Minister of Employment Haatainen: Three-point action plan to safeguard the functioning of the labour market

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 16.3.2020 17.40 | Published in English on 18.3.2020 at 14.03
Press release
Minister Haatainen

On 16 March, Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen decided on a three-point action plan to safeguard the functioning of the labour market in the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus. Firstly, the Minister has appointed a working group consisting of representatives from ministries, various authorities and social partners. The working group is expected to come up with quick solutions to address the problems. Secondly, labour market organisations are preparing proposals on the application of the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings in the current situation, and on the possibilities of implementing the crisis clauses of collective agreements. Thirdly, public officials have started preparing legislative measures affecting labour law as part of their regular duties.

“The coronavirus is hitting the Finnish labour market hard. It has a dramatic impact on small entrepreneurs and large listed companies alike. We have already seen, and will continue to see more layoffs, and eventually some redundancies. We need to do more than just secure financing for companies; we must also take action in the labour market,” Minister Haatainen emphasises.

Labour market working group

Minister of Employment Haatainen has called a high-level working group consisting of representatives from ministries, various authorities and social partners to assess the effects of the coronavirus on the functioning of the labour market. The working group will begin its work immediately.

The working group’s task is to propose actions to safeguard the functioning of the labour market, to prevent job losses, to avoid the bankruptcy of viable businesses and to safeguard the position of employees. The working group is chaired by Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen. 

“The Government, together with social partners, is now making every effort to reduce the number and severity of harmful impacts. The working group is expected to propose measures quickly. Based on the proposals, any measures deemed necessary will be taken immediately. Crisis preparedness must be built in the labour market. Steps must be taken to prevent bankruptcies of viable companies.” 

“Due to layoffs and redundancies, we need measures to protect employees. The working group will propose measures to improve employee protection in the event of restructuring,” says Haatainen.

The working group will be appointed for an indefinite term. It has wide-ranging representation from various parties in society.  More representatives may be invited to join the working group as necessary.

Labour market organisations prepare proposals

Minister Haatainen has been in active communication with labour market organisations over the past few days. In these discussions, the parties have reached a shared understanding of the role of central organisations in this unforeseen situation.

“I expect the labour market organisations to come up with proposals this week on the application of the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings due to the situation caused by the corona virus, and on the possibilities of implementing the crisis clauses of collective agreements. It is important to avoid unnecessarily heavy procedures, given the exceptional circumstances,” says Minister Haatainen.

Labour market organisations have also been asked to assess the effects of this spring’s labour market negotiation round on the functioning of the labour market in the changed situation.

Legislative measures in the field of labour law

Minister of Employment Haatainen has ordered public officials to launch immediate preparations to extend the application of the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings in sectors where a generally applicable collective agreement exists, and to enable the layoff of temporary employees. The changes will be implemented without delay. Social partners will be consulted during the preparation process.

Inquiries:
Jenni Karjalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 40 751 5496
Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 574 1430

Composition of the High Level Group

Chair: Tuula Haatainen, Minister of Employment

Members:

Antti Neimala, Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Employment and Well-Functioning Markets Department

Marja-Riitta Pihlman, Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Regions and Growth Services Department 

Raimo Antila, Director General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Ulla Hämäläinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Finance

Anita Lehikoinen, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Culture

Raisa Erma, Head of Unit, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Uusimaa

Tiina Korhonen, Director, Employment and Economic Development Office of Uusimaa

Markus Äimälä, Director, Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Confederation of Finnish Industries

Jarkko Eloranta, President, Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions 

Antti Palola, President, Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK

Sture Fjäder, President, Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland Akava

Jorma Palola, Chief Negotiator, KT Local Government Employers

Risto Lerssi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Office for the Government as Employer

Anna Kaarina Piepponen, Labour Market Director, Commission for Church Employers

Mikael Pentikäinen, CEO, Federation of Finnish Enterprises

Juha Myllymäki, Legal Director, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities

Permanent experts:

Kimmo Ruth, Labour Market Counsellor, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

Tarja Kröger, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

Secretaries:

Nico Steiner, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

Jan Hjelt, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

The group may consult other experts.