Holiday Leave in Finland
Employees accrue paid annual vacations in the course of their employment relationships. The number of days and the salary or compensation payable for that time are calculated based on the regulation and the collective agreement applicable to the employer.
The accrual of vacation days is calculated based on the holiday credit year from April 1 to March 31. If an employment relationship lasts for less than a year as of March 31, the employee is entitled to two vacation days for each full holiday credit month. If an employment relationship continues for a year up until March 31, the employee is entitled to two and a half vacation days for each full holiday credit month.
Most vacations are taken between May 2 and September 30. Remaining vacation days may be taken throughout the year or kept for later, provided both the employer and the employee agree. Employees receive their annual vacation pay when taking their vacations. They have the right to express requests when they want to take their vacations, and the employer must consider such a request. Ultimately, however, the employer has the right to determine the time of an employee’s annual vacation. The employer must treat employees equally when deciding annual vacation times, while employees must announce their desired vacation time at least one month (in exceptional cases, two weeks) in advance.
Generally, vacation pay must be paid before the start of the vacation. However, if a vacation isn’t longer than six days, the pay may be transferred on the company’s regular payday. The employer must give the employee a vacation payslip showing the payment amount and its calculation.
The employer must keep records of the employees’ annual vacations, additional leave days supplementing the annual vacations, carried-over vacation days, and all the remuneration and compensation paid based on the regulation. Such records must show the lengths and timings of annual vacations, the number and timings of additional leave days, the pay and compensation amounts, and the calculation method. Employers must give employees a recorded report of their annual holidays if they request it.
The employer and the employee can agree on the following matters:
- time off longer than 12 business days in one or more segments
- employee’s allocating an annual vacation in a period at the beginning of the calendar year, which contains the holiday season in question and ends before the start of the holiday season in the following year
- employee’s obligation to take time off exceeding 12 business days no later than one year after the end of the holiday season in question
- employee’s obligation to take annual vacation accrued before the termination of the employment relationship
- employee’s taking the portion of the annual vacation exceeding 24 business days in the form of shorter working hours (only at the employee’s initiative)
- employee’s saving up the portion of the annual vacation exceeding 18 business days for later (carried-over vacation).
Collective agreements may contain further provisions on annual vacation periods and the salaries or compensation payable during their duration.
A part-time employee working less than 14 days or less than 35 hours per calendar month doesn’t accrue annual vacation. Such an employee is entitled to free time and to holiday compensation. Holiday compensation is also paid for unused holidays at the end of an employment relationship.
Finland has 12 public holidays; however, only Independence Day (December 6) is a paid statutory holiday. The salary is equivalent to that of a full working day.
In addition, collective agreements may contain clauses according to which employees are entitled to receive and employers are obliged to pay salary on other public holidays.
Types of Leave in Finland
Employees prevented from performing their work by an illness or accident are entitled to sick pay. By law, sick pay is paid for the day when the employee falls ill when it would have been the employee’s working day and for each working day included in the following nine business days. Holidays aren’t counted as business days.
If the employment relationship lasts for at least one month, employees are entitled to full pay as sick pay. In employment relationships that last for less than one month, employees are entitled to 50% of their pay as sick pay.
Employees who observe variable working hours are entitled to pay during illness if their shift is already allocated. When fixed hours are agreed upon between employer and employee, the pay during illness is similar.
Payment of sick pay requires the following:
- The employee is absent from work due to incapacity caused by an accident or illness.
- The said incapacity isn’t caused wilfully or by gross negligence.
- The cause of absence due to sickness is demonstrated with reliable documentation.
- The employer is appropriately notified of the absence due to sickness.
- The accident or illness is the cause of incapacity such that the employee is unable to perform the duties specified in the employment agreement.
In addition, collective agreements often contain sick pay provisions that differ from the minimum provisions of the regulation. For instance, the pay period specified for sick pay is generally longer in collective agreements.
Employees are entitled to take leave from work when they receive maternity, special maternity, paternity, or parental allowance. The purpose of family leave is almost always to care for the employee’s child. However, family leave is also allowed for compelling family reasons, where the employee’s presence is required.
