General Employee Rights in Finland
An employment agreement creates rights and obligations for its parties. The main obligations are the employee’s obligation to work and the employer’s obligation to pay salary.
An employment agreement may be oral, written, or electronic.
An employment agreement is valid indefinitely unless it has, for a justified reason, been made for a specific fixed term. However, agreements made for a fixed term on the employer’s initiative without a justified reason shall be considered valid indefinitely. It’s prohibited to use consecutive fixed-term agreements when the number or total duration of fixed-term agreements or the totality of such agreements indicates a permanent need of labour.
The employment agreement should contain at least the following terms:
- location of the employer and the employee
- work start date
- date or estimated date of a fixed-term agreement termination and the justification for specifying a fixed term or the notification that the agreement is a fixed-term employment agreement with a long-term unemployed person
- trial period
- place of work or, in the absence of a primary fixed workplace, an explanation of the principles according to which the employee is to work in various work locations
- employee’s principal duties
- work-applicable collective agreement
- grounds for the pay and other remuneration, and the pay period
- working hours (if varying, the employer must submit documents that indicate the circumstances and the extent to which they will need the employee to work.)
- annual holidays determination manner
- period of notice or the grounds for determining it
- duration, remuneration currency, monetary remunerations and fringe benefits applicable abroad, and the employee repatriation terms (if work is to be performed abroad for a minimum period of one month)
In addition, it should be noted that if the above-mentioned terms are not laid down in a written employment agreement, the employer is obliged to present them in written form.
In general, employment law regulation also applies to remote work if remote work possesses the characteristics of an employment relationship.
Remote work is optional for both the employer and the employee. This means that the employee doesn’t have an absolute right to demand access to remote work, all the while, the employer cannot force the employee to work remotely unless, for example, exceptional circumstances temporarily dictate doing that.
A workplace should clearly define remote work guidelines and rules since remote work involves both benefits and risks. However, the employer can also enable remote work through unilateral instructions. If the company employs 20 or more people, remote work policies should be discussed, like all other matters that fall under cooperation within the business regulations. In addition, if remote work is to be done regularly and full-time, the employer and employees should make a written remote work agreement as an annexe to an employment agreement.
Health and Safety
Employers are responsible for all occupational safety and health activities at the workplace. Regulations call for extensive responsibility over occupational safety and health from employers. Regulations require employers to monitor the working environment constantly and to identify the hazards and harms typically present. If the employer lacks the required expertise, they must use the services of external experts. Employers must study and prevent all accidents, health hazards, and other incidents. They must also monitor the impact of all actions performed on the health and safety of workers and, if necessary, take additional measures. Furthermore, employers must provide their employees with orientation training on the conditions and correct working methods of the workplace.
Employers are obliged to consider occupational safety and health already in the planning phase. The plans must support the safe and healthy conditions of the working environment and the work itself. Where appropriate, the plans must also consider the employee’s condition (e.g., health status, physique, ability to work under pressure, and physiological changes related to ageing).
In addition to the working environment, work planning and scaling must take employees' general physical and psychological properties into account. Furthermore, employers must make adjustments to support people with partial work abilities. The working environment and the planning and scaling of work are vital if an employee’s health is jeopardised due to work-related stress. In such cases, the employer must investigate the hazard posed by the stress factor and remove or reduce its impact. Actions must be taken immediately when the employer becomes aware of the issue.
If the employer decides to transfer the occupational safety and health responsibility, they must clarify what the transfer involves. At least the employer’s industry, the nature of activities, and the size of the workplace must be considered in the task definition. The employer must ensure that the people responsible for occupational safety and health at the workplace have the following:
- adequate qualifications for required tasks
- sufficient orientation and instructions for required tasks
- appropriate overall conditions for carrying out tasks (e.g., adequate power or rights to make rulings and decisions)
Senior and middle management and supervisors are all responsible for occupational safety and health.
The employer’s responsibilities are more extensive when (1) employees work for different employers or (2) independent contractors work simultaneously or consecutively at a common workplace.
If employers fail to comply with their occupational safety and health obligations, the occupational safety and health authorities have the responsibility to report any violations that are punishable by the occupational safety and health legislation to the police. There are specific criminal proceedings for events where employers fail to fulfil their occupational safety and health obligations.
The employer must provide a payslip to employees. The payslip can also be provided in electronic form if the employee can check the accuracy of the payslip also in electronic form.
The payslip must reveal the salary amount to be paid and the grounds for determining it, as well as the following:
- employer’s details
- employee’s details
- time for which the salaries are being paid
- basic pay (including the number of hours in the case of an hourly salary)
- various bonuses and allowances
- Sunday work bonus
- remuneration for additional work
- overtime remuneration
- other potential compensation
- fringe benefits
- deductions, such as tax withheld in advance, employment pension insurance contributions, unemployment insurance contributions, daily health insurance allowance payments, and other potential deductions.
If the employer doesn’t to give the employee a payslip despite the employee’s request, the employer commits a punishable offence.
