Remote work is carried out fully or partially outside the company’s premises, either from home or otherwise remotely.
Finnish employment law doesn’t expressly recognize the concept of remote work. In general, employment law regulation also applies to remote work if it fulfils the characteristics of the employment relationship. This means the same obligations must be followed in a standard employment relationship.
Remote work is optional for both the employer and the employee. This means that (1) the employee doesn’t have an absolute right to demand access to remote work, and (2) the employer cannot force the employee to remote work unless, for example, exceptional circumstances temporarily dictate otherwise.
The employer can enable remote work through unilateral instructions. However, remote work arrangements are usually agreed in writing or follow ground rules mutually agreed upon with the company’s employees. Clear guidelines and rules regarding remote work should be created at the workplace. 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. It should also be noted that if remote work is to be done on a regular and full-time basis, a written remote work agreement between the employer and the individual employee should be made as an annexe to an employment agreement.
Employers must keep records of employees’ working hours. This also applies to remote work.
The employer must supervise and ensure employees’ working conditions are healthy and safe. The need to enforce limits on working hours isn’t suspended when the work is performed outside the employer’s premises.
The employer must consider remote employees’ workday duration to prevent harmful stress and strain. However, employees must also be personally responsible for work arrangements and adequate breaks while working remotely.
Occupational health and safety
By law, the employer must ensure that work is performed under safe and healthy conditions, regardless of location, which includes remote work. Assessing hazards and harms is an essential part of this obligation.
Remote work is often performed at home or in conditions where the employer’s obligation to ensure safety is difficult to determine and assess. The constitutional right to domestic peace must also be considered in these cases. Employers together with employees must ensure that remote work is safe, ergonomic, and free from interruption.
Employers must also systematically monitor factors that cause harmful occupational stress and strain. Good planning increases employees’ well-being as well as productivity since no sick leaves happen due to physical or psychological strain.
However, employees must also be personally responsible for their well-being while working remotely. They must be able to self-direct their work, separate work and time off, and critically evaluate their work methods to identify potential risks. Occupational health care provides expert assistance in risk management through advice and instructions for various forms of work.
The employer’s statutory accident insurance is also valid in remote work. Occupational accidents refer to accidents that occur during work or while commuting. However, there may be insurance coverage limitations in the case of remote work. It is advisable to check the insurance policy terms and conditions beforehand.
Agreement on remote work
Compared to the usual way of working, remote work involves benefits and risks. Both should be considered when considering the workplace’s remote working practices and agreeing on remote working.
The employer is not obligated to create guidelines and rules regarding remote work or conclude a remote work agreement with the employee, but this is highly recommended. 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.
The following terms should be agreed upon:
the time when remote work is possible
remote work hours
remote work monitoring
sick leave policy
possible costs and distribution
Workspace Guidelines in Finland
Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure the employee’s workstation is correctly set up, safe, comfortable and easy to use to reduce potential injuries as indicated in the health and safety measures. In turn, employees must care for their health and safety and follow any reasonable policies or directions their employer gives them. They must inform employers of any work-related incidents or injuries that occur while working at home.
An appropriate workstation will include the following:
Right level of illumination, both natural and artificial light sources should not create glare on the computer
Sufficient lighting level for visual tasks to be completed without eye strain
The right level of ventilation and thermal comfort
Unobstructed exit path in case of emergencies, including electrical cords, uneven carpet, clutter
Suitable storage for documents
Employers must ensure employees access their workplace entitlements, including breaks, standard hours and any agreed-to flexible work arrangements.
The employer should have general working conditions and work from home policies in place, including a policy aimed at preventing and limiting employment-related psychosocial pressure. When working from home, the employer must avoid the chances of employees experiencing excessive work pressure.
Recommendations for employees working from home:
Take appropriate breaks every 30 minutes to ensure repetitive actions are not continued for long periods, and stand up at least once per hour
Stretch and change posture often, and if possible, an alternate activity
Check that you have a comfortable posture
Don’t do any lifting, pushing, or carrying type task beyond the physical capacity
Keep wrists in a neutral (straight) position—not bent up or down
Sitting posture is upright or slightly reclined, maintaining slight hollow in the lower back
Establish boundaries around work hours
Schedule regular meetings and catch-ups with the team