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Latvia

Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Latvia on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

The most common ways of finding a job in Latvia include personal contacts, newspaper and radio job advertisements, employment agencies, recruitment firms and the internet, which has immensely broadened the options for job searches.

Bear in mind that in order to successfully find a job in Latvia adequate knowledge of Latvian is necessary. Latvian is the state (official) language in Latvia, and is used in all state institutions and in most workplaces. In your job search, knowledge of Russian – and, in some cases, English, German or Scandinavian languages – may prove useful.

The State Employment Agency (NVA)

The NVA is an institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare, and is responsible for implementing government policy in the area of reducing unemployment and providing support to the unemployed and jobseekers. The NVA provides services, consultancy and assistance to natural and legal persons in the area of reducing unemployment and providing support to the unemployed and jobseekers, and also to national and local authorities and non-governmental organisations.

Information on vacancies registered in the NVA database (available in Latvian only) can be found on the NVA homepage www.nva.gov.lv under CV UN vakanču portāls [CV and vacancies portal]. You can also upload your CV in this section to find work in Latvia.

If you are looking for a job and wish to receive assistance in your search, enrol in a retraining course or participate in other proactive employment activities offered by the NVA, or wish to apply for unemployment benefits, you must register with the NVA and obtain unemployed status. The NVA employees will advise you on available job vacancies, the rights and obligations of unemployed persons and jobseekers, professional suitability matters, the choice of a suitable profession and how to obtain new qualifications.

For more information about the services offered, see the State Employment Agency’s homepage: www.nva.gov.lv.

EURES – EURopean Employment Services

The EURES portal www.eures.europa.eu contains extensive information about living conditions and employment opportunities not only in Latvia but also in other European Union and European Economic Area countries. It is possible to receive free individual advice from NVA EURES consultants. Information about EURES in Latvia can be found on the NVA homepage: www.nva.gov.lv/eures (in English and Latvian).

Employment agencies

According to the law, job placement services (advice regarding employment issues, information on available vacancies, employment or other activities facilitating employment) may be provided by companies licensed by the State Employment Agency (NVA) to provide such services. Information on private employment agencies licensed to place individuals in jobs in Latvia and abroad can be found under Licencētās darbiekārtošanas firmas [Licensed private employment agencies] on the State Employment Agency’s website.

Only entities licensed by the Ministry of Transport may place individuals in jobs on ships. The list of entities licensed by the Ministry of Transport is available on the website of the Maritime Administration of Latvia under Jūrnieku reģistrs > Kuģu apkalpes komplektēšana [Registry of Seamen > Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers] www.lja.lv.

Starting a business

You may become self-employed or set up your own company. For information about how to start a business, please contact the State Revenue Service www.vid.gov.lv or the Enterprise Register www.ur.gov.lv, or consult the homepage of the European Commission ‘Your Europe – Business’ at www.ec.europa.eu.

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How to apply for a job

Applying for a job

Latvian employers usually ask applicants to send their CVs by email or to contact the employer by phone. Employers generally prefer to receive applications from applicants who fulfil all the requirements listed in the relevant job advertisement. In the CV, an applicant must describe their professional experience, qualifications and skills, highlighting the skills and experience that are relevant for the desired job.

When preparing your CV, pay close attention to the accuracy of the information provided, the language and style used and how it is presented.

The main thing to bear in mind is that the most important information should stand out. Your CV should not be more than two pages long.

Employers often also request a motivation or cover letter in addition to the CV, especially from applicants for higher-level positions. The cover letter is very important. It should be credible and convincing. Employers are looking for applicants who understand their business, their objectives and their market. Deceiving a potential employer about work experience or providing other incorrect information is unacceptable.

It is up to you whether to include a photo in your CV. Some employers ask for a photo, usually for jobs involving customer service.

If you wish to apply for seasonal or low-skilled work, it is usually possible to do so via telephone. .

Job interviews

All companies commonly conduct interviews and tests to determine psychological and personality traits or to assess practical skills. Employers pay attention to personal as well as professional qualities. It is very important to demonstrate motivation, ability and readiness to perform the job you are applying for. You need to be honest and explain what you could do to improve and in what way. You need to show that you really do want to work for the company offering the position.

In smaller firms, the job interview is conducted by the head of the firm or the line manager. In larger firms the interview panel usually consists of several people, including the head of the firm or relevant department, and a human resources specialist.

The employer will expect you to arrive on time for your interview. This demonstrates punctuality and a sense of responsibility.

