Estonia's minimum wage is among lowest in EU

Maksupettuse maht ulatus üle kolme miljoni euro.

PHOTO: Margus Ansu / Postimees

The 320-euro minimum wage valid in Estonia ranks among the lowest in the European Union, being higher than in Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic alone, it appears from a survey by Eurostat.

Among the EU member states, the gross monthly minimum wage ranged from 157 euros in Romania to 1,874 euros in Luxembourg in January 2013. Next from the bottom were Bulgaria with 159 euros, Latvia with 287 euros, LIthuania with 290 euros and the Czech Republic with 312 euros as gross minimum wage, or the sum before deduction of income tax and social security contributions.  

The top six countries, after Luxembourg, were Belgium with 1,502 euros, the Netherlands with 1,469 euros, Ireland with 1,462 euros, France with 1,430 euros and the UK with 1,264 euros.

Looking at the minimum wage in relation to average gross monthly earnings in industry, construction and services, the highest values were reported for Greece, 50.2 percent, Turkey (2010), 50.0 percent, and Slovenia, 49.0 percent, followed by France (2010) and Malta, both 47.4 percent, and Luxembourg, 46.7 percent. At the lower end of the scale the Czech Republic, Estonia (33.8 percent) and Spain reported minimum wages below 35 percent of the average gross monthly earnings. The respective ratios for Latvia and Lithuania were 45.1 percent and 41.1 percent.

When adjusted to differences in price levels across by applying purchasing power parities (PPPs) for household final consumption expenditure, the gross minimum wage ranged from 274 euros in Romania to 1,524 euros in Luxembourg. The countries with relatively lower minimum wages also have lower price levels and therefore higher minimum wages when expressed in PPS, Eurostat said. Comparing the ranking of the monthly minimum wages in euro with those in PPS, the most remarkable changes are for Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal, all moving by two positions.

In January 2013, 20 of the EU's 27 member states, or Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom, had national legislation setting a minimum wage by statute or by national intersectoral agreement.

Of the countries covered by the survey which looked also beyond the EU 27, those not having an established minimum wage were all the Nordic countries, plus Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.