Employment Regulations

The regulations and rules governing employment contracts, such as its definition, process of beginning and ending the contract, basic right and rules of job protection are codified in the Employments Contracts Act, applying to blue-collar workers and salaried employees, while managing directors typically fall outside these provisions. Specific provisions are also provided for other categories of workers, such as seamen and agricultural workers.

Due to the prevalence of collective agreements in the Finnish labour market, Finnish employers are obliged to provide their employees with more beneficial terms than they would receive under the statutory requirements. The power of Finnish trade unions therefore plays a significant role in the Finnish employment landscape.

Contracts

Employment Contracts

There are several forms of basic employment contracts in Finland, administered under the Employment Contracts Act (ECA), which include permanent/fixed-term contracts, special contracts of employment, temporary agency work and probationary work. Employment contracts must be written exclusive of terms and conditions that may breach mandatory laws and provisions under the ECA or Collective Agreements Act (CAA).

Contracts may be written, electric or oral, and for employment contracts extending longer than a month, the employer is obliged to provide a written contract detailing the following terms:

  • Location of work
  • Starting date and/or probationary period
  • Primary duties
  • Normal working hours
  • Collective agreement terms
  • Salary calculations
  • Holiday entitlements
  • Duration of contract
  • Required period of notice

A main feature of the Finnish employment contract is that they are assumed to last indefinitely, unless a reasonable case or justification can be made for hiring an employee using a fixed-term contract for a certain period, or if the employee wishes to do so. A fixed-term contract does not need to be written, but the terms and conditions of the employment contract must be explicitly stated.

Collective Agreements

Collective bargaining of Finnish workers is regulated by the Collective Agreements Act which details to provisions for the terms of an employment contract negotiated between Finnish employers’ associations and trade unions. Collective agreements are very common in the Finnish labour market, with 80% of workers being members of a trade union. The collective agreements extend employment terms such as wage, salary, working hours, overtime, holidays, notice periods, etc. for the employee which are often more favourable than those stipulated under Finnish employment legislation. For example, Finland has no statutory minimum wage, but collective agreements specify minimum salaries for particular sectors which employers are obligated to comply with.

In Finland, collective bargaining is divided into three levels: national, industry and company. The industry level negotiations involve setting out terms related to rates and basic conditions for a minimum standard in a particular industry, which in most cases employers are bound to.

Employee Entitlements

Statutory Working Hours

Statutory rules for working hours in Finland are covered by the Working Hours Act. The act is a general law which applies to all sectors, and may be added upon by collective agreements that contain trade specific provisions on working hours. Working hours typically do not include travel time and any training time unless stated in the collective agreement or employment contract.

The standard working hours under the Working Hours Act is 8 hours a day with 40 hours a week maximum. Certain trades and services afford the benefit of flexible special working hours, such as hotels, transportation and telecommunications, where hours worked may be up to a maximum of 120 hours over three weeks. Any overtime which exceeds the weekly maximum hours worked will have a 50% overtime rate in the first two hours, and 100% thereafter. The rates may be subject to change in collective agreements. Generally, overtime hours should not exceed 250 hours per calendar year.

Collective agreements have sought to regulate working hours through reducing the weekly hours worked by 12.5 days a year, where some collective agreements in the industrial sector generally work for 37.5 hours a week only.

Employees are entitled to a total rest period of at least 11 hours for each 24-hour period, which may be flexible depending on any collective arrangements or provisions in the employment contract.

Working on Sundays

On a Sunday in Finland many businesses choose to close as Sunday is classed as both a religious day and a day of rest. However many businesses such as shops and restaurants do still open. The normal working hours for Sunday workers is 12.00pm – 21.00pm.

By law, any individuals required to work on a Sunday are to be paid double pay (100% bonus). They are also required to receive a timetable of the work shifts they are needed to work (highlighting the employees start and end times).

Each schedule of work shift has to be handed to the employee at least a week before the work period begins. Work shifts can be changed, of course with the employee’s consent, or when special occasions appear and the employer is unable to let the employee in advance.

Time Off Work

In order for a worker in Finland to earn their paid holiday entitlement they must first work a ‘holiday credit year’. This starts on the 1st April every year and ends on the 31st March the following year. An employee will earn themselves 2.5 days of holiday for each month of the ‘holiday credit year they work for, therefore giving them an overall 30 days of paid holiday per year.