The dress code will depend on the type of work and the position being applied for. It is important that you look neat and tidy. If the employer is a bank or government body, or if you are applying for an office job, you should choose business attire.

It is acceptable to shake hands when you arrive for a job interview, but do remember to wait for the employer to offer their hand first.

Interviews in Latvia are usually formal. It is assumed that the applicant has prepared for the interview and has knowledge of both the company and the position applied for. Applicants are permitted to ask questions about the job and their responsibilities to which they have not yet received an answer.

During the interview, the employer may not ask the applicant any discriminatory questions about their age, marital status or physical attributes (height, weight, etc.). In Latvia, it is prohibited during recruitment to discriminate on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender, social origin, language, political views, etc.

The employer will usually notify you of the outcome of the application procedure within two weeks of the interview, although some firms may not notify you at all. If you do not receive a reply within the stipulated time frame, you can call the employer and enquire about the outcome.

Concluding an employment contract

Before signing an employment contract, the employee and the employer should discuss the working conditions: remuneration, frequency of payment, working hours and overtime, the probationary period, additional benefits and other matters. Remember that in Latvia, an employment contract is concluded in writing. Wages and salaries in Latvia are usually paid twice a month.

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Finding accommodation

When you arrive in Latvia, you can stay in hotels or hostels for a short time until you find a place to live permanently. Information can be found on www.allhotels.lv.

If you would like to rent a flat or a house, check advertisements in the press, on the internet (http://reklama.bb.lv/lv/www.city24.lvwww.dzivoklis.lv; www.ss.com; www.incity.lvwww.niss.lv) or with real estate agencies (www.latio.lvwww.ober-haus.lvwww.rentinriga.lv). You can also visit www.1188.lv, where you will find a database containing a list of real estate agencies in Latvia under UzņēmumiNekustamie īpašumi [Enterprises→Real Estate].

You may also contact the local council to check if housing owned by the local authority is available for rent; however, such housing is normally only available in small towns or villages.

A rental agreement must be signed in writing and should cover all of the most important aspects, such as the price, duration of the agreement, terms of use, refurbishment expenses, etc.

The average monthly cost of an apartment in the capital city is between EUR 120 and EUR 780, which does not include utility bills (you will have to pay rent, water, electricity, gas, internet, phone bills, etc.). The price depends on the size, condition and location of the apartment and the owner may also request an advance payment.

The cost of renting an apartment in other cities in Latvia is normally lower than in Riga, but it will usually be at least EUR 70 a month. You should remember that owners may request payment of the rent in advance (1–3 months).

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Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

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Types of employment

Minimum age for starting work

In Latvia you may work from the age of 15.

In exceptional cases, children from the age of 13 may, with the written consent of a parent (guardian), while not having to attend classes, be engaged in work that is easy to do and does not undermine the child’s health and safety, for example, agricultural work, cleaning work, and door-to-door delivery of goods. Such employment may not impede the child’s schooling.

Starting work

Before a person can start working, the employer and employee must conclude a written employment contract.

An employment contract is considered to be concluded from the moment the employer and employee have agreed on the work to be done and the payment for the work, and on the employee’s acceptance from that moment onwards of the terms of employment set by the employer and the employer’s instructions.

An employee has the right to conclude employment contracts with multiple employers, unless the employment agreement or the collective employment agreement states otherwise.

Employment contracts in Latvia are normally concluded for an indefinite term. In specific cases it is possible to conclude an employment contract for a fixed term by duly justifying such a necessity, for example, seasonal or casual work, paid public work, etc.

An employment contract concluded for a fixed term will state the date on which the employment relationship terminates or the circumstances giving rise to the end of the respective job. The term of such an employment contract may not exceed 3 years.

If, upon expiry of the term for which an employment contract has been entered into, neither party has requested termination of the employment contract and the employment relationship effectively continues, the employment contract is deemed as entered into for an indefinite period.

Setting a probationary period

Upon the conclusion of an employment contract, a probationary period may be set to determine whether the employee is suitable to perform the work assigned. If a probationary period is not indicated in the employment contract, it is considered to be concluded without a probationary period. A probationary period may not exceed 3 months.

Probationary periods may not be set for people under 18.

