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- Questions and answers regarding the coronavirus and business financing
- Questions and answers: Impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak on consumers
- Questions and aswers: Corona and worker mobility
- Questions and answers regarding the coronavirus and working life
- Questions and answers on closing restaurants
- Questions and answers: Coronavirus and obligation to work in the healthcare sector
- Questions and answers: Coronavirus and seasonal work
- Questions and answers on entrepreneurs’ right to social security
- Questions and answers on support available to sole entrepreneurs
- Questions and answers on security of supply
- Questions and answers on support and compensation for the food and beverage sector
- Coronavirus: Guidance for businesses
- International reports on the effects of the coronavirus
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Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus and working life
One cannot just decide to stay out of work, but the obligation to work based on an employment contract applies during virus epidemics as well. In many workplaces arrangements to work remotely are being used, if allowed by the type of work.
Employees may stay out of work if their presence at home is necessary e.g. to take care of small children as daycare centres or schools have been closed down. The law does not entitle to paid absence in such cases, but there may be regulations concerning this in the collective agreements. People should check if this is the case.
The obligation to work based on an employment contract applies during virus epidemics as well.
Virus epidemics may cause situations where an unforeseeable event disrupts regular operations or there is a serious risk of such disruptions. In such situations, the employer may order employees to carry out emergency work. Emergency work may also be used in situations where an unforeseeable event may lead to a threat to life, health, property or the environment.
Emergency work on top of regular working hours may only be used to the extent that is truly necessary, and for no more than two weeks at a time. Employees are entitled to overtime pay for the time of emergency work that exceeds their maximum regular
As a rule, yes they are. However, certain sectors may have specifics features that require different kind of regulation. For example, night work is allowed in hospitals, even if having to work at night on a regular basis is prohibited in many sectors.
During the coronavirus epidemic, it is necessary to secure certain functions that are critical for the functioning of society and human health. This is why it has been considered necessary to apply certain measures under the Emergency Powers Act in such sectors. These include the right of an employer to deviate from certain provisions of the Annual Holidays Act, Working Hours Act and Employment Contracts Act.
The employer and employee usually agree on when the annual holidays are taken. The employer has the power to decide on the timing of annual holidays within the time limits laid down in the Annual Holidays Act, i.e. summer holiday during the summer leave period (2 May–30 September) and winter holiday between 1 October and 30 April. For certain sectors, there may be different rules laid down in the collective agreement or collective agreement for public servants. Summer and winter holiday must both be granted as an uninterrupted period, unless keeping the work going requires that the portion of the summer holiday exceeding 12 weekdays is taken at a different time in one or several parts.
When an employer decides on the timing of the annual holiday, the employee must be informed about this at least one month before the annual holiday starts. Exceptions are allowed only in cases where it is quite impossible to comply with this obligation. If this is the case, the employee must be informed of the time of the annual holiday as soon as possible, but not later than two weeks before the start of the holiday.
If the employer has already informed the employee of the time of the annual holiday, i.e. the time has been decided, or the time when the holiday will be taken has been agreed between the employer and employee, the employer cannot unilaterally, by his or her decision alone, change the time. If the employer unilaterally changes the time of the annual holiday that has already been decided and this causes harm or loss to the employee, the employer must compensate for such harm or loss as specified in the Employment Contracts Act. However, the employee must still comply with the employer’s decisions concerning the new time of the annual leave, even in cases where the employer changes this time in a way that violates the law.
The employer is not allowed to interrupt a holiday that has already started. With regard to public officials, provisions on interrupting the annual holiday are laid down in the collective agreement concerning them.
The time when the annual holiday is taken may be changed by a mutual agreement between the employer and employee.
Please note! In healthcare and social welfare services, the Government Decree issued under the Emergency Powers Act enables the employer to derogate from the provisions concerning the notification of annual leaves, postpone an annual leave that has already been decided and interrupt a leave that has started. This requires that the conditions specified in the Government Decree are fulfilled.
The purpose of change security is to enable employees dismissed for financial or production-related reasons to find new employment faster and support the employee already during the notice period. Employees who have been dismissed or laid off are covered by change security, provided that the conditions are met.
Employees covered by change security are entitled to paid leave during the notice period for job seeking and for participating in employment planning or measures included in this. The duration of the leave depends on the duration of the notice period (5–20 days). The leave may not cause significant harm to the company, and the employer must be informed of the leave as soon as possible. Change security also includes eligibility for increased earnings-related allowance or labour market support for the time when services in support of finding employment are being used. Increased earnings-related allowance or labour market support may be paid for the maximum of 20 days.
If the number of people employed on a regular basis is at least 30, dismissed person who have worked for the company uninterrupted for at least five years must be offered the opportunity to participate in coaching or training to promote finding employment at the employer’s cost. The employer and employee may agree that the employer will meet this obligation by paying in part or in full for training or coaching procured by the employee.
Change security also includes the employer’s obligation to provide occupational healthcare to employees laid off for financial or production-related reasons for six months from the termination of the obligation to work, in accordance with the employer’s occupational healthcare agreement. This applies to employees who before the termination of the employment relationship had been employed by the employer concerned for at five years and the total number of staff employed on a regular basis is at least 30.
