maternity benefit could use their individual right to a benefit during the first 70 days of the life of the child, and this right would not be transferable to the father later with a suspension of the parental benefit.

The Act also extends the period of successive births to three years, during which the new parental benefit is calculated on the basis of earlier income. The amendment is necessary in order to ensure income to families upon successive birth of children, to avoid postponing desired births, and to bring the provision onto the same bases as the length of parental leave.

The regulation regarding the payment of maintenance allowance during the enforcement procedure is also amended. The Act creates the possibility to start paying maintenance allowance three months sooner. This would improve the means of parents who are raising their children alone to ensure the growing environment necessary for the child.

The Act also specifies the payment of child benefit for children under 16. Under the current Family Benefits Act, a child who is enrolled in a basic school or upper secondary school, or a child without secondary education enrolled in formal vocational education, has the right to receive child allowance until he or she attains 19 years of age. The child benefit is paid retroactively for summer months in cases where the young person continues his or her studies in the same year after graduation from the basic school. Currently, there is no direct legal basis for paying family allowances for summer months in the case of young people who have completed a year at a secondary school or formal vocational education and wish to study at another school or another specialty. An earlier version of the Act included relevant provisions but these had been omitted by mistake in the course of amending the Act, although the legislature has not wished to introduce fundamental changes into the relevant practice. The purpose of the amendments proposed by the Act is to restore the earlier procedure and to ensure the payment of child allowance for such children in summer months as well.

Priit Sibul (Isamaa) and Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

The Act on Amendments to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act (206 SE), initiated by the Government, increase the flexibility of the unemployment insurance benefit system, and provides greater social protection in the event of unemployment. The Act provides for the possibility of temporary work, or gig work, while registered as unemployed.

Under the Act, it will be possible to work temporarily for up to eight days a month while registered as unemployed. The Act provides that while registered as unemployed, a person may do temporary work for no more than 12 calendar months during a 24-month period, and the remuneration paid for each period of temporary work in a specific calendar month must not exceed 40 per cent of the minimum wage in that year. This year, the minimum wage is EUR 584, and 40 per cent of it is EUR 233.

Besides allowing gig work, the Act also specifies the calculation of unemployment insurance benefit in a situation where the insured person worked in Estonia before becoming unemployed, and abroad prior to that. The Act changes the amount of unemployment benefit in the context of both the unemployment insurance benefit and the unemployment allowance, as well as the conditions for receiving the unemployment insurance benefit, in order to encourage seasonal work among the unemployed.

The Act specifies the calculation of the unemployment insurance benefit in a situation where the insured person has been working in Estonia before he or she loses his or her job and, before that, outside Estonia in another contracting state of the European Economic Area or in the Swiss Confederation.

The replacement rates of unemployment benefits also change: during the first one hundred days of unemployment, the unemployment insurance benefit is 60 per cent of the prior income, instead of the current 50 per cent, and the unemployment allowance is 50 per cent of the minimum wage of the previous year, instead of the current 35 per cent.

To facilitate seasonal employment of the unemployed, the Act amends the conditions for receiving the unemployment insurance benefit to the effect that if a person again becomes unemployed after the end of seasonal work, the payment of the benefit will continue if the benefit has not been paid for all the days of the previous payment period, and no more than 12 months have passed since the person took up employment.

The Act will enter into force on 1 September 2020 when the provisions on temporary employment will enter into force. The increase in the replacement rate of the unemployment insurance benefit will enter into force on 1 August 2020. The changes to the replacement rates will thus concern the benefits calculated from 1 August, and will have no retroactive effect.

Signe Riisalo (Reform Party), Priit Sibul (Isamaa) and Lauri Läänemets (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

82 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act.

According to the Act on the Ratification of the Protocol amending the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (143 SE), initiated by the Government, the purpose of the Convention is to protect the inviolability of private life in the automatic processing of personal data. The Convention was opened for signature in 1981. The technological development and the globalisation of information has brought about new challenges in the field of personal data protection, and consequently the Convention has also needed updating.

The Protocol establishes a legal framework to facilitate the cross-border movement of data as well as to ensure the effective protection of personal data when it is processed. The regulations of the EU General Data Protection Regulation have also been taken into account in the drafting of the Protocol.

73 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian):

The video recording of the sitting can be viewed later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Gunnar Paal,

631 6351, 5190 2837

gunnar.paal@riigikogu.ee

Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

 

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