Employees that have been working with the company for less that a year will only be able to earn 2 holiday days off work per month, giving them only 24 days per year. Another way holiday allowance can be managed is by using a collective agreement; however it must apply to the Finish holiday laws (as above).

Medical Leave

Workers in Finland are entitled to sick pay once they have worked for a company for one month, as long as they are able to provide a doctor’s certificate.

Sick pay during the first month of employment is usually 50% of the worker’s salary. According to Finnish law, workers can earn up to 9 days’ worth of sick pay, though this can be altered by mutual agreement.

If an employee uses up their sick pay allowance from their employers, they will receive around 70% of their salary from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA).

It is the employer’s responsibility to set up an occupational health service for their employees.

Annual Leave Accrual Entitlement

Under the Annual Holidays Act (2005), employees are entitled to 2.5 days of holiday for every full holiday credit month worked for employees working longer than 12 months, and 2 days of holiday per working month for those in employment contracts shorter than 12 months. Typically, there will be 30 days of holiday a year, equating to five weeks, or 24 days for those who have been working less than a year.

For employees to qualify for the accrual of holidays, they must work a minimum of 14 days or 35 hours during a particular month. Employees who have worked less than 14 days or 35 hours every month of the year are entitled to 2 days per holiday credit month.

The employer may grant the employee holiday leave in one of the two holiday seasons apart from exceptional circumstances. The summer holiday runs from May 2 to September 30 each year, while the winter holiday runs from 1 October to 1 May.

An employee is entitled to receive holiday pay for the period of his/her holiday, commencing when their holiday starts. Collective agreements have also incorporated a holiday bonus (loomaraha) amounting to 50% of the statutory holiday pay.

Paid Sick Leave Entitlement

The employer is liable to pay wages during sick leave, given that the employer is informed of the employee’s disability without delay. The employee is obliged to provide a doctor’s certificate containing a diagnosis to be eligible for sickness benefits.

The following statutory entitlements for employees who are on sick leave are as follows:

  • Full salary for 10 days for employment is longer than one month
  • Half salary for 10 days if employment is shorter than half a month
  • National sickness allowance based on the employee’s income is payable by Kela (Finnish Social Insurance Institution) under the Sickness Insurance Act (2004) for sick days after 10 days, up to a maximum of 300 days. The allowance is usually 70% of the employee’s salary, which decreases the higher the income.

For most collective agreements covering blue-collar workers, employers are obliged to pay salary from the second day lost through sickness up to 4 – 8 weeks depending on the employee’s duration of employment. Salaried employees are entitled to full pay from 4 weeks up to 3 months. At this time, the Sickness Allowance provided by Kela is instead paid to the employer.

Employees under a collective agreement typically receive greater benefits. Collective agreements have incorporated provisions for illnesses, including the omission of any sick pay if the illness or disability was caused deliberately or severe negligence.

Maternity Leave in Finland

Maternity leave is arranged for women during pregnancy and after childbirth is a means of protection for the employee and baby. The right to family leave is regulated under Chapter 4 of the ECA.

The employee may commence maternity leave from 30-50 weekdays prior to the birth of the child, and lasts 105 weekdays. During this period, the employee receives a daily maternity benefit from the Social Insurance Institution equal to 90% compensation rate for the first 56 days, and 70% for the remaining period. Most collective agreement provisions oblige the employer to grant the employee full pay in during the first two or three months of the maternity leave, where the maternity allowance is instead paid to the employer.

Parental leave is granted after the maternity leave period finishes, and lasts 158 weekdays. Either the mother or the father may take this leave, where a parental leave benefit is provided up to 70% of earnings.

The ECA contains provisions for child care leave as well, which begins after parental leave and lasts until the child reaches three years old. A child care benefit is payable for this period if the parents choose not to place the child in day care.

Employment Termination

Resignation / End of Service Payment

Compensation under Finnish legislation is dependent on the extent and justification of an employee’s unfair dismissal under Chapter 12 of the ECA. If the employer is dismissed without a just cause, the termination is considered illegal, where the compensation awarded to the employee may equal to 3-24 months’ pay. The extent of compensation depends on criteria such as:

  • Loss of earnings suffered by employee
  • Unemployment benefits awarded to compensate loss
  • Duration of employment relationship
  • Degree of guilt found on employer’s side

If the employer provides a valid reason for termination but not for termination without notice, the compensation equals to the pay for the period of notice.