Flexible forms of employment

Latvian employers mostly prefer traditional employment, although there is a growing trend to choose flexible forms of employment such as part-time work, contract work and fixed-term contracts. Remote work is a form of employment that has become increasingly popular in Latvia during recent years, for example, work at home that gives the employer and employee the opportunity to make working relations more flexible and also allows employees to combine their work with family life and social life and to perform their duties more independently.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

Seasonal work

Seasonal work in Latvia is legally defined primarily in the context of the duration of the employment contract. Normally the contract must be entered into for an unspecified time period, but in some cases fixed-term contracts are allowed, work of a seasonal nature is one of these cases. Cabinet Regulation No. 272. lists all the cases where the work being done is considered by law to be of seasonal nature. The Labour Law states two major exceptions from general rules for seasonal workers:

  • duration of the employment contract for seasonal work is fixed-term and must not exceed 10 months (Labour Law, Section 45); 
  • general regulation for weekly and daily rest periods does not have to apply if it is incompatible with the nature of the work. However working time itself must not exceed the standard time of 40h/week over the accounting period, which usually is 1-3 months (Labour Law, Section 140);

Seasonal workers in agriculture are entitled to a decreased income tax rate of 15% provided their employment is no longer than 65 days and their earnings don’t exceed 3000 euros (law “On Personal Income Tax”)

Third-country seasonal workers in agriculture, forestry and fishery are entitled to a remuneration which is no less than the average monthly gross remuneration in the corresponding sector of employment (Cabinet Regulation No. 225 “Regulations Regarding the Amount of Financial Means Necessary for a Foreigner and the Determination of the Existence of Financial Means).

All the legal acts of the Republic of Latvia can be found at https://likumi.lv/  in Latvian, some of the acts also have an English translation.

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Employment contracts

In order for employment to start in Latvia, the employer and employee must conclude a written employment contract.

An employment contract is drawn up in two copies, with one copy kept by the employee, and the other by the employer.

The Labour Law provides for two types of employment contracts:

  • permanent or indefinite-term employment contracts;
  • fixed-term employment contracts.

Employers must normally conclude employment contracts with employees for an indefinite term. In specific cases it is possible to conclude an employment contract for a fixed term by duly justifying such a necessity, for example, seasonal or casual work, paid public work, etc.

The employment contract states:

  • the first name, surname, personal identity number and place of residence of the employee and the first name, surname (title), registration number and address of the employer;
  • the employment start date;
  • the anticipated duration of the employment (if the employment contract is concluded for a fixed term);
  • the place of work (if a specific place of work is not designated for performing the duties involved, the fact that the employee may be employed at a number of locations must be indicated);
  • the employee’s profession (trade, craft) and a general description of the job for which they have been contracted;
  • the remuneration and time of payment;
  • contracted daily or weekly working hours;
  • duration of annual paid leave;
  • the notice period;
  • a reference to collective agreements and terms of employment applicable to the employment relationship.

In addition to the aforementioned information, the parties may agree on the inclusion of additional information; in such a case, the information must comply with the laws and regulations applicable to the employment relationship. Provisions of employment contracts may not undermine the legal status of employees.

The employer and employee may amend the employment contract by mutual agreement. Amendments to the employment contract must be made in writing.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

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Working time

Normal working hours and the length of a working week

A normal working day must not exceed 8 hours, while a normal working week is 40 hours.

The working week is fixed at 5 days. If, due to the nature of the work, a 5-day working week is not feasible, after consulting with employee representatives the employer may set a 6-day working week. If a 6-day working week is in place, the length of the working day may not exceed 7 hours. On Saturdays, work must end earlier than on other days. The length of the working day on Saturdays is stipulated in the collective agreement, terms of employment or the employment contract.

Overtime

Overtime is permitted if the employer and employee have agreed to it in writing.

Night work

A night worker is an employee who usually performs night work in accordance with a shift timetable or for at least 50 days in a calendar year. Night hours are understood as the period from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Shift work

If it is necessary to ensure uninterrupted operation, an employer may arrange shift work after consulting with employee representatives. In such cases, the length of the shift may not exceed the normal daily working hours for the respective employee category.

Working days before public holidays

The length of the working day immediately before a public holiday is reduced by 1 hour, unless the collective labour agreement, working regulations or employment contract provide for even shorter working hours.

This rule applies to workers with normal working hours. It does not apply to part-time workers. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, there is no requirement to reduce the working hours on the preceding Friday for workers with normal working hours.

Weekly rest periods

The length of weekly rest periods may not be shorter than 42 consecutive hours in any 7-day period. This rule may not be applied if accrued working hours are calculated.

If a 5-day working week is in place, employees are granted two rest days per week; if a 6-day working week is in place, one rest day is granted per week. Usually, two consecutive rest days are granted.

