Obligations of employees
Perform your work well and follow your employer’s advice and instructions. You and your employer both have rights as well as obligations.
- Work at a good pace but carefully; try to be quick, but do not be careless.
- Behave politely and appropriately towards everyone you meet at work.
- Follow your working hours; do not be late. Only leave work when your working hours are done. You cannot go home without permission, even if you get the work done before your working hours end.
- Tell your employer if you notice any issues that increase the risks at work, such as broken tools or missing protective equipment.
Do not share your employer’s secret information with others
You must not disclose business and trade secrets to others. This means that you are not allowed to tell secret information concerning your employer to outsiders. Secret information is information that could harm your employer financially. If you do not know which information is secret, ask your employer.
However, if you suspect that your employer is acting in violation of legislation or otherwise incorrectly, you can talk about it to a shop steward.
Do not work for another company during your employment if it affects your employer
You are subject to a ban on competing activity. This means that during your employment relationship, you must not work for a competing company if it causes harm to your employer.
If you have a zero-hour employment contract and your employer does not give you enough hours of work, you have the right to have more than one job.
If you make mistakes or break the rules, the employer may give you a warning verbally or in writing
If you make a mistake at work, leave a task uncompleted, or otherwise break the rules of your workplace, your employer may give you a warning verbally or in writing. This means that your employer tells you what you have done wrong and what you should have done instead. If you do not understand what mistake you have made, ask your supervisor to explain the matter in more detail.
If you have neglected your tasks, your employer may give you a warning. Such neglect may be, for example, if you have failed to comply with your working hours. Warnings are often given in writing, and the employer will ask you to sign the written warning. It is important that you understand the reason for the warning, and what you did wrong. If you feel that the warning is unnecessary, you can contest it. If necessary, you can ask for help from your shop steward or trade union.
If you repeatedly fail to comply with your employer’s instructions and receive several warnings, the employer may have the right to terminate your employment. If the mistake is serious, the employer can terminate your employment due to the single mistake. If this happens to you, and you think the employer has acted incorrectly, ask your shop steward or trade union for advice.
Work carefully and safely
The employer has the main responsibility for workplace safety, but employees also have safety obligations. Follow the safety instructions issued by your employer. Wear clothing that does not cause a risk of accidents, and use the protective equipment required for your work. Also take care of the orderliness and cleanliness of your workplace. Treat other employees respectfully and do not subject them to harassment.
If you notice any defects in the conditions, structures, machines, equipment, or protective equipment at your workplace, report them to your employer.
If a task causes serious danger to your life or your health, or the life or health of other employees, you have the right to refuse to perform the task.
Your employer has the right to manage and supervise your work
Your employer has the right to manage your work, i.e. the right to direct. The right to direct refers to the statutory right of employers to supervise and direct work.
The employer’s interpretation of legislation also takes precedence. This means that the employer has the temporary power to interpret what unclear parts of labour legislation, a collective agreement or an employment agreement mean.
Restrictions related to young employees
The Young Worker’s Act protects employees under the age of 18. Work must not damage a young person’s health or development, or cause harm to their education. Induction training and work supervision must be carried out particularly well for young employees.
The Act protects workers under 18 in the following ways:
- You can enter into an employment contract once you are 15 years old.
- If you are 15 years old and have completed comprehensive education, you can become a permanent employee.
- If you are 15 years old and have not yet completed comprehensive education, you can work half of your holiday time.
- At 14 years of age, you can be employed in work that is not too straining with your guardian’s permission. You cannot sign your employment contract yourself; instead, your guardian can sign it for you.
- If you are under 18, you cannot be employed in work that may adversely affect your health, development, or education.
Pay is compensation for work.
Your pay must not be lower than the minimum pay specified in the relevant collective agreement. ‘Minimum pay’ refers to the minimum amount that you should receive for your work. If there is no collective agreement for the industry you work in, your pay must still be reasonable. ‘Reasonable’ means that you should receive the amount of pay that is usually paid for other tasks similar to yours.
