Policy on the entry of workers due to essential work finalised
On 25 March, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointed a group of authorities tasked with assessing the entry of workers under exceptional circumstances while Finland’s borders are mainly closed. Based on the authorities’ assessment, the Ministry has prepared a list of tasks that are essential from the point of view of security of supply or critical for the operations of the sector in question, and for which workers must be granted entry into the country.
The restrictions on border traffic have made it significantly more difficult for foreign workers to enter Finland from abroad. However, the entry of foreign labour critical for security of supply and the functioning of certain sectors must be ensured even under emergency conditions.
Seasonal workers are particularly commonplace in primary production tasks. In the spring, workers arriving in Finland form a core group in the labour force. For a long time, these seasonal workers have carried out the work required for the start of the growing season and have ensured that it is safe for less experienced workers arriving in the spring and later in the growing season to carry out their work.
The use of foreign seasonal labour is particularly important in tasks requiring expertise gained from previous years’ work at the location in question. Alongside foreign seasonal labour, measures are also being prepared to secure the availability of Finnish labour.
Under the current exceptional conditions, the protection of public health is of the utmost importance in all activities, so any crossing of the border must be carefully justified. It is the employer's task to justify, on a separate form, that the task is essential for ensuring security of supply or the activities of the sector as referred to in the working group’s assessment. The employer must submit the form to the employee for presentation to the Border Guard in the event of a border crossing.
According to the opinion of the group of authorities, essential tasks requiring foreign labour are in the following sectors in particular: 1) agriculture, horticulture and fisheries, 2) the food sector, 3) energy supply, 4) maritime and manufacturing industries, 5) construction, 6) transport and communications, 7) chemical industry, 8) pharmaceutical and health technology industries and 9) the forest sector.
The Government has also outlined in more detail the conditions for entry of labour critical for security of supply in the administrative sector of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It has decided on measures for the first-stage reception of 1,500 employees in terms of the allocation of labour and the transport and quarantine of employees. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will soon inform operators about the measures related to entry in further detail.
Based on the assessment of the authorities, the ministries have compiled a more detailed list of tasks that must be carried out without delay and that, if not carried out, would have a significant impact on security of supply or the activities of the sector in question.
This sector-specific and task-specific assessment does not constitute an advance decision on who will be admitted into the country; the decision on whether or not a worker’s travel is essential will be made by the border check authority at each border crossing point on a case-by-case basis.
The other conditions for entry in force under normal circumstances must also be met. The Finnish Immigration Service will issue the necessary authorisation on the grounds that the employee is arriving in the country to perform a critical task in terms of security of supply.
Incoming employees will be given safety instructions related to COVID-19 in advance. All employees entering the country will be instructed to place themselves in quarantine-like conditions for a period of two weeks. Employers are responsible for arranging transport from the point of arrival to the place of quarantine.
When arranging quarantine-like conditions for employees, employers must observe the current THL guidelines for arriving passengers. If exceptional monitoring is needed at workplaces, the practical details of the monitoring measures can be agreed on with the healthcare authorities and organisations in the sector.
Sonja Hämäläinen, Migration Director, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7112
Veli-Pekka Reskola, Senior Officer, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 40 546 9065