Employers permitted to temporarily derogate from working hours and annual holidays arrangements in critical functions of society

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 17.3.2020 16.56 | Published in English on 18.3.2020 at 18.28
Press release

On 17 March 2020, the Government issued a decree under the Emergency Powers Act to allow employers to respond to personnel shortage caused by the virus epidemic in critical functions of society. The arrangements concern working hours and annual holidays as well as notice periods in case of employee resignation.

The Decree may be applied to personnel working in health care and social services, rescue services, emergency response centres and police services. However, extension of the notice period does not apply to employees of police services.

If necessary, the employer is allowed to suspend or postpone the employee’s leave. In addition, the employer could deviate from the obligation to obtain the employee’s consent to work overtime, and from the provisions on rest periods. The employer could also extend the notice period that employees are required to comply with to four months if a shortage of labour due to the virus outbreak is imminent. If the employer resorted to these derogations, they would be required to pay special attention to employee health and safety. The derogations are intended to be temporary.

Labour shortage could interfere with the functioning of critical services in society

The spread of the virus epidemic means a growing number of people will get sick and need health care services, which may result in a labour shortage. If employees working in health care services get sick, this will further aggravate labour shortage. Labour shortage could significantly interfere with the functioning of critical services in society.

The decree enters into force on 18 March 2020. It is based on the decree concerning the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act which the Government submitted to Parliament on 17 March 2020.

Inquiries:

Timo Nevaranta, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 50 574 1430
Tarja Kröger, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 048 937