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.