The psychology of the new Employment Contracts Act
The draft Employment Contracts Act – which had been discussed thoroughly and at length by social partners, with the parties finally reaching consensus on its main points – was presented to the public on the Estonian Television programme “Foorum”.
The response was not affirmative. Namely, four-fifths of callers found that that they were not satisfied with the new draft legislation, even before discussion had turned to the content of the Act. In this writer’s opinion, it showed that, at least with regard to employment relations, our intellectual world is still slumbering in the good old Soviet days, the period from which the provisions of the current employment contracts act predominantly date. The writer acknowledges that attitudes cannot be changed overnight, but that it is necessary to change them in the long run. The changes pertain primarily to how people see themselves. Everyone must perceive him or herself as a person who is in charge of shaping his or her own life, including dealings on the employment market. In the broad view, the new act grants employees the very same guarantees that they consider important in actuality – the sense of security that they will not run into trouble when making the switch to a new job, that enough companies are creating jobs with good earning potential, and that everyone can participate in training in order to be prepared for new challenges. A key change that is part of the new Employment Contracts Act is precisely the fact that the security paradigm will be transformed. Large redundancy payments will be replaced by generous unemployment insurance compensation and well-functioning assistance in finding a new job.