The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment proposes that a number of amendments be made to the Aliens Act to combat the exploitation of foreign labour and to improve the status of victims of exploitation. The consultation process takes place on 9–30 October 2020.
The proposed amendments to the Aliens Act aim to prevent the exploitation of foreign labour, strengthen the legal position of victims of labour exploitation and create conditions for better detection of cases of labour exploitation.
“There has been a lot of public debate about the exploitation of foreign labour and I thank the media for highlighting the problems. We need effective measures to prevent exploitation. These legislative amendments will address the problems and make it easier to detect work-related exploitation,” Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen says.
Employees’ right to work to be extended, more severe sanctions for employers
It is proposed that the Act be amended to allow a worker to apply for employment by another employer in the same or another profession in the event of exploitation. In addition, the worker would be entitled to a new fixed-term residence permit for applying for a new job.
The proposal also includes new sanctions for employers and contractors acting fraudulently. According to the proposed sanction, a residence permit applied on the basis of work could be refused if the employer or contractor can reasonably be suspected of recruiting workforce from abroad for the purpose of circumventing entry regulations. The sanctions would also work in a preventive manner because of their significant impact on the employer’s or contractor’s ability to engage in business activities.
It is also proposed that the Finnish Immigration Service may refrain from issuing residence permits on the basis of work for a maximum period of six months. The proposal corresponds to the current procedure in place at the Employment and Economic Development Offices with regard to residence permit applications for workers and at the Finnish Immigration Service with regard to seasonal work permits.
Exploitation is a more widespread phenomenon than assumed and damages society and individuals. The exploitation of foreign labour typically involves, for example, underpayment, overly long working days without compensation, taking a payment for a job, denial of holidays or leave, denial of sick leave or neglect of occupational safety, indebtedness and inhumane living conditions. The risk groups for the exploitation of foreign labour include, in particular, workers sent from abroad in all sectors.
According to Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government Programme, measures to prevent exploitation of foreign labour will be taken into consideration in the reform of labour migration. On 13 March 2020, Minister Tuula Haatainen appointed an intersectoral working group tasked with preventing the exploitation of foreign labour more effectively, as outlined in the Government Programme. The proposed amendments were prepared by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in cooperation with the working group.
Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment
Olli Sorainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Sonja Hämäläinen, Migration Director, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment