Employment relationship

Minimum terms and conditions of employment are defined in legislation and collective agreements in different fields. The legislation and collective agreements determine, for example, minimum wages, working hours, holidays, sick pay and the terms of dismissal. Moreover, both parties – employer and employee – have rights and responsibilities during the employment relationship and when it ends. General rules in work life concern the fairness and non-discrimination at work, occupational health and safety and employment relationship.

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More information about employment relationship and rules of work life is available on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website. The Central organization of Finnish trade unions SAK has also made a comprehensive guide to working life in Finland for immigrants. SAK also offers a free employee rights advisory service for immigrants.

Employment contract and terms

It is always recommended to conclude your employment contract in writing. That way the terms are reliably verifiable at a later stage if necessary. The employee’s pay and other benefits may not fall below the minimum standards required by law or under the collective agreement.

The work contract should  include at least the duration of the job, working duties and hours, the wage and wage payment day, the period of notice and the collective agreement that governs your employment. If your work contract is temporary, there must always be a good reason (such as seasonal job, temporary project or replacing another employee) and this reason must be stated in the contract.

All employers are bound by the applicable collective bargaining agreements. There are only a few fields of work in Finland not under collective labor agreement. Most jobs in the tourist industry fall under the collective agreements governing the hotel, restaurant and leisure industry. When starting a new job, you should find out which collective agreement applies to your work.

Most jobs start with a trial period. This trial period must be agreed in advance and stated in the employment contract. A trial period may last for no longer than 6 months. The trial period in a temporary job may last for no longer than half of the duration of the job.

The employer must prepare a schedule of work shifts in advance. You are entitled to see the schedule of work shifts well in advance, and no later than one week before the working week begins. If there is a lot of work to do, then your employer may ask you to do additional work or overtime. You are free to refuse this. You are also entitled to daily breaks and rest periods between work shifts.

There is always period of notice if the work contract is terminated. The standard period of notice when you resign is usually 14 days. Employees cannot usually be dismissed before they have been warned and given an opportunity to correct their mistakes. A temporary employment contract cannot be terminated prematurely, and this applies for both, the employer and the employee. A layoff may occur if the employer has insufficient work to offer. It may continue for some time, but does not end your employment.

Salary and payments

There is no minimum wage in Finland, but usually the minimum wage is defined in the collective agreement. Your previous work experience, language skills and education may affect your salary. The salary stated in the work contract is always the salary before taxes and other deductions are made. Please make sure that you always receive your pay slip and check that your compensation has been calculated correctly.

Wages may be paid as a monthly salary or an hourly rate. Collective agreements in program service and hospitality industry (where most seasonal workers work) state that you are paid by the hours. Sundays and Finnish holidays are paid double, and you get two days off per week. Work times in these industries differ from the general work time (8 hours and 40 hours a week), for example, the work time is 120 hours every three weeks in program services and 112,5 hours every three weeks in hospitality industry. In seasonal work, the time of work is averaged across the season and many workers do long hours during the peak season, especially in December.

In Finland, you pay taxes based on your income. The more you earn within a year, the higher your tax percentage. Therefore, always make sure your tax card is up-to-date if your work situation changes. If your only staying for a few months for seasonal work, your tax percentage will be low, but if you get a permanent contract or extension, always order a new tax card. Besides taxes, other deductions such as social security contributions, insurance payments and pension are also deducted from your salary.

You will earn annual holiday as you work. If you cannot take all of your paid annual holiday, then you must receive cash holiday compensation instead.


Occupational health and safety

In Finland, an employee has the right to a healthy and safe working environment. Employers have a duty to be proactive in eliminating or minimizing the risk and harmful effects of work-related risks or illnesses. The employer is responsible for safety, and so you must always follow the employer’s instructions. For example, you must wear safety helmets and use any other protective equipment provided by the employer.

According to Finnish law, all kinds of discrimination at workplaces is prohibited. Employers must ensure that there is equality and equal opportunities for men and women at the workplace. Employers have a duty to intervene in all cases of harassment or unfair treatment that come to their attention.

As an employee, you are insured against occupational accidents and you have the right to occupational health care arranged by your employer. Occupational health services vary in scope and content. Occupational health care is free of charge to employees and you are always entitled to it, regardless of the nature and duration of the employment relationship. Ask your supervisor about the health services provided at your workplace. For example, workplaces may have a special agreement with the health centre or private health clinic Terveystalo.

If you fall ill or have an accident, you have the right to stay home from work. Your employer is responsible for paying you salary during your sick leave. If your employment has continued for more than a month before you fall ill, you will receive full salary for at least the day you fell ill and for nine days after the day you fell ill. Your employer is entitled to ask you to provide a doctor’s certificate about your illness. You should always notify your supervisor immediately if you fall ill and cannot come to work.

If you have questions concerning occupation health and safety, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website. In specific questions concerning your situation, you can also call the national counselling service of occupational safety and health authorities: tel. 0295 016 620 (Mon–Fri 9 am–3 pm).

Questions or problems concerning employment relationship

If you encounter problems in work life, always discuss with your supervisor first.

You can also contact the employee rights advisory service for immigrants. The service is provided by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade unions SAK. You can use the service even if you are not a trade union member. In the service, a lawyer answers questions about things like employment contracts, wages or working hours. You can get advice for free in Finnish or English.

The service is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9–11 am and 12 noon–3 pm.
Tel. 0800 414 004
E-mail: workinfinland(at)sak.fi
tel. 0295 016 620
Mon–Fri 9 am–3 pm


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