If the Latvian Constitutional Court rules in favor of medics, Latvia may have to pay them for overtime work since 2009 when the law establishing the so-called extended regular working time and denying them the right to overtime pay was adopted.
Lawyer Ivo Klotins told the press March 5 that a claim had been filed with the Constitutional Court, contesting an article in the Medical Treatment Law concerning overtime work, which the claimants say is discriminatory, unfair and therefore anti-constitutional. They want the article in question abolished retroactively as of July 1, 2009.
When asked whether the Latvia state would have to pay medics all the overtime pay they did not get in the last few years, if the Constitutional Court ruled to abolish this particular article, Klotins answered: "Theoretically, medics should receive overtime pay for the period since 2009".
However, neither the number of those overtime hours nor the amount of money that would be needed to pay for that overtime have yet been calculated.
"For now I prefer not to go into details about how much money will be needed for this. The main thing is that we have contested the article," the lawyer said.
Surgeons of the Children's Hospital and the personnel of the Riga Maternity Hospital have turned to the Constitutional Court, claiming that their overtime work rules were not fair and not in line with the Constitution.
The claim contests Section 53.1 of the Medical Treatment Law. Normally, employees who work overtime are paid compensation, however, medical personnel are not compensated for their overtime work in any way.
The claim says that this goes against the principle of equality, enshrined in the Constitution. The Latvian Health and Social Workers' Trade Union said on March 21 that the union's members were considering quitting working overtime effective June 1, unless agreement is reached on increasing medical workers' wages and on compensation for overtime work. The union's council will repeatedly review the matter on April 18.
Ombudsman Juris Jansons has expressed support for the medical workers' initiative.