A variety of pay supplements also exist. Supplements are compensation paid in addition to your basic pay. You can be paid an evening work supplement, night work supplement, Saturday work supplement or a Sunday work supplement, for example. As an example, for work carried out on a Sunday, your receive 100 per cent more pay. Therefore, unless otherwise agreed in the relevant collective agreement, your pay is doubled.
Your pay will usually be paid to your bank account.
If you have a monthly salary, you will be paid once a month. The pay period will then be one month. The pay period refers to the period for which you are paid a salary at a time.
If you are paid by the hour, you will be paid every two weeks. Hourly wages are paid according to how many hours you have worked.
When you receive pay, you must always receive a payslip as well. A payslip has many names in Finnish; it can be called a palkkalaskelma, palkkakuitti, palkkanauha or tilinauha. The payslip details how much you have been paid, what deductions have been made from your gross pay, and how much money will be paid to your account, i.e. your net pay.
Every time you receive pay, you pay taxes and other statutory payments. This means that you will not receive the full amount agreed on in your employment contract to your account.
Always check your payslip carefully!
A payslip must include at least the following information:
- Name of employer
- Name of employee (your name)
- Pay period: the period for which the pay is paid
- Payment date: the day on which the pay is on your account
- Your gross pay (if you are paid by the hour, the hourly rate must also be indicated). The gross pay is the amount agreed on in your employment contract. For example, taxes have not been deducted from that.
- Overtime: if you have worked more than your normal working hours and your collective agreement has provisions on an additional amount or compensation for overtime, you will receive an additional compensation.
- Evening work, night work, Saturday work and Sunday work supplements and public holiday compensation: if you have worked evenings, nights, Saturdays, Sundays or on public holidays, you will receive the amount of evening work, night work, Saturday work or Sunday work supplements specified in your collective agreement. As an example, for work carried out on a Sunday you will receive double pay (100% more than on a regular working day), unless otherwise agreed on in your collective agreement.
- Income tax is paid from supplements as well.
- Fringe benefits: Fringe benefits are pay that is paid as a monetary compensation or a non-monetary compensation. For example, a phone given to you by your employer can be a fringe benefit if you do not need to pay for using it. A fringe benefit can also be a lunch benefit, a sports benefit or a car. Income tax is also withheld for fringe benefits.
- Deductions made:
- Withholding tax, or income tax: your personal tax card obtained by your employer indicates the percentage of income tax withheld from your pay.
- Pension insurance contribution: your pension starts accruing when you turn 17, and your pension insurance contribution will be deducted from your pay.
- Unemployment insurance contribution
- Health insurance daily allowance contribution (not deducted if the amount of annual income is low)
- Other possible deductions: e.g. trade union membership fee, if you are a union member, and you have agreed that your employer will calculate and pay the membership fee directly from your pay.
When your employment ends, the employer must pay you your final pay immediately, unless you have agreed otherwise with the employer in a contract or otherwise. If you have accrued annual holiday days during your employment that you have not held, you must receive them as money with your final pay as a holiday pay. The annual holiday compensation is also included in the final pay.
Sufficiency of pay
If you are a student, a part-time worker or have a zero-hour employment contract, your pay may not be enough to survive on. You can apply for and receive support from Kela.
Kela can grant a housing allowance, i.e. money to pay your rent or maintenance fee. The allowance can be granted for different types of housing, such as rentals or owned apartments. The amount of the housing allowance depends on the amount of your pay, study grant or unemployment benefit, and the amount you pay for housing. Housing costs include rent and water fees, as well as the maintenance fee for owned housing, maintenance costs and home loan interest.
You can receive social assistance if your pay or other benefits are lower than the amount of social assistance. You can also receive social assistance if you are unemployed and you are not entitled to any other benefits or financial support.
Are you having problems with your wages?
Keep a record of the hours you work and compare the record to your payslip. The employer must provide the employee with a payslip when the employer pays wages. Keep your payslips.
If you notice any errors or deficiencies in your pay, follow these steps:
1. Ask your employer to pay the missing amount. Send your request by text message or email.
2. If your employer does not pay the amount owed to you, regardless of your request, contact your trade union. If you are not a member of a trade union, you can contact your legal aid office or a law firm, for example.
