Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 08:28 GMT

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Estonia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 7 June 2002
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Estonia, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Estonia is cooperating with regional governments, including Finland, Russia, Sweden, and Germany, to implement the STOP-Project, a European Commission initiative. This project aims to develop the means to chart and exchange information on international trafficking, uncover the organized crime activity surrounding regional trafficking networks, and explore the social consequences of trafficking and organized prostitution.[935]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Estonia are unavailable. In some instances, children peddle goods and beg on the streets.[936] There are also reports that children engage in prostitution, and women and girls are trafficked to Western Europe, the United States, and Asia.[937]

The Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act makes education compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 17, and basic education is free.[938] In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 94 percent, and in 1995, the net primary enrollment rate was 86.6 percent.[939]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Employment Contract Act sets the minimum age for employment at 18 years, although children 15 to 17 years old may work with the consent of a parent or guardian, and children 13 to 15 years old may work with the consent of a parent or guardian and a labor inspector.[940] Children under 18 years may not perform hazardous or dangerous work.[941] The Working and Rest Time Act limits the hours that children under 18 years old can work and prohibits overtime or night work.[942] There are no laws that specifically criminalize the trafficking of children, but offenses may be prosecuted under existing prostitution legislation. The Criminal Code prohibits the solicitation of juveniles for prostitution.[943] The Constitution prohibits forced or bonded labor, except military or alternative service, work required in times of natural disasters or catastrophes, or when fulfilling a court sentence.[944]

The Occupational Health and Safety Act delegates enforcement responsibilities for labor laws to the Labor Inspector Service.[945] The Government of Estonia has not ratified ILO Convention 138, but ratified ILO Convention 182 on September 24, 2001.[946]

[935] European Commission Stop-Project, Building up a Network for Monitoring, Analyzing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children [hereinafter Building up a Network], at on 10/9/01.

[936] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Estonia (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001), Section 6d, at

[937] Building up a Network. See also The Protection Project Database at and Helena Karlen and Christina Hagner, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Some Eastern European Countries, a study for ECPAT International, March 1996, 5. Statistics on the scope of the child sexual exploitation and trafficking problems are not widely available. A 1995 End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), study suggested that there were up to 4,000 prostitutes in Estonia, 20 to 30 percent of who were minors. See Women Aid International, Trafficking: Europe and North America, at on 10/9/01.

[938] Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act of 1993, Article 17(1), at on 10/9/01. See also Summary Sheets on Education Systems in Europe: Estonia, Education Information Network in Europe, July 2001, at on 1/10/01.

[939] World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [CD-ROM].

[940] These allowances are made only if the work will not endanger the health, morality, or education of the minor. See Republic of Estonia Employment Contract Act of 1992, Article 2 (1,2) [hereinafter Employment Contract Act], at on 10/9/01.

[941] Hazardous or dangerous work includes "heavy work, work which poses a health hazard or has dangerous working conditions, underground work, or work which endangers the morality of minors." A complete list of work that is prohibited for minors was determined by the government in regulation no. 214 of July 22, 1992. The following work is prohibited: work involving slaughter or destruction and processing of live animals and birds; work related to exploiting and promoting sex, violence, and gambling; and work where a minor is in contact with alcohol, narcotic, toxic, and psychotropic substances. However, the Employment Contract Act does not extend to work on family farms or family enterprises. See Employment Contract Act at Article 36. See also ILO, Review of Annual Reports: The Effective Abolition of Child Labor, Estonia, GB.277/3/2 (Geneva, March 2000) [hereinafter Effective Abolition of Child Labor], 272. See also Secretary Miko Haljas, Embassy of Estonia, letter to Maureen Jaffe, USDOL official, November 26, 2001.

[942] Working and Rest Time Act of January 24, 2001, Articles 8, 11, 20, 22, 27, at 10/9/01.

[943] Building up a Network.

[944] Constitution of Estonia (1992), Article 29, at on 10/9/01.

[945] Violations are provided for in the Criminal Code, para. 135. Occupational Health and Safety Act of June 16, 1999, as cited in Effective Abolition of Child Labor at 272. Generally, child labor laws are respected, and no cases of violations have been submitted to the courts. See U.S. Embassy-Tallinn, unclassified telegram no. 2353, September 2000.

[946] ILOLEX database: Estonia at on 10/9/01.

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