Medics to receive full overtime pay starting 2019, rules court

Latvia's Constitutional Court has ruled that a law stipulating "extended working hours" for medics is not constitutional, the court said May 15.

The court ruled the law to become ineffective starting 2019, and this means medics, like all Latvian employees should, will receive twice their hourly rate for overtime work.

The court said that the rules contradicted the Article 91 of Latvia's Constitution, namely, "All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts."

The Constitutional Court had been reviewing the matter since May 10 last year, after the country's ombudsman made a complaint.

The contested provision was introduced in 2009 during the economic downturn; it stated that medics could work overtime for up to 60 hours a week, for which they would only be paid the standard hourly wage.

In June 2017 the Latvian parliament agreed to phase out this provision starting 2020, but now it'll happen a year earlier. 

Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola told LETA that the Health Ministry and the Finance Ministry will seek a new solution to ensure an interrupted work of medical nurses, as additional payment for the extended working hours used to ensure sufficient personnel.

“The Health Ministry has been allocated sizable financing for raising medics’ wages, but the question is about a wise distribution of this money,” the finance minister said.

PM Māris Kučinskis said the government will comply with the Constitutional Court ruling. 

Latvia has been scrambling to boost medics' wages, attempting to keep them working in the public sector. Latvia's healthcare budget was boosted by €194 million, with the total 2018 budget surpassing €1 billion. 

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