Sunday is the universal day of rest for the week. If it is necessary to ensure uninterrupted operation, an employee may be assigned to work on Sundays, giving them a rest day on another day of the week.

Work breaks

Every employee has the right to breaks if their working day is longer than 6 hours. A break must be granted after no more than 4 hours after the start of work. The length of breaks is determined by the employer after consultation with employee representatives, but they cannot be shorter than 30 minutes. If it is not possible to grant the entire rest break all at once, it may be broken up into parts which may not be shorter than 15 minutes each. Breaks are not counted as working time.

Work on public holidays

Employees shall not be required to work on public holidays. If it is necessary to ensure uninterrupted operation, an employee may be required to work on a holiday, but they must be granted another day off in lieu or be paid appropriate compensation.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

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Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

Paid annual leave

Every employee is entitled to paid annual leave. This leave may not be shorter than 4 calendar weeks, not including public holidays.

By agreement between the employer and employee, paid annual leave for the current year may be granted in instalments; however, one instalment of annual leave in a given year may not be less than 2 uninterrupted calendar weeks.

Cash compensation for annual leave is prohibited, except in cases where an employment relationship is terminated and an employee has not used up their paid annual leave.

Procedures for granting paid annual leave

Paid annual leave is granted every year at a set time in accordance with an agreement between the employer and employee or a leave timetable. When granting paid annual leave, the employer is obliged to take the employee’s wishes into account as far as possible.

An employee may ask for paid annual leave for the first year of employment if they have been continuously employed by the employer for no less than 6 months. The employer is obliged to grant such leave in full.

 Additional leave may be granted to employees if:

  • They have three or more children under 16 years of age or a disabled child under 18 years of age.  The duration of such additional leave is 3 working days.
  • Their work involves a specific risk. In this case, the additional leave may not amount to less than 3 working days.
  • They care for one or two children up to 14 years of age. In this case, the additional leave may not amount to less than 1 working day.

The collective agreement or employment contract may stipulate other cases in which additional leave may be granted (for night work, shift work, long-term work, etc.).

An employer may grant an employee unpaid leave at the employee’s request.

Work on public holidays

Employees must not work on official public holidays.

Official public state are:

New Year’s Day – 1 January

Good Friday – Friday (March/April)

Easter Sunday – Sunday (March/April)

Easter Monday – Monday (March/April)

Constitutional Assembly of the Republic of Latvia Convocation Day. Labour Day – 1 May

Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia – 4 May

Mother’s Day – second Sunday of May

Whitsun – Sunday (June)

Midsummer’s Eve – 23 June

Janis Day – 24 June

Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia – 18 November

Christmas – 24, 25, 26 December

New Year’s Eve – 31 December

Maternity and childbirth leave

Maternity leave (56 calendar days) and childbirth leave (56 calendar days) are aggregated and 112 calendar days are granted, irrespective of how many maternity leave days the pregnant woman has taken prior to the birth.

Leave granted due to pregnancy and childbirth is not counted as part of paid annual leave.

In principle, a woman taking maternity and childbirth leave retains her position. If this is not possible, the employer must provide a similar or equivalent job for the woman with equivalent working conditions and terms of employment.

Paternity leave

The father of a child is entitled to 10 calendar days of leave. Paternity leave may be granted immediately after the child’s birth and no later than 2 months after the birth.

Childcare leave

Every employee has the right to childcare leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Childcare leave lasts 18 months, and may be requested at any time until the child reaches the age of 8.

The period spent by an employee on childcare leave is counted as part of their total work service.

An employee taking childcare leave retains their previous job. If this is not possible, the employer must provide a similar or equivalent job for the employee with equivalent working conditions and terms of employment.

Study leave

An employee who is studying at any form of educational institution while continuing to work may, in accordance with the collective agreement or employment contract, be granted paid or unpaid study leave.

Employees sitting state exams or writing and defending theses are granted paid study leave of no less than 20 working days per year. If an employee receives lump sum remuneration, they are granted study leave with average remuneration or without it.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

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Remuneration

In the private sector, an employee and an employer agree on the salary before any work is started. Remuneration in state and local authorities is set by the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Local Government Authorities.

Employee remuneration usually depends on their profession and skills, as well as the company’s field of activity. The highest remuneration is in the ICT and finance sectors, as well as for specialists and managers of manufacturing companies.

