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).
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.
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.