Regular working hours may be arranged as shift work. Any work may be carried out as shift work, unless there are restrictions based on the collective agreement or the employment contract. Employees working in shifts must have similar, but not necessarily identical, tasks. The employer must also ensure that the daily and weekly rest periods of employees take place.
The shifts must change regularly and at intervals agreed upon in advance. Change of shifts is considered regular when a shift does not coincide for more than one hour with the immediately following shift or the shifts are no more than one hour apart.
In shift work, employees must be provided with a written work schedule in good time, or at least one week before the start of the period the schedule concerns. After this, the work schedule may only be changed with the employee’s consent or for a compelling reason relating to the organisation of work.
According to the Employment Contracts Act, salaries shall be paid on the last day of the pay period, unless otherwise agreed. It is possible to agree on the pay period in the employment contract, and in many areas collective agreements stipulate the pay period. These stipulations may be binding.
An employer cannot unilaterally override binding stipulations in an employment contract or collective agreement. In the event of late payment of salaries, the employee is entitled to interest on late payment. If pay is delayed at the end of the employment relationship, the employee is entitled to receive pay for the waiting days for a maximum of six days.
If an employee is incapable of working due to illness, the right to sickness pay is determined by the Employment Contracts Act and collective agreements. Pay during sickness is in practice determined in sectoral agreements that extend the employer's obligation to pay remuneration for a sickness period from that laid down in the Employment Contracts Act.
During incapacity to work, Kela will pay sickness allowance after the waiting period has passed. The waiting period is commonly the first day of incapacity to work and nine weekdays following the beginning of incapacity. In general, employers apply for sickness allowance if they pay salary during absence from work and Kela will pay the sickness allowance to the employer.
If the employee has been quarantined under the Communicable Diseases Act, he or she is entitled to a 100% daily allowance for the duration of the quarantine. If the employer pays a salary during this period, they have the right to receive the daily allowance.
If an employee’s child is placed in quarantine, the Communicable Diseases Act contains provisions to cover that, and communicable disease allowance may be paid in this case as well.
If an employee is placed in quarantine after a business trip, absence from work could be attributed to a reason due to the employer and the employee would then be entitled to his or her salary. The employee is entitled to his or her salary also when he or she is forced to remain quarantined abroad during a business trip. The situation may be different if the employee is placed in quarantine because of travel abroad for holidays. There are no legal principles or general guidelines on this at present. There may be consequences if, for example, the travel has taken place against official instructions.
If the employer is on sick leave because of the coronavirus infection (incapacity to work due to illness), his or her right to sick pay is determined on the basis of the Employment Contracts Act and collective agreements. Payment of salaries during sick leave is included in sectoral collective agreements
If the employee’s child is under 10 years old and is diagnosed with coronavirus infection, the employee is entitled to temporary childcare leave. The length of temporary childcare leave is determined by the Employment Contracts Act/the applicable collective agreement and the salary payable during this period is determined by the applicable collective agreement.
In specific situations, while the employee may be entitled to absence from work for compelling family reasons (a child who is over 10 years old falls ill; his or her caretaker falls ill; a daycare centre closes down), the grounds for the right to be absent from work are relatively strict. It is clear, however, that children cannot be left unattended. This absence is unpaid (unless otherwise agreed in the collective agreement) and it is not intended for long-term absence.
The obligation to provide a sick leave certificate is laid down in the Employment Contracts Act and stipulated in collective agreements. To avoid unnecessary burden on healthcare personnel and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, labour market organisations have issued recommendations that the employee's own statement is sufficient to justify the sick-leave pay.
If the employee has been quarantined under the Communicable Diseases Act, he or she is entitled to a 100% daily allowance for the duration of the quarantine. If the employer pays salary during this period, they have the right to receive the daily allowance.
Relevant information can be found on the website of TE Offices. TE Offices follow the guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI) for their customer service. As a rule, the customer service has switched to online and telephone services.
While the best and fastest way to manage your affairs is by using the electronic services online, you can also get service by telephone. To minimise congestion, please call the telephone service only in urgent situations.
If you do not have access to online or telephone services, TE Offices also provide forms as printouts. Location-specific information on where the forms are available can be found on the website of your local TE Office. However, due to the prevailing coronavirus situation, a maximum of 10 persons at a time will be allowed in a TE Office lobby.
When you follow the instructions given by the TE Office and the healthcare authorities, your right to unemployment benefit will remain unchanged. Read more at www.te-palvelut.fi/te/en
You can find information on layoffs and cooperation procedures on the websites of TE Offices. If you as an employer must initiate a cooperation procedure, you must notify the local TE Office of the cooperation negotiations. In layoff situations, employees must be personally informed. If necessary, TE Offices advise companies in matters related to large-scale layoffs.
Employees who are given a notice of termination will have access to the change security services offered by TE Offices already during the notice period. The services provide support for job seeking as well as coaching and training for re-employment.
