We have listed some key changes to the Employment Contracts Act and the Working Time Act in this blog. The changes are valid of August 1st, 2022. The aim of the changes is to especially improve the rights of those in part-time and fixed-term employment relationships and those working variable working hours (so-called zero-hour contracts). Corresponding changes have also been made to the Maritime Contracts Act and to the legislation on municipal employment relationships.
1) Changes that affect all employees:
A) Mandatory training is cost free to employees and it will be considered as working hours
(Employment Contracts Act Chapter 2 Section 19)
If the employer has an obligation based on law or a collective agreement to offer the employee training so that they are able to conduct their work, the training must be free of charge for the employee.
In addition, training must be counted as working time and, when possible, it must take place during regular work shifts.
The change does not create a new type of training obligation for the employer, but the training obligation must be based on a provision of a law or a collective agreement. The order also does not apply to the pre-employment training or training of an employee dismissed on economic productive grounds. (Chapter 7, Section 13 of the Employment Contracts Act.)
B) Information on principal terms of work
(Employment Contracts Act Chapter 2 Section 4)
The employer must provide the employee with a written explanation of the key terms of employment, if the terms are not stated in the written employment contract. If the contractual relations are repeated, the statement does not need to be given again.
1) the domicile or business location of the employer and the employee;
2) the date of commencement of the work;
3) the date or estimated date of termination of a fixed-term contract and the justification for
specifying a fixed term, or notification that the contract is a fixed-term employment contract with a long-term unemployed person as referred to in chapter 1, section 3a;
4) the trial period;
5) the place where the work is to be performed or if the employee has no primary fixed
workplace, an explanation of the principles according to which the employee will work in various work locations;
6) the employee's principal duties;
7) the grounds for the determination of pay and other remuneration, and the pay period;
8) working hours
9) when the employee has varying working hours:
- a) in which situations and to what extent the employer needs labour
- b) days and times when the employer may demand the employee to work without a separate consent from the employee according to the Working hours Act Section 30 a
10) temporary agency work:
- a) name of the client company and residence
- b) estimated time of work
- c) an estimation concerning possible other positions provided by the employer
11) a possible entitlement of the employee to have training provided by the employer based on legislation, agreement or practice;
12) how holidays are accrued;
13) the length of the notice period or the basis of how it is determined;
14) the collective agreement applicable to the work;
15) name of insurances companies that handle employee insurances;
16) in work abroad lasting at least one month:
- a) the country where the work is conducted, the duration of the work, currency in which the salary is paid, other monetary compensation and fringe benefits and terms of re-patriation;
- b) a description about terms of compensation of travels, lodging and food
The information referred to in points 1–8 must be provided within seven days of starting work. The information referred to in points 9–15 within one month after the of starting work. The information referred to in points 4, 7, 8 and 11 – 15 can be provided by referring to the law or collective agreement applicable in the employment relationship.
2) Changes that affect employees who have varying working hours
A) Evaluation of actual working hours
(Employment Contract Act Chapter 1 Section 11)
The change concerns employment contracts regarding variable working hours, i.e. so-called zero-hour contracts, employees who work only when needed, and employment relationships where the working time varies between 10 and 30 hours.
Variable working hours may not be agreed upon at the initiative of the employer if the need for labour is fixed.
The employer must proactively evaluate actual working hours and need for labour force. The evaluation must be made every 12 months or shorter period of time. The employer must inform the employee of the upcoming evaluation beforehand.
If the evaluation shows that the need for labour is greater than the agreed minimum working hours, the working hours must be defined higher if the employee so wishes. For example, if the working hours have been agreed to be 0 - 37.5 hours per week and the actual weekly working hours during the review period have been 5 hours per week, then the minimum working hours should be increased from 0 to 5 hours per week.
Absences, such as holidays, family leaves or sick leaves, from work are not taken into account in the evaluation.
The evaluation must be carried out for the first time no later than one year after the entry into force of the law (i.e. August 1, 2023) or when the employment relationship has lasted at least one year, depending on which date is earlier.
If the employer stops offering work completely, the employer must, at the employee's request, explain in writing the reasons for the reduction in the work offered. This provision applies only to those employment relationships where the minimum working time is zero.
B) Variable working time in shift planning
(Working hours Act Section 30 a)
The employee's consent is required to add a work shift in the shift list, if the working time:
1) of the shift would take place outside the agreed days or hours;
2) the shift’s working hours would exceed the amount of minimum working hours agreed in the contract.
In practice, point 2 means that the employer can demand the employee work for the minimum number of hours in the employment contract. If the employee's working hours had been agreed to be e.g. 10 to 37.5 hours per week, then the employee's consent would be needed for the part exceeding the minimum working hours (ten hours), which is entered in the shift list.
The employee may give the consent separately for each occasion or for a short period at a time.
C) Employee´s right to demand more secure form of working
(Employment Contracts Act Chapter 2 Section 6)
At the request of a part-time or fixed-term employee, the employer must give a reasoned answer about the possibility of extending the regular working hours agreed in the employment contract or the duration of the employment contract or changing the fixed-term employment contract to an indefinite one.
The answer must be given in writing within one month of the request. If the number of employees regularly employed in Finland by the employer is no more than 250, the answer can be given within three months of the request, and if the request is repeated, the answer can be given orally if the reasons for the answer have not changed since the previous answer.
The employer does not have to give a written answer if the employee has worked for the employer for less than six months, if circumstances have not changed or less than 12 months have passed since the employee's previous request.
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