If an employer is unable to pay because it does not have the money, apply for pay security immediately. You can receive the unpaid amount through the pay security system if your employer is unable to pay.
Act quickly! The pay security application must be submitted within three months of the date on which you were supposed to receive your pay.
When you work, a pension insurance contribution is paid from your pay. This means that you accrue your future pension by working. You can receive your earnings-related pension once you are old enough to retire. Sometimes people become incapacitated and can no longer work and receive pay. You can also receive a pension due to your spouse’s or parent’s death.
Your pension begins to accrue when you are 17 years old and a pension insurance contribution will be deducted from your salary.
If your accrued pension is low or you have not received any pay, you can receive a national pension paid by Kela and, possibly, also a guarantee pension.
Your employer will take care of your pension insurance contributions
Pension insurance is a mandatory insurance. Your employer takes out the insurance for you. All pay that you receive from any employer accrues your pension. Your employer will deduct the pension insurance contribution from all your wages. This deduction is specified on your payslip.
If you are self-employed, you must take out a self-employed person’s pension insurance policy.
Even if you change jobs or become self-employed or vice versa, information about your accrued pension will remain in the registers of pension providers and the Finnish Centre for Pensions. You can check your accrued pension from your pension record.
Working hours are the time you spend working or being available to your employer. Usually, time spent travelling between your home and your workplace is not considered to be working hours.
Different sectors have different working hours. According to law, regular working hours can be no more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. Shorter working hours are usually agreed on in collective agreements.
You can also work more than 8 hours at your employer’s initiative, but the employee must always consent to it.
Full-time work means that you work the full working day, usually on five days a week. The working hours are, at most, 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. For example, working hours for full-time work are usually 7.5 hours a day and 37.5 hours a week.
Part-time work means that you only work part of the working day or part of the working week. Employees work less hours in part-time employment than in full-time employment.
If you are a part-time employee, you are entitled to additional work. This means that if your employer needs more employees, your employer must first give you more hours before they can hire additional employees.
If you want to do more hours than agreed on in your contract, talk to your employer.
Additional work is work carried out in addition to the amount of work agreed on in an employment contract. However, the working hours cannot exceed 40 hours per week. Any additional work must be paid at the same rate as regular work at a minimum. You can also agree with your employer that additional work is compensated for as paid time off.
Additional work is carried out at the initiative of the employer and always requires your consent. You can give your consent to additional work each time separately, for a fixed term, or for an indefinite period. Consent to additional work can also be entered in the employment contract, but even then you are entitled to refuse additional work for a justified personal reason on the days that are marked as days off on your work schedule.
If you have agreed upon irregular working hours – for example, if you have a zero-hour employment contract – your employer may only have you carry out additional work on top of the hours indicated in your work schedule if you consent to the additional work separately each time or give your consent for a short period of time.
Zero-hour employment contracts
Zero-hour employment contracts are contracts that do not require your employer to offer you work. If your employment contract states that your working hours are 0–20 hours a week, it is a zero-hour employment contract. If you work for zero hours, you will get zero pay. Note that if your employer no longer offers you any work, you can request the employer to give a written statement on the reasons why there is less work on offer.
If your employer offers you a zero-hour employment contract, always try to agree on a minimum number of hours. With a minimum number of hours, you must always be paid for those hours even if your employer does not offer you work for those hours.
Employers are not allowed to offer zero-hour employment contracts if the need for the work covered by the contract is fixed.
Employers must review the number of hours worked by employees with zero-hour contracts at least every 12 months. If the number of hours worked during the reviewed period and the employer’s need for labour show that the employee’s minimum working hours can be raised, the employer must suggest raising the minimum amount.
A zero-hour employment contract is called nollatuntisopimus or nollatyösopimus in Finnish and can also be referred to as a variable hours employment contract (vaihtelevan ajan työsopimus).
Shift work and period-based work
Shift work or period-based work means that your working hours vary. You may have work on different days at different times. Your shifts can be morning shifts, day shifts, evening shifts or night shifts. Evening and night supplements are paid for evening and night shifts. You can find information about the supplements in your collective agreements.
