Rights and Duties of Public Servants in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Jolanta Palidauskaitė


Purpose of the paper is to analyze rights and duties of public servants in three Baltic States paying attention to similarities and differences. Codes of conduct or ethics define not only standards for public servants ethical behaviour but stress some aspects of civil servants duties as well. Author analyzes codes of conduct/ethics that regulate everyday activity of civil servants in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
In first chapter general features of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuania civil service acts are presented. Legally defining duties of public servants possible to distinguish some similarities, such as: 1) requirement to follow the spirit of state laws, to serve public interests, to fulfil properly their official duties, 2) to obey and follow ethical principles in everyday activity, 3) to escape form certain prohibited activity which conflict with public servants official duties (get additional salary, conclude transactions, etc.).
Author points out seven differences in public servants duties. One of such differences is number of official duties: Estonian public servant has only 3 official duties, Latvian - 6 common duties, Lithuanian -11. Lithuanian law defines duties of public servants taking into account different their roles. In Latvian and Estonian case important is duty to follow the instructions of higher authority in hierarchy. Latvian law requires broader responsibility from civil servant taking into account reputation of organization and state civil service in general. Latvia and Estonia has tradition of public servants oath. In Lithuania this tradition existed according to Public service act of 1999 but after was abandon.
Three common rights of public servants in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are right to salary, holiday and education. Number of rights is similar: 10 in Estonia and 9 in Latvia and Lithuania. Estonian law stress many social aspects which are less defined in other countries. Latvian law describes rights related to certain office. Only in Lithuania civil servants can enjoy certain civil rights as to be members of political parties, trade union or public organizations, go on strike (with some exceptions), to be politically active after official time.
Estonia was the first (1999) in this region to create such code of conduct which is the first amendment of Civil service act and has status of law. Principles of ethical behaviour of civil servants in Latvia were approved by Cabinet of Ministers 2001. Instructions for the code were prepared by Civil Service Administration. There is no code of conduct for public servants in Lithuania but all public servants are obliged to follow ethical rules which functions as code’s equivalent. Author compares Estonian Public service code of ethics, Latvian Principles of ethical behaviour of civil servants and Ethical rules for public servants in Lithuania using the next criteria: purpose of the document, structure, content, ethical principles, implementation procedure.


rights and duties of public servants; ethical principles; codes of ethics or conduct

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603