The average hourly remuneration (gross) per profession is:

  • Engineers: EUR 9–12
  • IT specialists: EUR 12–18.50
  • Welders: EUR 6–8
  • Sales representatives: EUR 7.35–9.80
  • Warehouse workers: EUR 5.50–6.30

The average gross monthly wage in Latvia in the third quarter of 2019 was EUR 1 091.

 In Latvia, the minimum monthly wage is defined by the state. As of 1 January 2018, it should be no less than EUR 430 per month for standard working time (40 hours per week). The minimum hourly rate is calculated on the basis of the number of hours worked in the month in question.

Wages differ from one region to another: they are highest in Riga and the surrounding area, and lowest in Latgale in the eastern part of the country.

Employers are obliged to pay social insurance contributions for their employees.

Tax and contribution rates for employees:

Social security contributions amount to 35.09%, of which 24.09% is paid by the employer and 11% is paid by the employee.

Latvian taxpayer income is subject to a progressive personal income tax (IIN) of 20%, 23% or 31.4% depending on the level of income.

Employers are obliged to pay wages no less than twice a month, unless the employee and employer agree on monthly payments. Most larger companies pay wages by bank transfer to their employees’ current accounts.

When wages are paid, the employer must issue a payslip which shows the amount paid, the taxes withheld and the social security contributions paid, as well the number of hours worked, including overtime and hours worked at night and on holidays. The employer is obliged to explain how amounts on the payslip are calculated if an employee so requests.

Income is subject to a tax-free income threshold (the maximum amount of which is EUR 300 per month) and tax allowances for dependent persons (EUR 230 per month for each dependent person).

The annual tax-free income threshold and allowances for dependent persons also apply to residents of an EU Member State or an EEA Member State if they have earned more than 75% of their total income in Latvia.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

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End of employment

An employment relationship may only be terminated in the cases provided for in the Labour Law.

By mutual agreement of the parties

The employee and employer may terminate an employment relationship if they arrive at a mutual agreement. Such an agreement should be concluded in writing.

Upon expiry of the employment contract, if the contract has been concluded for a fixed term

The employment relationship ends on the day the employment contract expires. If such a term is not specified, the employer is obliged to notify the employee in writing about the expected termination of employment no later than 2 weeks in advance.

Termination of employment upon request by third parties

In the case of employees who are under 18, parents, guardians or the State Labour Inspectorate may request termination of employment if such a person performs work that endangers their health, safety, or morals or negatively affects their development or education.

Upon notice by either party (employee or employer)

An employee has the right to terminate the employment contract by giving prior written notice of 1 calendar month, unless a shorter notice period is stipulated in a collective agreement or employment contract. At the request of the employee, periods of temporary incapacity to work may be excluded from the notice period.

An employment contract may be terminated before the end of the notice period if the employer and employee agree accordingly.

An employee has the right to give immediate written notice of termination of the employment contract to the employer if the employee has a substantial reason which prevents them from continuing the employment relationship on the basis of morality and fairness.

During the probationary period, the employer and employee have the right to terminate the employment contract by giving 3 days’ written notice.

An employer has the right to terminate the employment contract in writing solely on grounds related to an employee’s behaviour or abilities, or on the grounds of organisational, technological or similar measures being undertaken in the company, for example, if the employee has seriously violated the employment contract or terms of employment without good reason, or if the employee is unable to perform the contracted work due to health reasons, etc.

Depending on the reason for dismissal, the notice period may be immediately, 10 days or 1 month.

An employment contract may be terminated if the number of employees in a company has to be reduced or in the case of collective dismissal.

An employer may not give notice of termination of an employment contract with an employee who is a member of a trade union without the approval of this trade union.

An employer may not give notice of termination of an employment contract to a pregnant woman; women in the post-natal period may not be given notice of termination for up to 1 year. If a woman is breastfeeding, termination is forbidden for the entire breastfeeding period. It is also prohibited to terminate an employee who is acknowledged as disabled, except in specific cases provided for by the law. Termination of an employment contract is permitted in the following exceptional cases: liquidation of a company or termination on grounds related to an employee’s behaviour.

In Latvia, employment may also be terminated upon retirement.

In cases where employees consider the termination of their employment to be illegal, they have the right, within 1 month from the date of receipt of the notice of termination, to appeal to the court to render the notice of termination of employment invalid. In case of a dispute, the employer, not the employee, is responsible for proving the legitimacy of the termination of the employment contract and its compliance with the prescribed procedure for the termination of employment contracts.

Additional information on employment rights can be found on the homepage of the State Labour Inspectorate: www.vdi.gov.lv (in English and Latvian).

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Healthcare system

Healthcare services are provided by state, municipal and private medical institutions. State-funded healthcare services are only available at medical facilities that have signed contracts with the National Health Service.

In Latvia, state-funded medical assistance is available to nationals and non-nationals of Latvia, as well as citizens of European Union Member States, European Economic Area countries and the Swiss Confederation, who reside in Latvia due to their employment or as self-employed persons, and their family. It is also available to foreigners who have a permanent residence permit in Latvia, to refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection, as well as to detainees and convicted prisoners. Other residents must pay for medical services in accordance with the healthcare facility or specialist’s price list.

Health examinations are mandatory for people whose work is associated with possible risks to the health of others (e.g. in the catering sector), employees whose health may be affected by harmful environmental factors at work and employees who have special working conditions. The costs of a mandatory health examination before commencement of work (commencement of employment) are borne either by the person concerned or the potential employer by mutual agreement. The costs of further health examinations are borne by the employer.

Emergency medical assistance

For emergency medical assistance in Latvia (NMP), dial the NMP service number (113) or the emergency rescue service number (112). These numbers can be called from both mobile phones and landlines.

In addition to the above numbers, the number 03 may also be used to call the NMP service from a landline.

For less serious illnesses or injuries, you can contact your general practitioner or call the GP consultation helpline on +371 66016001 (weekdays from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays, consultations possible in Latvian, Russian and English), or visit your nearest accident and emergency ward or hospital outpatient department.

Primary healthcare

In Latvia, primary healthcare is provided by general practitioners. The general practitioner along with a certified nurse or certified physician’s assistant provides healthcare services for patients at the general practitioner’s surgery or the patient’s home.

Every resident has the right to choose a family doctor, confirming the selection by registering with their preferred doctor. Registration is free of charge. To register, adults must present their passport. To register a child, the child’s birth certificate must be presented. Registration with a doctor can be done at the doctor’s workplace or at the patient’s home if the doctor is making a house call.

Each resident may only be registered with one general practitioner.

If you would like to receive state-funded medical treatment and pay only a patient’s contribution, you should find out the following before visiting a doctor:

  • whether the doctor or medical institution of your choice provides treatment funded from the state budget;
  • whether the treatment you need is funded from the state budget.

A visit to a general practitioner normally has to be scheduled in advance, and patients will be given an appointment within 5 working days of requesting one. However, each general practitioner is available at least 1 hour per working day to see patients with serious illnesses who do not have a prior appointment.

Inpatient and outpatient medical care

Residents may visit outpatient treatment centres to consult with specialists, undergo examinations, or receive other outpatient healthcare services. To receive hospital services as an inpatient, residents may visit treatment centres, which provide healthcare services covered by the state. When a patient receives state-funded healthcare services, they must pay a patient’s contribution.

See the Veselības aprūpes pakalpojumi [Healthcare Services] section of the National Health Service’s homepage www.vmnvd.gov.lv for an exhaustive list of patient contributions.

To receive a state-funded consultation by a specialist, have a diagnostic examination, or be treated in a hospital by paying just a patient’s contribution, a referral from a general practitioner or another doctor is usually required.

Dentistry

In Latvia, dental services, including visits to a dental hygienist, are funded from the state budget only for children under 18 and if the treatment is provided by a dentist or medical institution which has a contract with the National Health Service.

Purchasing drugs

Prescription and non-prescription drugs may be purchased in pharmacies. To purchase prescription drugs, you need a prescription issued by a general practitioner or a specialist. Prescriptions are issued free of charge, but the patient has to pay a patient’s contribution when visiting the specialist. No contribution needs to be paid if the doctor does not perform an examination of the patient or provide a consultation. A list of drugs paid by the state can be found on the website of the National Health Service.

For information about healthcare options and patient’s contributions, contact the respective healthcare facility, the National Health Service (www.vmnvd.gov.lv) or regional health insurance funds, or call the freephone number on 80001234.

If you received any S forms before you left your country (e.g. S1), please remember to register it with the National Health Service when you arrive in Latvia.

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Incomes and the taxation system

The average gross monthly wage in Latvia in the third quarter of 2019 was EUR 1 091.

Employee remuneration usually depends on their profession and skills, as well as the company’s field of activity. The highest remuneration is in the ICT and finance sectors, as well as for specialists and managers of manufacturing companies.