Night work is carried out between 11 pm and 6 am. Shift work often means that you may also have night shifts. Usually, you receive a night work supplement for working nights.
Night work is more straining than day work, which is why the Working Hours Act places restrictions on night work. Night work is only allowed in specific jobs and situations.
As a rule, night work is prohibited for children under 18.
Overtime comprises work carried out in addition to regular working hours (8 hours a day). The employee’s consent is always required. This means that you do not have to consent to overtime. In addition, you cannot extend your workday by your own initiative; the initiative for overtime must come from your employer. The overtime must usually be agreed on with the employer separately and in advance each time.
You receive more pay for overtime than for regular working hours. According to the Working Hours Act, if you work more than 8 hours a day, you will receive
(1) 50% more pay for the first two hours worked overtime
(2) 100% more pay for the following working hours, i.e., your pay is doubled.
If you work more than 40 hours a week, you receive 50% more pay for all hours that count as overtime. You can also agree with your employer that overtime is compensated for as paid time off.
There are separate rules for overtime in period-based work. It is also possible to agree on overtime in a collective agreement.
Days off in lieu of shorter working hours
Having a days off in lieu of shorter working hours system (pekkaspäivät or työajanlyhennysvapaat in Finnish) means that you are given paid time off to reduce your working hours from the 40 hours allowed by law to the currently more usual 37.5 hours per week or, in shift-based work, to 36.25 hours per week. Days off in lieu of shorter working hours are agreed on separately in some collective agreements.
The employer must prepare a work schedule. It must include the following information:
- when the shift starts (day and time)
- when the shift ends (day and time)
- breaks included in working days
- which day is a day off.
You are entitled to receive your work schedule at least 1 week before the work week starts.
Also check what your collective agreement says about work schedules.
Always write down when and how many hours you have worked. Also save the work schedule provided by your employer. You can take a picture of it with your mobile phone, for example.
It is important to keep your own working hours records. It allows you to check whether your pay is paid correctly. If you have any disputes with your employer about your pay or other employment-related issues, your working hours record is proof of the hours you have worked.
When you work, you accumulate paid holidays. You accumulate holidays if you work for at least 35 hours a month or 14 days a month. If your employment has lasted less than one year, you will receive 2 days of holiday a month. If your employment has lasted more than a year, you will receive 2.5 days of holiday a month. In total, you will receive 24 days of summer holiday and 6 days of winter holiday.
Example: your employment has lasted 6 months and you work for 40–80 hours every month -> You accumulate 12 days of holiday.
You will be paid during your annual holiday even though you are not at work. This is called holiday pay. In many workplaces, employees are also paid a holiday bonus, which is around half of the total amount of the holiday pay paid.
If you are a part-time employee with less than 14 days or less than 35 hours per calendar month, you will not accumulate holidays. However, in such a case, you are still entitled to take time off and to the holiday compensation.
If you fall ill before or during the agreed holiday, notify your employer without delay, as you can ask the employer to transfer your holiday to a later date.
If you do not have time to keep all your holiday days during your employment relationship, you will be monetarily compensated for the accumulated days.
Breaks and rest periods
You have the right to take breaks during working hours. The Working Hours Act and collective agreements determine the minimum duration of breaks. The employer must comply with the provisions on breaks and rest periods laid down in the Working Hours Act and the collective agreement.
A meal break is a break during your workday allowing you to eat and rest. If your shift lasts at least 6 hours, you are entitled to a meal break of at least half an hour (30 minutes).
Usually, shifts lasting less than 6 hours do not include a meal break. The meal break does not usually count as working hours, which means that no pay is paid for its duration.
A coffee break usually lasts 10–15 minutes. You will usually also be entitled to a coffee break if your shift lasts less than 6 hours. Coffee breaks are part of your working hours, which means that you will be paid for the time.
Daily rest period
The daily rest period means that you have the right to rest between shifts, usually for at least 11 hours. In period-based work, the daily rest period is at least 9 hours.
Weekly free time
‘Weekly free time’ means that you are entitled to rest longer between work shifts once a week. Usually, the weekly free time is at least 35 hours. Sometimes it may be shorter, but it must always be at least 24 hours.
