Different terms of employment apply to young workers

Young persons aged under 18 are not allowed to perform quite the same work and work on the same terms as adults. The Young Workers’ Act protects young employees from strain caused by overwork. The work must not

  • be hazardous to the physical or mental development of a young person
  • require more responsibility than can be considered reasonable with respect to the employee's age
  • require more exertion than can be considered reasonable with respect to the employee's strength.

The Young Workers’ Act applies to work performed by persons under 18 years of age in a contractual or public-service employment relationship. The occupational safety and health provisions of the act also apply to students aged under 18 in an apprenticeship or training exercises carried out at school.

The act includes provisions concerning

  • conditions on which young people can be admitted to work
  • regular working hours of young workers
  • maximum working hours
  • distribution of working hours
  • periods of rest granted to young people and occupational safety
  • employer’s responsibility to provide training and guidance
  • special responsibilities concerning special protection measures and
  • provision of medical examinations.

There are also other acts and decrees applying to work performed by young persons. For more information on them, see the links.

Young workers are subject to the same pay and holiday provisions as other employees. The collective agreements in many sectors contain specific provisions on young employees’ pay, stating that the pay of employees aged under 18 is determined as a certain percentage of the adults' minimum pay levels.

The employment contract should always be in writing.

A young person can enter into a permanent employment relationship at the age of 15

Persons aged 15 who have finished their compulsory education can be employed on a permanent basis.

Young persons aged under 15 may work as follows:

Persons aged 14 and persons reaching the age of 14 during the same calendar year may perform light work tasks

  • during school holidays, for no more than half of the holiday period
  • during school terms, on a temporary basis or for short periods.

A person aged 13 years or younger may work temporarily as a performer or an assistant in artistic and cultural performances and in other similar events.

Who can conclude an employment contract?

  • A person aged 15 or over may conclude an employment contract independently and give notice on it or cancel it.
  • An employment contract for persons under 15 can be made on behalf of the young person by his or her guardian or, with the consent of the guardian, also by the young person him- or herself.

See also

More information about concluding an employment contract

Further information:

Guidance and supervision of labour legislation: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha)
Law-drafting: Elli Nieminen, elli.nieminen(at)tem.fi