Severance / Redundancy Pay

Suspension from work on medical grounds – The employee must inform the employer of any absence from work immediately. The employer is entitled to ask the employee to present them with a form of proof of sickness, such as a medical certificate.

Termination of Employment

There are many reasons for why an employer or an employee may choose to terminate an employment contract. However they both have a legal obligation to give the correct period of notice, stated in the collective agreement. An employer cannot end an employees contract without a weighty and justified reason, however if they feel that their employee is not longer fulfilling their job role correctly, then they have the legal right end their employment without a period of notice.

Other reasons for which an employer may not have to give notice are:

  • Serious breach or neglect of obligations of the employee, or such essential changes in the conditions necessary for working related to the employee’s person
  • The work has diminished substantially and permanently for financial or production-related reasons, or for reasons arising from reorganization of the employer’s operations.

A negotiation period up to a maximum of six months’ notice period may be negotiated in the employment agreement. If the employment contract fails to incorporate a notice period, the ECA and the collective agreements is responsible for defining an applicable notice period for both the employer and employee.

The employer’s statutory notice period differ depending on the duration of employment:

  • Up to 1 year employment – 14 days
  • 1 year to 4 years – 1 month
  • 4 years to 8 years – 2 months
  • 8 years to 12 years – 4 months
  • More than 12 years – 6 months

These notice periods are specified under Chapter 6, Sec. 3 of the ECA, and may be adjusted through negotiation of the employment contract.

The employee may give notice of termination without stating the reason. The employer may only dismiss an employee if they provide substantial reasons for termination. The list of applicable reasons are covered in the ECA, however each case must be evaluated individually.

During the notice period, employers must pay the regular salary to the employee, and the employee must work normally unless otherwise agreed.

Termination without a notice period is possible, although an extremely weighty justification for dismissal is required. If an insufficient reason for termination is provided, the employer is liable to pay compensation. Typically equal to the pay foregone during the notice period.

Probation Period

Parties may negotiate a probationary period up to a maximum of four months from the commencement of employment. If the employer offers the employee a training period that exceeds four months, the probationary period may be prolonged to a maximum of six months. The probationary period is strictly limited to no more than one half of the employment contract’s duration for fixed-term contracts shorter than 8 months.

During the probation period, either party is free to terminate the contract without notice effective immediately, except in cases where the termination by employer is due to discriminatory reasons or reasons against the probation period’s purpose.

Pension Requirements

The Finnish pension program is covered by two pension schemes: the National Pensions Scheme and the Employment Pensions Scheme. The National Pensions Scheme provides a minimum income and is a residence-based provision that covers all persons residing in Finland. The Employment Pensions Scheme is accrued for most earnings with no pension ceiling, accruing at the age of 18.

National Pensions Scheme (NPS)

The NPS offers a basic income for individuals with a very small earnings-related pension or those without any income-based pension at all. National pensions are administered by Kela, and are financed through employer contributions and tax revenues. The NPS under the National Pension Act is applicable to those older than 16 living in Finland, and includes old-age pensions, disability pensions, unemployment pensions, survivor’s pensions and early old-age pensions.’

Employment Pensions Scheme

Under the Employees Pensions Act (TyEL) is a mandatory benefit arrangement established through collective agreements which covers most of the private sector for earnings-related provisions. The TyEL provides protection for old age, incapacity for work, part-time pension, rehabilitation benefits, and farmers’ early retirement aid. The TyEL pension system is financed by both employers and employees and is administered under a decentralized system by pension insurance companies, company pension funds and industry-wide pension funds. These activities are coordinated by the Finnish Centre for Pensions (ETK).

Unemployment Benefits

The unemployment benefits in the Finnish labour market provide unemployment allowances via:

  • Basic Unemployment Allowance – Paid by Kela (Social Insurance Institution of Finland). Paid to registered job seekers who have been employed for at least 8 months in the previous two years. The allowance extends up to 500 days, and averages EUR551 per month. The amount depends on criteria like number of dependents and reasons for dismissal. Those who do not satisfy the conditions of the basic unemployment allowance may be eligible for the Labour Market Subsidy.
  • Earnings-related Unemployment Allowance – Paid by Unemployment funds. This allowance is paid to unemployment members of the unemployment funds. The allowance constitutes of a basic component, an earnings-related component and increases based on children.