“Family leave” is a blanket term used when an employee
- takes maternity, special maternity, paternity, or parental leave
- takes child-care leave
- takes part-time child-care leave
- takes temporary child-care leave
- is absent from work for compelling family reasons
- is absent from work to take care of a family member or someone close to the employee
The family leave reform entered into force on August 1, 2022. The reform applies to families whose child’s expected delivery date is on or after September 4, 2022, or whose adopted child was taken into care on or after July 31, 2022.
Parental allowance is paid for a maximum of 320 working days. The 320 days of parental allowance is granted to the biological or adoptive parents who are the child's legal guardians or another person responsible for the children. The leave is divided equally between the parents, i.e., each parent gets a maximum of 160 days of parental allowance. A pregnant parent is also entitled to 40 days of maternity allowance in addition to the days of parental allowance, provided that the pregnancy has lasted at least 154 days. The parents aren’t obligated to use the entire 160 days quota themselves, but a parent may transfer up to 63 days of parental allowance to the child’s other parent or the person who takes care of the child.
Pregnancy leave usually starts 30 working days before the estimated due date, and parental leave usually starts after the baby is born.
The employer and the employee may agree on (1) an employee’s taking parental leave on a part-time basis and (2) the terms of part-time work. If the employer refuses to conclude a part-time parental leave agreement, they must justify this in writing.
Parental allowance may be used until the child turns two or until two years pass from the date when the adopted child is taken into the care of the family. The employee may take parental leave in a maximum of four parts, and each part should be at least 12 working days.
Employees are entitled by law to family leave but must also notify their employer as specified in the regulation. However, the employer may refuse partial child-care leave in certain cases.
Under the Employment Contracts Act, the employer isn’t required to pay wages for the duration of family leave. However, many collective agreements specify that wages must continue to be paid during pregnancy leave and temporary child-care leave. When the child is born, and as the child grows, the parents are entitled to various benefits paid by KELA.
Employees must notify the employer about their intention to take maternity, paternity, parental or child-care leave at least two months in advance.
Special cases for leave notification are as follows:
- The notice period is one month if the leave duration is no more than 12 business days.
- If the leave is to care for an adopted child, the two-month notice period must be observed whenever possible.
- If it isn’t possible to observe the two-month notification period because of the spouse’s employment start date, the employee is entitled to take a parental leave one month from the date of the notification unless this would cause a serious inconvenience to the employer’s operations. In the latter case, the employer must give the employee grounds for refusal.
Unless otherwise agreed by the employer and the employee, family leave may not be interrupted or its time changed except for a justifiable reason. Any interruption usually requires a significant change in the arrangements of caring for a child.
After family leave, the employee can return to their former job. If that isn’t possible, the employee must be offered equivalent work following the employment agreement. The employee must be offered other work following the employment agreement if that isn't possible.
An employee accrues annual vacation during maternity leave, special maternity leave, paternity and parental leave, temporary child-care leave and absence for compelling family reasons. The time equivalent of days at work accruing annual vacation is, at the most, 156 working days – i.e., approximately six months. The time equivalent of days at work is considered per one childbirth or adoption and not per holiday credit year.
A mother of an adopted child is entitled not to maternity leave but to a parental leave of 233 working days. A mother can receive a parental allowance for an additional 54 working days if the mother has adopted the child alone and has no spouse entitled to paternity allowance at the end of the parental allowance period.
When the employment relationship continues for more than a year, the employee is entitled to two and a half business days of vacation for each full holiday credit month. An employee accrues annual vacation during pregnancy, special pregnancy, parental leave, temporary child-care leave and leaves for compelling family reasons or informal care leave. These accrue a maximum of 160 working days’ equivalent of annual vacation.
An employee doesn’t accrue annual leave while on child-care leave. However, child-care leave doesn’t interrupt the employee’s employment relationship, so the time of the child-care leave is considered when calculating the duration of the employment. In other words, child-care leave doesn’t decrease the number of vacation days accrued when the employee is at work in that holiday credit year. If an employment relationship lasts over a year, the employee continues to accrue 2.5 vacation days per month while at work, even if the employee takes part of the year off for child-care leave.
Study leave is designed to allow employees to study.
Employees are entitled to this after a year of employment with the company. The leave is for up to two years in five years. Employees are entitled to five days of study leave if they have worked for the same employer for at least three months.