The employer is not allowed to disturb you during your weekly free time, which means that you cannot be asked to work during it. If possible, the day off must be a Sunday.
If you fall ill, you are entitled to be excluded from work. Notify your employer immediately and also inform your employer why you are absent. If your employer requires a medical certificate, you should visit your physician and send the certificate signed by your physician to your employer.
Your employer must pay you for the day when you fell ill and were unable to work. If you are sick longer, you must be paid for nine (9) days after the day your sick leave started. If your employment has lasted for at least one month, you are entitled to full pay. If your employment has lasted less than one month, you are entitled to half pay. Usually, better terms for sick leave have been agreed in the collective agreement. In this case, you will receive full pay for several days.
If you are sick for more than 10 days, Kela will pay you a sickness allowance. The amount of sickness allowance depends on your earnings. Kela can pays sickness allowance for around one year, if necessary. If your employer pays you your full pay when you are sick, Kela will pay your sickness allowance to your employer. If your salary is low, your sickness allowance is a little more than half of your pay. Tax is deducted from the sickness allowance according to your tax card.
If you are sick for more than a year, you should find out whether you are entitled to receive disability pension.
Illness of a child
If your child under 10 falls ill, you can stay at home. You will then be on temporary child care leave. It can last up to four working days.
According to the law, the employer does not need to pay you for the duration of a temporary child care leave. However, check your collective agreement; some agreements contain better terms. You may be entitled to pay for the duration of the temporary child care leave.
Time off from work
If you take time off from work to care for a child less than 3 years of age, you are on family leave. You and your family will receive support during a family leave, which means that you will receive an allowance from Kela. Collective agreements in many sectors include terms stating that the employer pays for a certain part of a parental leave, such as 3 months. If you receive pay during your family leave, Kela will pay the allowance to your employer.
Notify your employer of a parental or child care leave at least two months before your planned start date.
The allowance from Kela must be separately applied for. You can fill in the application in Kela’s e-service
or at a Kela office.
Mothers have the right to a maternity leave that lasts 105 working days (approximately 4 months). The leave starts 30–50 working days (approximately 5–8 weeks) before the estimated due time. Maternity allowance is Pregnancy leave is 40 working days and starts 30 working days before the estimated date of delivery. After your child is born, you can start your parental leave.
If you are pregnant and may come into contact with a chemical substance, radiation or a transmitted disease in your work that may pose a risk to the development of the foetus or the pregnancy, these hazards must be removed or you must be transferred to other safer duties. If suitable duties cannot be arranged, you may be entitled to leave work and receive special maternity allowance.
Paternity leave: Fathers can take up to 54 working days of paternity leave (approximately 9 weeks). The father can stay at home at the same time with the mother for about 3 weeks. Fathers can use the rest of their paternity leave when parental leave ends. The father will receive paternity allowance for the duration of the paternity leave.
After the maternity leave, the mother or father can take parental leave. Parental leave is 158 working days Parental leave starts after the pregnancy leave. Each parent is entitled to 160 days of parental leave. In single-parent families, the parent is entitled to 320 days of leave.
Kela pays parental allowance for the duration of a parental leave. Parents can also work part-time and take care of their child in turns. Kela pays the father and mother the partial parental allowance for this period.
Child care leave
After parental leave, you can take a child care leave to care for your child at home. You can stay on a child care leave until your child turns 3 years of age.
Kela pays a child home care allowance for children under the age of 3. The caretaker can be one of the parents or someone else, such as a grandparent or a hired nanny. The child home care allowance cannot be received if the child is in municipality-organised day care.
Part-time child care leave
You can also work part-time and take the care of your child at home by taking a part-time child care leave. You will receive less pay, but Kela will pay you a flexible care allowance. Kela pays flexible care allowance for children under the age of 3.
You can receive a partial care allowanceif you work shorter days, i.e. work less, when your child starts school. Partial care allowance is paid for a child in grade 1 or 2.
If you are pregnant or on family leave, you must not be discriminated against.
For example, the employer cannot terminate your employer due to
- your pregnancy
- you being on family leave
- you telling the employer that you intend to take family leave.
After family leave, you have the right to return to the same duties as before. If this is not possible, the employer must provide you with work that corresponds to your previous work to the extent possible. If this is not possible, you must be offered other work in accordance with your employment contract.
Unpaid time off
If you want unpaid time off for reasons other than child care or studies, you should agree on the matter with your employer. Make the agreement in writing.
Making an agreement is always voluntary. The employer has the right to refuse to give any unpaid time off. And vice versa – the employer cannot force you to take unpaid time off.
Some types of unpaid time off must be granted, such as child care leave or study leave.
Annual holidays usually do not accumulate during unpaid time off. This means that the number of your holiday days does not usually increase. However, the Annual Holidays Act includes a list of situations where holidays are accumulated during unpaid time off. These include family leave, and part of a study leave or a sick leave. It also possible to agree on a different system for holiday accumulation in a collective agreement. Check your collective agreement.
Also check whether you will receive the experience-based supplement affecting your pay during unpaid time off.
Usually, fringe benefits, such as occupational healthcare, company phones or meal benefits, cannot be used during unpaid time off. However, these can be agreed on in a collective agreement or at a workplace, so check the matter beforehand.
Military service and non-military service
You have the right to obtain leave from work due to mandatory military service or non-military service.
You must provide the employer with a document on starting your mandatory military or non-military service no later than two months before the service begins or as soon as you have been informed of the start of the service. The document must include information on being enrolled for the service and when the service begins. For example, you can take a copy of the document stating that you have been enrolled for military or non-military service and give it to your employer. The document must be provided to ensure that your employer has enough time to organise your work during your absence.
Your employer cannot terminate your employment due to the military or non-military service. The employment of employees enrolled to military or non-military service can only be terminated if the employer’s company shuts down its operations completely.
When your military or non-military service ends or if you discontinue your service, you must inform your employer no later than 14 days before that you are returning to work. You have the right to return to the same duties as before. If this is not possible, the employer must provide you with work that corresponds to your previous work to the extent possible. If this is not possible, you must be offered other work in accordance with your employment contract.
The employer does not have to allow you to work before 14 days have passed since you gave the employer your notification on returning to work. The employer and employee can agree differently on this together. You should notify your intent to return to work already during your military or non-military service if you want to start work immediately after your service ends.
Studies during employment
Study leave allows employees to study. Study leave allows you to take time off to study or get more qualifications.
You have the right to take up to two years of study leave within five years if you have worked for the same employer in one or more periods for a total of at least one year. You can take up to 5 days of study leave, if your employment has lasted for at least 3 months in one or more periods.
You can choose what you study during a study leave, as long as it is subject to official supervision. The studies do not have to be related to your work.
You must submit the application for study leave to your employer in writing well in advance before the beginning of the studies.
A lay-off means that the employer suspends your work and pay. This means that your work will end for the duration of the lay-off and you will not receive any pay during that period. The employer must inform you of the lay-off at least 14 days in advance.
You can be laid off if your employer does not have enough work for you. A lay-off may last a while, but your employment does not end.
During a lay-off, you have the right to accept other work and terminate your employment contract without notice.
When you register with the TE Office, you will receive unemployment allowance during the lay-off. Remember to register with the TE Office no later than on the first day of your lay-off.
Occupational healthcare services
As an employee, you are always entitled to occupational healthcare services. The type of your employment (e.g. full-time, part-time or zero-hour contract) or duration of your employment do not affect this right.
Employers must arrange occupational healthcare to help you look after your health and ability to work. Occupational healthcare also covers mental wellbeing.
According to the law, the employer, employees and healthcare provider must collaborate to make the workplace healthy for everyone. It prevents work-related injuries and accidents.
All employees have the right to seek advice on matters related to health and safety at work. You must also be informed that you have the right to receive advice from occupational healthcare services on how to stay healthy.
Employees must be treated equally in matters related to occupational safety and healthcare. The employer must ensure that short-term employees – such as fixed-term employees – are also entitled to occupational healthcare services.
Legislation obligates all employers to provide their employees with preventive occupational healthcare services. In addition, many employers voluntarily provide at least some medical care services. Your employer must inform you of the services included in the occupational healthcare services provided at your workplace.
What do occupational healthcare services do?
- They inform the employee of the risks related to their health and how to prevent them.
- They find out which aspects of the work are straining for the employees, how work has been organised, and which aspects pose a risk of illness, accidents at work or violence. This workplace survey must be kept available to the employees. Employers are obligated to arrange work in a manner that minimises health risks at work.
- They draw up a plan with proposals for improving wellbeing at work and assess whether health examinations are necessary.
- They carry out health examinations based on health risks associated with the work or to support the employees’ ability to work.
- They participate in planning good working methods, good workspaces and other methods to improve the working ability of employees.
- If necessary, they examine whether the work may cause an occupational disease, such as asthma, allergies or hearing loss.
- They support maintaining working ability.
- They support employees who return to work from extended sick leave.
What can you ask for from occupational healthcare services?
- Guidance on how to prevent health risks caused by work and how to cope at work.
- Health examinations to maintain working ability.
- Health examinations if you work in tasks that include a special health risk.
- Help in crisis situations, such as crisis support, if you are a victim of violence or a party to an occupational accident.
- An account of whether some aspect of your work is straining, i.e., making your work harder than normal.
Employees’ health information must be handled with care
Occupational healthcare services must always respect your privacy, and they must not provide your health information to your employer.
Occupational healthcare can include information on whether you are suited to your duties or whether there are restrictions related to your health on a medical certificate submitted to your employer. The medical certificate from a health examination can only be submitted to your employer, if your work is associated with special health risks.
Your employer can obtain information about your health from a medical certificate you provide in connection with sick leave, for example. Health information is personal data, and your employer is not allowed to disclose it to anyone.
Your employer must store all information related to your health separately from all other information held by the employer. Your health information can only be processed at the workplace by those who are responsible for paying your wages for your sick leave, for example.
The workplace must be safe and not pose a risk to your health. Ensuring this is the responsibility of the employer and the supervisors. This is provided for in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
You must always follow your employer’s instructions. For example, you must use the protective equipment ordered by your employer, such as a helmet.
Among others, the following factors may cause a hazard or risk to your health:
- noise, dust, cold, heat, toxins , vibration, radiation and electricity
- dangerous machinery and equipment
- being too busy and working too long continuously
- bacteria, viruses and mould
- poor work posture, too heavy burdens and damaged or unsuitable tools
- threat of violence, inappropriate treatment and sexual harassment.
If you notice a risk at your workplace, immediately notify your supervisor or occupational safety and health representative. If a task is very dangerous and it puts your life or health at immediate risk, you have the right to refrain from doing it until it is made safe.
The employer must ensure that nothing at the workplace causes an accident or illness.
Employers also have an obligation to insure you against accidents and occupational diseases. Insurance covers injuries suffered at the workplace or during your commute, for example.
Introduction to work
When you start a new job, the employer must guide or introduce you to your new tasks. This is prescribed by law. The introduction helps you learn more about your workplace, tasks and colleagues.
You need to obtain information, for example on
- your work and workplace
- the rules at the workplace, that is, instructions common to all
- the use of machinery and equipment
- the use of protective equipment (such as a helmet)
- carrying out work safely
- dangers and risks related to the work.
Data protection at work
The law protects your personal data at work. Your employer can only process the types of your personal data that are necessary for your employment. Even consent given by the employee does not have any impact on this.
Your employer can only request information from you directly. Your employer can only request information on you from elsewhere with your permission.
Your employer only has the right to process your health-related data when necessary:
(1) for paying your wages for the duration of your sick leave
(2) for determining why you have been absent from work
(3) if you ask your employer for a health examination to determine your ability to work, or if you suspect or your employer suspects that you are not healthy or fit to work.
Your employer must store all information related to your health separately from all other information held by the employer. Your health information can only be processed at the workplace by those who are responsible for paying your wages for your sick leave, for example.
Alcohol and drug testing
Your employer can only ask you to take a drug test before your employment relationship begins if requiring the test is justified. If you refuse the testing or the result is positive, the employer may choose to not hire you.