Employee Protections in Finland
The right to gender equality and equal treatment
Employees have the right to be treated equally in similar situations, and discrimination is prohibited.
Employers must treat people of different genders similarly and provide them with the same rights and obligations.
Companies with more than 50 employees must (1) set up a whistleblowing procedure and (2) inform employees of the way to follow the procedure with guaranteed anonymity.
Whistleblower protection is based on EU Directive, and Finland is currently ratifying it.
Both national- and EU-level regulations apply to privacy protection at work.
The provision on the necessity requirement is the most important one. Employers can process personal data only if their business relationship with employees requires it. No exceptions can be made to the necessity requirement, even with employees’ consent. However, if the regulation contains specific provisions on processing certain data types, employers don’t need to determine whether the data is necessary for the employment relationship.
With the employee’s consent, personal data can be collected from sources other than employee-only. However, this consent isn’t required when a public authority discloses information to enable the employer to fulfil a statutory duty (e.g., distraint on salaries) or when the employer acquires personal credit data to establish the employee’s reliability.
As a rule, employers have no right to acquire information from an employee’s criminal record or request a criminal record extract from an employee. There are separate provisions for checking the criminal background of persons working with children and on their security clearance.
An employer who intends to acquire personal data on an employee to establish the employee’s reliability must notify the employee of the matter before requesting the data. An employer who intends to acquire personal credit data on an employee must notify the employee of the register from which the credit data will be requested. Suppose an employer retrieves personal data on an employee from a source other than the employee. In that case, the employer must notify the employee of this data before it’s used in making decisions concerning the employee.
National-level regulation contains information-processing restrictions concerning employees’ state of health and personal credit data. Employers may request a drug test certificate during recruitment or employment relationships only when the detailed conditions are listed in the regulation. Processing employees’ state-of-health information (including drug test data) must be limited by the protective measures in the regulation.
Employees who give their consent to testing may be tested using personality and aptitude assessments to establish their capacity to perform the work in question or their need of training and other professional development. Employers must ensure that they use reliable assessment methods.
Employers may operate camera surveillance at workplaces for only the following reasons:
- ensuring personal security of employees and other persons on the premises
- protecting property or supervising production processes and their proper operation
- preventing or investigating situations that endanger safety, property, or production processes
Camera surveillance may not be used to monitor a particular employee or a group of particular employees in the workplace. Moreover, camera surveillance may not be used in lavatories, changing rooms or other similar places, other staff facilities, or workrooms designated for employees’ personal use.
The regulation also includes the following provisions:
- for certain situations when camera surveillance can focus on a particular workstation
- for additional conditions to ensure transparency when implementing camera surveillance and destruction of recordings
- for detailed conditions that outline retrieving and opening employees’ electronic mail messages in situations when the consent of the employee cannot be obtained
In addition, the following measures are governed by the cooperative procedure:
- collection of personal data during recruitment and employment relationship
- purpose of, the introduction of, and methods used in camera surveillance, access control, and other technical monitoring of employees
- use of electronic mail and other data networks, and processing of information concerning electronic mail and other electronic communications
EU-level regulation (GDPR)
When employers process personal data, they must take appropriate measures to ensure that the data protection rights of employees are fulfilled. Employers are also required to facilitate the exercise of employees’ rights.
All data related to an identified/identifiable person is personal data. Information such as names, telephone numbers, location data, and data on the congenital diseases of the individual’s grandparents — all is personal data.
Employees have a right to the following:
- obtaining information on their data processing
- accessing their data
- rectifying their data
- erasing their data and ensuring it’s forgotten
- restricting their data processing
- making their data portable
- objecting to their data processing
- not being subject to a decision based solely on automated processing
Employers, as data controllers, need to follow six data protection principles when collecting, processing, and storing employees’ data:
- Ensuring lawfulness, fairness, and transparency of the data-collecting process
- Ensuring data use is limited to only the purpose for which data is collected
- Minimising the amount of data collected to only that which is necessary
- Ensuring data accuracy
- Limiting the amount of data stored to only that which is required
- Ensuring integrity and confidentiality of data
Employers are responsible for and must be able to demonstrate compliance with these principles on an ongoing basis and at any time. They must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure security appropriate to the risk.
In general, companies are prohibited from recording and storing the following information on employees:
- racial or ethnic origins
- political, religious, or philosophical opinions
- union membership information
- medical information
- sexual orientation information
However, the above-mentioned information can be recorded and stored if the processing is necessary for carrying out obligations and exercising specific rights of the controller or of the data subject in the field of employment and social security and social protection law in so far as it’s authorized by Union or Member State law or a collective agreement pursuant to Member State law providing for appropriate safeguards for the data subject’s fundamental rights and interests.
Infringement of GDPR provisions may be subject to administrative fines. In addition, the Finnish criminal code contains provisions on criminal punishment.
Required Employee Benefits in Finland
The pay plus 50% for the first two hours worked and plus 100% for each subsequent hour should be paid for daily overtime. The pay plus 50% shall be paid for weekly overtime.