Study leave can be taken in one or more blocks. Alternatively, employees can work a few hours each day and take the rest of the day off to study.
Study leave is always granted based on the employee’s application. The application must be submitted to the employer before the studies begin: (a) in writing at least 45 days before if applying for more than five working days of study leave or (b) in writing or orally at least 15 days before if applying for no more than five working days of study leave. The employer and the employee can also agree on another method of application.
The employer must inform the applicant about the decision before the studies begin (a) in writing at least 15 calendar days before if the application is for more than five working days of study leave or (b) at the latest seven days before if the application is for no more than five working days.
The employer has the right to reschedule an employee’s study leave if their absence in the period would cause a considerable inconvenience to the business. The study leave can be postponed by up to six months. If the course the employee wants to attend is run at intervals of more than six months, the employer can postpone the leave until the beginning of the next course. The study leave can also be postponed if less than six months have passed since the employee’s previous study leave. However, the employer doesn’t have the right to postpone the study leave if the employee intends to conclude a training course or study began during their last period of study leave. The employer cannot reschedule the employee’s study leave arbitrarily, but only if the leave would significantly impede the employer’s business.
The employee can reschedule study leaves of more than five days if the new schedule doesn’t considerably inconvenience the employer. Employees who wish to reschedule or cancel their study leave must let their employer know in writing at least two weeks before they are due to start their leave.
Employees granted over 50 working days of study leave can end their leave early and return to work anytime. Employees on study leave who wish to return to work early must let their employer know at least four weeks before they intend to return.
The employer doesn’t have to take back the employee going on study leave until the employment agreement of any new employee hired to cover for the one on leave can be terminated by law or on the grounds of a collective agreement.
On the employer’s request, employees must present the employer with a written certificate confirming their studies.
Employees’ employment relationship continues to be valid throughout their study leave. Study leave is unpaid unless otherwise stipulated in the applicable collective agreement or agreed upon between the employer and the employee.
Employees accrue annual vacation during their study leave if they return to work immediately after their study leave ends. However, annual vacation is accrued over no more than 30 days of study leave during a holiday credit year (from April 1 to March 31).
The employer cannot terminate or cancel employees’ employment agreements because they have sought or taken study leave. However, being on study leave doesn’t prevent an employee from being given notice of termination on other legal grounds for dismissal.
Job alternation leave
Job alternation leave allows employees to take an extended period off work for no specific reason. Job alternation leave is an arrangement where employees are released from their work duties for a fixed period. A job alternation agreement is made in writing between the employee and the employer. The job alternation agreement and any other reports must be submitted to The Employment and Economic Development Office before the job alternation leave begins.
Job alternation leave is available for employees:
- who have had an employment relationship with the same employer for at least 13 months (This period may include a maximum of 30 calendar days of unpaid absence.)
- whose working hours total at least 75% of the working hours of a full-time employee in the relevant sector
- who have worked for at least 20 years prior to the beginning of the leave period
- who have worked for at least five years since they last took a job alternation leave
Job alternation leave can be at least 100 and at most 180 calendar days long. The job alternation leave granted may be extended if the employer agrees. The extension must be agreed upon two months before the current job alternation leave ends.
Employees taking job alternation leave are paid job alternation allowance for the duration of their leave. The prerequisite for paying job alternation allowance is that an unemployed jobseeker is hired as a substitute for the duration of the leave. The job alternation allowance is 70% of the unemployment allowance the person would be entitled to if unemployed. No annual vacation is accrued during job alternation leave.
Performing other work during the leave isn’t in line with the purpose of the legislation. but it isn’t prohibited. However, earned income and other earnings reduce the job alternation allowance paid.
If employees want to interrupt the granted job alternation, leave before it ends or return temporarily to work, they must agree on it with the employer.
The job alternation leave ends when the employee:
- is entitled to maternity, special maternity, paternity, or parental allowance
- is granted leave for more than 18 working days owing to pregnancy, childbirth or care for a child, or if the person is entitled to a special care allowance.
The job alternation is interrupted but not ended if either of the above lasts less than 18 working days.
After the job alternation leave, employees are entitled to return to their previous job. If this isn’t possible, the persons returning from leave must be offered equivalent work per their employment agreement or service relationship. Other kinds of work must be agreed upon between the employee and employer.