The average hourly remuneration (gross) per profession is:

  • Engineers: EUR 9–12
  • IT specialists: EUR 12–18.50
  • Welders: EUR 6–8
  • Sales representatives: EUR 7.35–9.80
  • Warehouse workers: EUR 5.50–6.30

Wages differ from one region to another: they are highest in Riga and the surrounding area, and lowest in Latgale in the eastern part of the country.

Latvian taxpayer income is subject to a progressive personal income tax (IIN). IIN rates in 2020:

  • 20% for total annual income of up to EUR 20 004
  • 23% for the share of annual income above EUR 20 004, but below EUR 62 800
  • 31.4 % for the share of annual income above EUR 62 800

Income is subject to a tax-free income threshold and tax allowances for dependent persons. The tax-free income threshold is different for each person and is calculated using a special formula which takes into account the person’s annual taxable income. As of 2020, the maximum annual tax-free personal income threshold is EUR 300 per month.

The tax allowance in 2020 is EUR 250 for each dependent person.

The annual tax-free income threshold and allowances for dependent persons also apply to residents of an EU Member State or an EEA Member State if they have earned more than 75% of their total income in Latvia.

All income received from paid work on which personal income tax must be withheld is subject to social insurance contributions. The current rate of social insurance contributions is 35.09% of the employee’s income (if the employee is covered by all forms of social insurance), of which 24.09% is paid by the employer and 11% by the employee.

The standard rate of value added tax is 21% and the reduced rates levied on certain categories of goods and services are 12% and 0%.

The rate of property tax is:

  • 1.5% of the land register value of land, buildings and engineering structures
  • On residential properties – 0.2% of the land register value if this is below EUR 56 915; 0.4% of the amount of the land register value above EUR 56 915 but below EUR 106 715; 0.6% of the amount of the land register value above EUR 106 715.

Excise duty is charged on alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, petroleum products, non-alcoholic drinks, coffee, natural gas and fluids for use in electronic cigarettes.

Customs duty is levied on goods that are imported from countries that are not EU Member States. The applicable tax rate depends on the type and value of the goods.

Annual motor vehicle duty must be paid by all legal entities and individuals who own vehicles registered in their name in Latvia. This tax must be paid in full before a vehicle can undergo a roadworthiness test. Car and motorcycle taxes must be paid to the state through the Road Traffic Safety Directorate before registration.

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Education system

The language of instruction at state and local authority educational institutions is Latvian. Education in other languages is available at private educational institutions and in ethnic minority education programmes. Anyone who receives primary or secondary education in a language other than Latvian should, at the same time, learn the national language and take the state language examination in accordance with the scope and procedure established by the state.

Improvement of professional skills or retraining must be carried out in the official language, if funded by the state or municipal budget.

Preschool, primary and secondary education at state or local authority schools is funded by the state or local authority. There are also several private schools in Latvia, which provide education starting at the preschool level. Private educational institutions may set their own tuition fees.

If the secondary education certificate/diploma has been obtained in a foreign country, this document must be submitted for expert assessment to the Academic Information Centre (AIC) in accordance with the Law on Higher Education Institutions.

Nationals of EU Member States and their children receiving education in Latvia are charged the same amount in line with the same procedures as nationals and permanent residents of Latvia.

Latvia uses a 10-point grading system, with 10 representing excellent performance. The grading scale is explained in greater detail on the AIC website.

The Latvian education system consists of 8 levels:

Preschool education (pirmsskolas izglītība, ISCED Level 0)

Children between the ages of 1.5 and 7 attend preschool educational institutions (nursery schools). Preparation for primary education is mandatory for children from the age of 5. Preschool education for children with special needs is provided in special preschool educational institutions.

Basic education (pamatizglītība, ISCED Level 1 and 2)

Primary education starts from age 6 or 7 and lasts for 9 years (from grade 1 to grade 9). Basic education is compulsory in Latvia. When graduating from primary school, pupils must take centrally set examinations, the number and content of which is determined by the Ministry of Education and Science.

Secondary education (vidējā izglītība, ISCED Level 3)

There are two types of curriculum at secondary education level:

  • general secondary (3 years at a secondary school (vidusskola) or grammar school (ģimnāzija); or evening (vakara/maiņu) and distance learning (neklātienes) schools;
  • professional secondary (1 to 4 years at a vocational school (arodskola) or vocational secondary school (arodvidusskola)). Vocational education institutions offer curricula for all sectors of the economy. Students may qualify for a state scholarship.

When graduating from secondary school, pupils must take centrally set examinations.

