Promotion of non-discrimination in working life

Employers must promote non-discrimination at the workplace. The obligation applies to employers at workplaces of all sizes. Employers providing regular employment for at least 30 persons must prepare a plan for promoting non-discrimination. The measures promoting non-discrimination and their effectiveness must also be discussed with the personnel or with personnel representatives.

Non-discrimination at the workplace can also be promoted by applying positive discrimination to employee groups at risk of discrimination.

Employers must take appropriate and situation-specific measures that ensure reasonable accommodation so that persons with disabilities are not discriminated against. Failure to observe this obligation is discrimination. If an employer declines to take measures ensuring reasonable accommodation, he/she must, on request and without delay, give the persons with disabilities the grounds for the decision in writing.

The injured party may claim compensation by bringing the case to a district court within two years of the discriminatory practice or the practice that was in violation of the prohibition of victimisation.

However, in cases involving recruitment, the claim must be presented within one year of the date on which the unsuccessful applicant had been notified of the recruitment decision.

When considering the seriousness of the case, the court must consider the nature, extent and duration of the offence. The amount of the compensation also depends on any compensation imposed under other legislation for the same violation against the person in question.

Employment Contracts Act

Under the Employment Contracts Act, employers may not discriminate against any of their employees. Equal treatment must be a consideration when employees are granted benefits based on their employment relationship and when obligations are imposed on them. Exceptions to the requirement of equal treatment are only permitted if there are justified reasons for doing so on the basis of the tasks and position of the employees. The prohibition of discrimination is applied in recruitment, during the employment relationship and when the employment relationship is terminated.

The Employment Contracts Act also prohibits the application of less favourable employment terms in fixed-term and part-time employment relationships merely because of the duration of the employment contract or working hours unless there are reasonable grounds for doing so.

Equality Act

Under the Equality Act, employers must promote equality in working life and prevent discrimination based on gender, gender identity or gender expression. Under the act, employers with at least 30 persons in regular employment must prepare a gender equality plan concerning pay and other employment terms.

Further information:

Guidance and supervision of labour legislation: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha)
Law-drafting: Jan Hjelt, jan.hjelt(at)tem.fi