Further information is available on the TE Services website
The period of notice before lay-off is temporarily reduced from 14 days to five days. In other words, the employer is required to inform the employee of the lay-off no later than five days before the lay-off begins.
This amendment is valid from 1 April to 30 June 2020. It is intended to help companies to overcome the acute crisis and avoid unnecessary bankruptcies.
The amendment does not affect the notice period of lay-off in the public sector.
Note: Many collective agreements contain provisions regarding notice periods. If a collective agreement binding on the employer contains such a provision, it is applied instead of the provisions of law. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, exceptional solutions have been adopted in many sectors. More information about these is available from the labour market organisations concerned.
The provisions of chapter 8 apply when the employer considers measures which may lead to notice of termination, lay-off or reducing a contract of employment to a part-time contract of one or several employees on financial or production-related grounds. When considering such measures, the employer must issue a written proposal for negotiations in order to commence the co-operation negotiations and employment measures at the latest five days before the negotiations begin.
When the employer proposes measures which may lead to termination, lay-off or reduction of a contract of employment into a part-time contract of an employee, the proposal for negotiations or its material contents must also be delivered in writing to the Employment and Economic Development Office no later than at the start of the co-operation negotiations unless this information has already been provided in some other context.
Duration of negotiations
The duration of co-operation negotiations regarding lay-offs will be shortened from the current six weeks or 14 days to five days. The duration of negotiations is shortened because the company’s financial capacity to overcome the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus could be significantly weakened if the negotiations took longer. This amendment is valid from 1 April to 30 June 2020.
A negotiation period of 14 days and six weeks still applies to negotiations on lay-off or reduction of the employment contract into a part-time contract.
Disregarding the co-operation procedure in certain situations
Derogating from the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings is allowed in certain special cases. The employer may decide not to conduct the co-operation negotiations if they are prevented by particularly serious and unforeseeable reasons that may cause damage to the production or service operations or economy of the company.
All three conditions for the derogation must be fulfilled, i.e. the reasons must 1) cause damage to the production or service operations or economy of the company 2) be particularly serious and 3) be unforeseeable. According to legal literature, the employer’s need to carry out dismissals or temporary layoffs as quickly as possible due to due to a sudden collapse of the company’s finances or volume of orders is not a reason to deviate from the co-operation procedure obligation, except in highly exceptional circumstances.
The employer must also immediately start the co-operation negotiations when the conditions for the deviation no longer exist. In this case the negotiation process includes examining the grounds for the deviation.
Note: Some collective agreements contain provisions on matters such as the duration of negotiations. If a collective agreement binding on the employer contains such a provision, it is applied instead of the provisions of law. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, exceptional solutions have been adopted in many sectors. More information about these is available from the labour market organisations concerned.
Amendments have been made to the Employment Contracts Act and the Seafarers’ Employment Contracts Act to allow the employer to terminate an employment contract during a trial period for financial or production-related reasons referred to in the Employment Contracts Act. Financial or production-related reasons refer to a situation where the work offered by the employer has diminished substantially and permanently for financial or production-related reasons or for reasons arising from reorganization of the employer’s operations. Before terminating an employment contract during a trial period, the employer is required to explore opportunities of avoiding termination of employment by placing or training the employee to other duties.
An employment contract terminated during a trial period will terminate immediately, and the notice period laid down in the law or contract is not observed.
This amendment is valid from 1 April to 30 June 2020. However, this amendment does not apply to the public sector. Public sector employees’ contract may be terminated during the trial period for financial or production-related reasons, provided that the period of notice is observed.
Yes. The re-employment obligation period laid down in the Employment Contracts Act and the Seafarers’ Employment Contracts Act is temporarily extended from four or six months to nine months. This amendment is valid from 1 April to 30 June 2020. The obligation shall apply to employment contracts terminated during the validity of the Act. The date of termination of the employment relationship is irrelevant.
The extended re-employment obligation applies to all employees dismissed on financial or production-related grounds while the Act was in force, regardless of the duration of the employee’s employment relationship.
However, this amendment does not apply to the public sector. In the public sector, the re-employment obligation period continues to be four or six months, depending on the duration of the employment relationship.
Starting from 1 April 2020, employers have the right to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship under the same conditions as an employee with an employment contract of unspecified duration. This amendment is intended to be in force for three months, or until 30 June 2020.
The grounds for the temporary layoff of employees are laid down in the Employment Contracts Act. Employees in open-ended employment relationships may be laid off when the employer has financial or production-related grounds for terminating the employment contract or the work or the employer's potential for offering work have diminished temporarily and the employer cannot reasonably provide the employee with other suitable work or training corresponding to its needs.
This amendment does not apply to the public sector. Public sector employers are entitled to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship only if the employee is working as a substitute for a permanent employee and if the employer would be entitled to lay off the permanent employee.
Third-country nationals residing in the country with a residence permit or a permit under the Aliens Act may change employer and profession without applying for a further permit.
A residence permit issued by 9.4.2020 at the latest or a seasonal work permit referred to in the Aliens Act entitle employees to work in all sectors and tasks essential for security of supply or the functioning of the labour market.
Special act on emergency conditions is in force until 31.10.2020.