Post-secondary education (pēcvidējā izglītība, ISCED Level 4)

After completing general secondary education or vocational education, it is possible to attend continuing professional education programmes (lasting 1 to 3 years) or professional development programmes (lasting no less than 160 lessons, which can count as credits towards a professional qualification).

Tertiary education (ISCED Level 5)

A college (koledža) offers first-level professional tertiary education programmes. Colleges are independent educational institutions or study programmes in universities. Regardless of the name of an educational institution, college graduates have an equal status both in the labour market and as to further education, as the conditions for development and implementation of educational programmes are the same.

Bachelor or equivalent level education (ISCED Level 6)

Tertiary education can be acquired in colleges and universities, schools of higher education and academies.

A college (koledža) provides first-level professional tertiary education programmes.

A school of higher education (augstskola), an academy (akadēmija) or a university (universitāte) provides second-level professional tertiary education and academic tertiary education programmes.

Study programmes are classified as academic tertiary education programmes (bachelor’s degree 3-4 years, master’s degree 1-2 years) and professional tertiary education programmes (professional qualification 4 years, professional bachelor’s degree 4 years, professional master’s degree 1-2 years).

Tertiary education can be acquired via full-time or distance learning courses. There is a limited number of study positions funded by the state in every tertiary education establishment. Students may qualify for a state scholarship.

Postgraduate studies (pēcdiploma studijas, ISCED Level 7 or 8)

A master’s degree grants the right to continue studies in a doctoral programme lasting 3-4 years. Doctoral study programmes in Latvia are offered in the following fields:

Social sciences

Natural sciences

Law

Technical sciences

Humanities

After studying a master’s, it is possible to continue studying for a doctorate in a range of fields. Doctoral programmes last 3-4 years.

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Cultural and social life

Typical Latvian characteristics are reserve, self-reliance, independence and tenacity. To others, Latvians might seem unsociable, uncommunicative individualists but in reality they need a bit of time to develop trust and friendship. A typical Latvian saying is Runāšana – sudrabs, klusēšana – zelts (‘Speech is silver, silence is golden’).

People love to give flowers as gifts, and this is one of the nicest ways to show your appreciation of someone. Name-day celebrations, comparable to birthday parties, are popular in society.

Latvia’s inhabitants have a special relationship with storks; for example, if a stork makes its nest near a house, it is believed that the residents of the house have been specially blessed. Many people in Latvia still make homemade wine, beer and cheese. In summer, during the evening from 23 to 24 June, you will certainly want to take part in celebrating Midsummer’s Eve and Janis Day when the whole night is spent with much revelry, including searches for the mystical ‘flowering fern’.

Latvia is a land of many faiths, with the leading one being Christianity, divided into Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Baptists, Anglicans, Old Believers and other faiths. Apart from the major faiths, Judaism, Islam, Krishnaism, Mormon, Buddhist and other world religions are represented in Latvia. Latvia is also unique in having been able to preserve a comparatively high number of Old Believer congregations.

Latvia is a small but beautiful country with many interesting tourist attractions (the Baltic Sea coast, with sandy beaches in some places and pebble beaches in others, the Gauja National Park, which is nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland’, interesting natural formations found throughout the country, ancient cultural monuments, etc.). In Latvia and particularly in Latgale, handicrafts and other forms of expressing folk art, such as pottery, weaving, plaiting, etc. have deep roots.

Latvia has a rich theatre heritage and people enjoy going to performances. The song and dance festivals usually held in summer attract participants and spectators from around the world.

Sports are very popular in Latvia, including ice hockey, basketball, biathlon and bobsleigh. You can visit ice rinks, sports clubs and family leisure centres.

Riga can be considered the cultural metropolis of Latvia, with a great concentration of scientific, cultural and entertainment spots. Many museums have become important cultural hubs, where various public events are held on a regular basis.

See a directory of Latvia’s museums on: www.muzeji.lv

The new building of the National Library of Latvia, also called ‘Gaismas pils’ (Castle of Light) (www.lnb.lv) is a unique European landmark of cultural heritage.

To find out more about recent developments and news in this area, visit the portal of the Ministry of Culture:  www.km.gov.lv.

You will find web pages with information about relevant cultural events here: http://www.rits.lv/http://www.satori.lv/, etc.

To find out more about Latvia and tourism in Latvia, visit the following portals with information for tourists: www.latvia.travel/lvwww.vietas.lvwww.tours.lvwww.travelnews.lvwww.travellatvia.lv.

Details of cultural activities can also be found on local authority websites.

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