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


  • Jolanta Palidauskaitė Kaunas University of Technology


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


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.