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Extending compulsory education will affect terms of employment for young workers

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 2.8.2021 11.18
Press release
A young cafeteria worker

Extending compulsory education to upper secondary education will cause changes to legislation concerning work carried out by people under 18 years of age. The starting point is that young people’s work shifts must not overlap with instruction that requires their attendance. The changes will enter into force on 1 August 2021.

The new Act on Compulsory Education entered into force on 1 August 2021. Compulsory education ends when the person reaches the age of 18 or when they complete an upper secondary qualification (a general upper secondary qualification or a vocational qualification).

Persons aged 15 years who have completed basic education can be permanently employed 

Under the Young Workers Act, an employer can hire a person who has turned 15 years and has completed compulsory education to an employment or public service relationship on a permanent basis.

As a result of the amendment to the Act, a young person aged 15 years, who has completed the basic education syllabus referred to in the Basic Education Act or whose obligation to complete the basic education syllabus has otherwise ended, may be admitted to permanent employment. Young people usually complete the basic education syllabus (basic education) in the year when they turn 16.

A young person who has completed basic education and who attends upper secondary education can still work part-time, for example, insofar as the work is suitable for them. It is also still possible to complete a vocational qualification as apprenticeship training based on fixed-term employment or public service relationship.

Before hiring a young worker, an employer must obtain a reliable account of the young person’s age and that their obligation to complete the basic education syllabus has ended.

The Act lays down the conditions under which young people under 15 years of age and those still attending basic education can be employed during the school year or holidays. The Act also contains terms under which a person aged 13 or younger may be hired to work temporarily as a performer or assistant at art and cultural performances or similar events. These provisions remain unchanged.

Employer to consider secondary school studies in work shifts

Attending compulsory education is a young person’s primary obligation. For this reason, a provision has been added to the Act concerning employees under the age of 18 who are attending post-comprehensive compulsory education, which usually is upper secondary education. Employers must arrange the working hours of such young workers in a way that does not preclude their participation in education. In order for the employer to plan work shifts, a young worker must inform the employer well in advance of any compulsory study attendance required of them.

If work and studies overlap, a young worker has the right to refuse a shift that would prevent them from participating in instruction.

These amendments also apply to work carried out in shipping and on fishing vessels. As before, persons who work at sea and on fishing vessels must be at least 16 years old.  

Act aims to protect young people

The Young Workers Act applies to work carried out by people under 18 years of age. The Act lays down, among other things, the conditions under which a young worker can be employed, the working hours and rest periods, and the requirements concerning the safety and health of work. The purpose of the special provisions concerning young workers is to protect them from excessive strain caused by work.

Elli Nieminen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 8247

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