Starting work
Enter into a written employment contract
An employment contract is an agreement between the employee and employer on the rights and obligations of both, or the conditions of employment. Under the employment contract, you promise to carry out the agreed on work, and the employer promises to pay the agreed salary for it. The conditions of employment include salaries, salary extras, working hours, holidays and the right to training.
Once you have received a job, enter into a written employment contract with the employer. An agreement that is orally agreed upon is binding, but if you experience any problems with the employer, a written agreement can be consulted to see what was agreed upon at the beginning of the employment relationship.
If you do not enter into a contract in writing, the employer must still provide you with a written account of the conditions of employment. The account must be given within one month of the beginning of your employment relationship. If the employer does not provide you with an account, it is in breach of the Employment Contracts Act.
Before signing the employment contract, check that at least these matters have been written into it:
  • Name of the employer.
  • The name of your employee, that is, your name.
  • The day on which the work starts.
  • Is there a trial period in the work, and how long is it?
    • The purpose of the test period is to give you and the employer time to consider whether you would like to continue the employment contract. It usually has a maximum length of six months. During the trial period, the employee or employer may cancel the employment contract without a period of notice.
  • Is the work permanent (i.e. indefinite or continuous) or fixed-term employment, or is it an internship?
    • If the employment contract is fixed-term, the contract must specify why.
  • Where is the work done?
  • What are your tasks?
  • How much salary is paid for the work?
  • The date on which the salary is paid.
  • Working hours, or how many hours of work there are.
    • Full-time work usually refers in Finland to work 5 days a week and at most 8 hours a day. If you do periodic work, the working hours vary. However, it must comply with the collective agreement of the sector. In Finland, a separate compensation is paid for overtime and evening and weekend work.
    • If you sign a part-time employment contract, try to get enough working hours to receive a sufficient amount of salary. A minimum number of hours means that you will receive at least the number of hours promised in your employment contract. If, for example, 0-20 hours a week has been written in the employment contract, you may not receive any work or salary during some weeks.
  • Annual holiday.
  • Period of notice: how many days/weeks/months work will continue after you or your employer has terminated the employment contract.
    • The notice period is binding on both the employer and the employee. No one can be resigned immediately after the trial period.
    • The employer must always have a valid and cogent reason for the termination .
    • The employer cannot terminate a fixed-term employment contract before it ends.
    • The employee cannot resign, either, before the fixed-term employment contract ends, but often the matter can be agreed upon by negotiating with the employer.
  • Which collective agreement applies to your work?
Read the employment contract carefully before you sign it. If you do not understand anything, do not sign the contract. Advice is provided, for example, by
A collective agreement is different from an employment contract
A collective labour agreement is an agreement on the conditions of employment of the sector. The federation of employers and the trade union of employees negotiate it with each other.
There are separate collective agreements in different sectors (such as the restaurant sector, the cleaning sector, the construction sector, etc.). They specify the general conditions of employment in the sector, that is, the rules according to which work can be carried out and commissioned. The collective agreement determines, for example, how much salary must at least be paid to an employee and what the working hours are in the sector in question. The collective labour agreement is concluded for a fixed term, usually for 1-3 years.
The public sector – the state, municipalities and parishes – also has regular employees in a service relationship, whose salaries and other conditions of the service relationship are agreed upon in collective bargaining agreements on civil servant salaries.
The conditions of employment entered into the employment contract must be at least as good from the employee’s point of view as the conditions of employment of collective agreements. Conditions of employment better than those of collective agreements can also be agreed upon in an employment contract.
When you start at a new workplace, ask which collective labour agreement is applied there. You can obtain a collective agreement from your workplace or the trade union of your sector or from Finlex’s online service.
Labour law applies to all employers
In addition to collective agreements, the Finnish legislation regulates carrying out and commissioning work. They cover all sectors. Labour law prescribes what can be agreed upon in collective agreements and employment contracts. Salaries and other benefits may not be inferior to those stated by law and collective agreements. If your employer is not obligated to abide by a collective agreement, they must still abide by Finnish legislation.
Trial period
A new job may initially have a trial period. The employee or the employer can terminate the employment relationship during the trial period. Termination of employment during the trial period must not be discriminatory or inappropriate.
The maximum length of the trial period is 6 months. In a fixed-term employment contract, the trial period may not exceed half of the duration of the contract, but no more than 6 months.
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.
Shop stewards help you in work-related problems
A shop steward is often elected in workplaces with a collective agreement in place. A safety representative must be elected for a workplace of 10 or more persons.
Shop steward
Employees in a workplace who belong to a trade union can elect from among themselves a shop steward who represents employees and trade union at the workplace.
The shop steward supervises that the employer complies with laws and agreements. If you have problems with your employer, first ask the shop steward for advice. He discusses matters concerning employees with the employer on behalf of all employees.
The shop steward also informs you of the trade union of your sector and on joining it.
If there is no collective labour agreement in place at the workplace, employees can still elect a shop steward. The Employment Contracts Act defines the shop steward’s rights.
Safety representative
Under law, a safety representative must be elected at the workplace if at least 10 people work there.
The safety representative supervises matters related to the occupational safety of employees and knows the laws pertaining to them. He will respond if you have questions related to health or safety.
7 reasons to belong to a trade union
When you start work, join a trade union. In Finland, the majority of employees belongs to the trade union of their sector. You can also join a trade union already during you study time.
1 The trade union is on your side
It negotiates on your behalf on salaries and other conditions of employment with the employers’ federation. This results in a collective agreement that gives you better conditions of employment than those stipulated by law.
2 Shop stewards advise and help you at the workplace
The shop steward represents the trade union and supervises that the employer complies with the collective agreement. If you have problems with the employer, you can always report it to a shop steward who can investigate the matter with the employer on your behalf.
3 The trade union’s employment counselling will help you if you have problems with the employer
You can call your union and ask for advice. If required, trade union lawyers can help you to resolve any disputes with your employer, even in court.
4 Trade unions enforce the interests of employees when laws are decreed
Thanks to trade unions, in Finland the working week is 5 days; the working day is no more than 8 hours, and employees are entitled to holidays, overtime compensation and holiday payments.
5 The trade union provides training, events and a community
You can find information about the training and events provided by trade unions, for example, on the web pages or social media channels of your trade union.
6 Your unemployment benefit improves if you also join an unemployment fund
When you join a trade union, you can also join the unemployment fund of your sector. If you are unemployed, the unemployment fund can pay you a unemployment daily allowance. It is usually better than the basic daily allowance paid by Kela. If you only belong to an unemployment fund, but not a trade union, you can receive unemployment benefit, but the fund will not help you with any problems at the workplace.
7 You receive benefits and discounts
Members of trade unions may receive discounts in, for example, petrol, insurances or hotel prices. Some trade unions offer, for example, cheap holiday cottages.
How to join the trade union
If you do not know what your trade union is
  • ask the shop steward at your workplace
  • call SAK’s service number 0800 179 279
  • check your union’s web page at
Fill in the subscription form on the trade union’s web pages. You can find links to subscription forms at
If you need help, the shop steward at your workplace helps.
Members of a trade union pay ta membership fee to the union. You can pay the membership fees yourself or ask the employer to pay them from your salary.
Local trade unions and staff associations
When you are member of a trade union, you usually belong to one of its local trade unions or staff associations. The local trade union or staff association brings together all members of the same trade union working in the workplace or the company. There are also local trade unions and staff associations that include all members of the same sector or region, in which case employees from several different workplaces may belong to them.
When you start at a new workplace, remember these matters

1 Enter into a written employment contract

Do not sign the contract if you do not understand it, but ask for advice.

2 You are entitled to receive an introduction or guidance on work tasks and rules at the workplace

In the introduction, your tasks are explained to you and you are taught how to perform them in your new workplace as well and as rationally as possible.

3 Ask your employer which collective labour agreement is used at your workplace

You can get the collective labour agreement of your own sector from the workplace, the trade union or Finlex’s online service. If your employer is not obligated to abide by a collective agreement, it must still comply with the law. The law stipulates the general rights and obligations of employees.

4 Try to negotiate a minimum number of hours in your employment contract

The employer can offer you a zero-hour contract, which means that your employment contract only promises you 0-20 hours of work per week, for example. If you do not get working hours, you will not get a salary, either. For example, if 15 hours a week is entered as the minimum number of hours, you must be paid a salary for at least 15 hours.

5 Whenever you receive a salary, you must receive a payslip

Always check that your salary has been paid correctly.

6 Keep work shift lists

If you work according to a work shift list, always take a photograph of the lists, for example. Then you will know how much you have worked and when, that is, how much salary you should get.

7 When your employment relationship and employment contract end, check that you receive holiday compensation

If you have not used all your holidays during your employment relationship, a holiday compensation must be paid to you. You can see the amount of holiday compensation in your payslip.

8 When your employment relationship ends, always ask the employer for an employment certificate

When applying for a new job, you can show the certificates in the job interview.

9 Get to know the shop steward and the safety representative at your workplace

The shop steward and the safety representative discuss matters with the employer on behalf of all employees. The shop steward can help if you have problems with your employer.

10 Join a trade union

A trade union is an association whose members are employees in the same sector. The trade union agrees on the conditions of employment with the employers. Ask the shop steward of your workplace or SAK employee rights hotline about the trade union and joining it.

Cookie settings

Essential cookies

These cookies are necessary for the technical operation of our website and cannot be switched off. Functional cookies are critical for such abilities as browsing and using the features of our website.


These cookies only collect anonymous information about how our website is used. Analytics cookies help us to measure and analyse how our website is working. For example, we use these cookies to determine which website content is popular, and to ensure that visitors find content that is relevant to them. The information collected is statistical data and cannot be used to identify individuals. You may nevertheless opt out of these cookies at any time.

Targeting and advertising cookies

We may use these cookies for such purposes as enhancing the relevance and interest of the advertising that you view. Cookies may also help to make the content of our website more interesting to you. Information gathering is based on the unique identifiers of your browser or device. You may opt out of these cookies at any time.