During employment, the employer may only ask you to take a drug test if your employer has a justifiable reason to suspect that you are working under the influence of drugs or that you have an addiction. Only a healthcare professional can perform a drug test.
If a workplace does not require drug testing, a substance abuse prevention programme must be drafted. The programme is a plan according to which employees are guided to seek help with substance abuse.
Your employer may use camera surveillance if it is highly necessary for the safety of employees, customers or property.
Your employer must not use camera surveillance to monitor a single employee. Camera surveillance may not be used to supervise break rooms, toilets and changing rooms, or office spaces.
The employer must inform the employees of camera surveillance.
Equality and non-discrimination at work
All discrimination, unequal or inappropriate treatment, bullying, and harassment are prohibited in working life. The prohibition on discrimination and unfair treatment means that everyone must treat each other fairly and equally at the workplace.
The legislation (Non-Discrimination Act, the Act on Equality between Women and Men, and the Employment Contracts Act) stipulates that the employer must not place employees in an unequal position. None of the following may affect the treatment of employees:
- ethnic origin or nationality: ethnicity or the country in which you were born
- the language you speak
- religion, beliefs or opinions
- political activities, being a member of a trade union or participating in the activities of a trade union
- family relationships, such as pregnancy or being on family leave
- state of health or disability
- sexual orientation:
- gender, gender identity or gender expression
- other personal characteristics.
If you or your colleague are discriminated against at the workplace, ask your employer to intervene. If the discrimination does not end, talk to a shop steward or call your trade union. You can also ask for help from occupational healthcare services or the occupational safety and health authorities.
The occupational safety and health authority
‘Occupational safety and health authority’ refers to the entities of the Regional State Administrative Agency responsible for occupational safety and health. Contact the Regional State Administrative Agency for the region where your workplace is located. The occupational safety and health authority supervises that employers comply with labour laws and advises people on matters related to labour laws.
If the occupational safety and health authority suspects discrimination within the meaning of the Criminal Code, they must notify the police.
The number for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is +358 295 016 620 (Monday–Friday 9 am to 3 pm).
Bullying and harassment at the workplace
Bullying and harassment are prohibited in working life.This means that everyone must be respected and treated well. In a good work environment, everyone is encouraged and no-one is discriminated against, bullied or harassed. The Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits bullying in the workplace.
Remember that you also need to be a respectful colleague. Be kind to everyone and appreciate the work of everyone.
What is bullying?
Bullying includes, for example:
- mean and demeaning words
- screaming, threatening, pressuring
- gossip, talking badly about others, spreading false information
- sexual harassment, or inappropriate touching or sexual speech that feels insulting
- refusing to speak to someone, isolating someone
- continuous criticism without a reason
- making work more difficult and unjustifiable division of tasks
- changing the terms of work agreed upon without your permission.
Not all behaviour that causes hurt feelings is bullying. For example, having different opinions or views on matters is not bullying.
What is harassment?
Sexual harassment includes:
- sexually suggestive gestures or expressions
- talk and jokes with sexual innuendos
- statements or questions about another person’s body, clothing or private life
- letters, emails, text messages or telephone calls with sexual innuendos
- proposals of or demands for sexual interaction.
Harassment based on gender includes:
- degrading, demeaning or mean talk about women, men or other genders
- dismissing someone based on their gender
- bullying related to a person’s gender.
Everyone has the right to bodily integrity. This means that violence or threats are always prohibited in your workplace.
If you experience violence, contact the police immediately.
What can you do if you are bullied or harassed?
Tell the person harassing or bullying you that their actions or words make you feel bad. Ask the person to stop.
If the bullying does not stop, immediately tell your employer about the bullying or harassment. According to legislation, employers must intervene with bullying quickly.
If you are afraid to talk to the bully, talk to your supervisor, workplace shop steward or an occupational safety and health representative.If you cannot get help, your trade union can help you.
If you intervene with discrimination, bullying or harassment, you must not be treated poorly because of this.
The occupational safety and health authority may issue a caution to an employer, if the employer acts against the law or if the employer has not drawn up a non-discrimination plan. The employer must rectify this. If an employer fails to do so, a notice of a conditional fine can be issued to them.