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Minister Aab: Good civil service can be provided by an educated and professional civil servant

17. September 2020 - 9:11

The state and municipal government institutions last year employed 27 628 civil servants, accounting for 4.2% of the total employment in Estonia. The institutions continued to restructure work in the fields, to offer a better civil service digitally, as well as in direct communication.

The Ministry of Finance released the civil service annual report for 2019. The report provides a summary of the most important developments and personnel indicators of state and municipal government institutions.

The expectations of people towards civil services are growing, according to the Minister of Public Administration, Jaak Aab and therefore on a daily basis their smarter and more flexible organisation is dealt wealth. "We are taking into use e-solutions, automating services, creating joint agencies and state buildings, as well as joining support activities", said Aab. "There will still be jobs and services that can and even must be done by people, even if some activities are replaced by machines. Investment into civil services also means an investment into civil servants.”

The public sector last year employed 132 333 people, which is 0.08% more than in the previous year. The number of public sector employees, starting from 2008 has decreased by 13 333 people or 9%. Of these, 27 628 employees worked in the civil service or the state and municipal government institutions, growing by 0.2% over the year. The number of civil servants (*), in seven years has decreased by 2322 persons or by 7.8%. The number of civil servants working in state institutions was 22 059 and in municipal institutions 5 569. More than one third of the civil servants were special agents, including police and prison officers, rescue officers, etc.
The average age of civil servants continued to be 43.5 years, but the expected life expectancy is increasing. There are slightly more women than men, yet there are more young men in special services.

The share of people with higher education in civil service is considerably higher than in Estonia as a whole. The share of people with higher education was 42% of all the employed in Estonia, while the share of civil servants with higher education is 61%.
The Minister emphasised that the civil service must go along with the global technological developments, especially in the current extraordinary situation, where due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to get used to working with increasingly more flexible ways and providing services. "Remote work has come to stay, including in the public sector. Adaptability is one of the competitive advantages. We must value and keep the people serving the country, recruit the best experts in their field and pay them properly", the Minister added.

The average monthly gross salary last year, of national officials was 1 877 Euros, increasing by 8.6% within the year. The average monthly gross salary of municipal government officials was 1 692 Euros, increasing by 5.3% within the year. The average monthly gross salary of the government sector was 1 494 Euros, increasing by 9.9% within the year. The average monthly gross salary in Estonia increased by 7.4%, rising to 1 407 Euros.

The Minister noted that for years, the salary level of state institutions has lagged behind the private sector, taking into consideration the complexity of the work. "There still is a lagging behind in salaries, in comparison to the private sector, despite the assistance in the last years of government decisions that have boosted the competitiveness of salaries, so that the private sector still pays more for work of equal difficulty, in comparison to people working for the state”, said Aab. "Last year, the average lagging behind of the monthly base salary in the state institutions, from the private sector median salary is 11,7%. The spread is even greater between top specialists. The lagging behind in salaries of top level national specialists and first level managers from the private sector is -18%.”

"The salary level of large groups of state employees, such as teachers, employees in special care institutions, rescuers, police officers, cultural workers have improved, which only brings joy", added the Minister. "The changes in their salaries affect the general indicators of salary increases on the whole. It must be additionally taken into consideration, when comparing figures that the percentage of employees with higher education, compared to the private sector, is a third higher when working for the state."

The report, in addition to the number of employees, provides an overview of labour costs, recruitment and choices, salary gaps, personnel turnover, development and training activities, ethics and the legal framework of the civil service. The report completed within the Ministry of Finance will now be presented to the Government and the Riigikogu for approval. It is possible to acquaint yourself (in Estonian), with the 2019 annual report of the civil service (PDF) and fact sheet (PDF) on the website of the Ministry of Finance.

(*) Civil servants are divided into officials and employees and data are comparable as of 2013, when the new Civil Service Act came into force. The civil service is a part of the public sector. Civil service is understood to mean, working for the institutions of state and municipal governments.