Employers’ right to temporarily derogate from working hours and annual holidays arrangements and periods of notice extended in healthcare and social welfare
The Government proposes that the period of validity of the decree issued under the Emergency Powers Act regarding exceptional arrangements for working hours, annual holidays and the employee’s notice period be extended until 30 June 2020. This is to enable the healthcare and social services sector to better respond to any acute personnel shortages caused by the virus epidemic.
It is essential to safeguard a sufficient number of skilled and qualified healthcare and social welfare personnel in the pandemic. The purpose of the decree is to prepare for a situation in which the capacity of critical functions of society is at risk due to the illness or quarantine of personnel, or the exceptional need for services caused by the disease situation.
Until 13 May 2020, exercising emergency powers was also permitted in rescue services, emergency response centres and police services. They would not be extended beyond 13 May 2020 in these services.
Employee safety and wellbeing at work to be considered
The decree allows employers to suspend or postpone the employee’s leave if deemed necessary. Meanwhile, the right of employers to order the time when annual leave is taken has been waived. This means employers are required to comply with the provisions of the Annual Holidays Act when determining the time of annual leave.
According to the decree, employers may order employees to work overtime without the employee’s specific consent for overtime, and deviate from the provisions regarding rest periods. Employers are also permitted to extend the notice period that employees are required to comply with to no more than four months if a shortage of labour due to the virus outbreak is imminent.
Employers may temporarily derogate from working hours and annual holidays arrangements only if legislation and collective agreements for normal conditions are insufficient to secure operations, and if this is necessary to safeguard operations. If employers do derogate from the law, they must take other measures to ensure the health and safety of employees.
This decree would extend the decree that came into force on 14 April 2020, which is in force until 13 May 2020. The proposed decree is based on a decree extending the period of validity of the implementation decree issued under the Emergency Power Act on 6 May 2020, which will be in force from 14 May to 30 June 2020. The decree proposed by the Government will be submitted to Parliament immediately.
The Government decision is available at tem.fi/paatokset (in Finnish).
Tarja Kröger, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 048 937