University of Helsinki’s Lecturers’ Association (HYL) and Helsinki University Association of Researchers and Teachers (HUART) organized a webinar “What should you know about fixed-term employment contracts?” on March 9th for their members. The welcome words were provided by Tommi Kokkonen, chair of HUART. The first speaker, Salla Viitanen, lawyer from The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT), pointed out that fixed-term contract is, legally speaking, always an exception.
Therefore, it is always important to check that the reason for the fixed-term contract is justified. The legal grounds were introduced to raise awareness of the nature of fixed-term contracts. The most important justified reason in the university contexts is a project: fixed-term contracts can be used for instance in traineeship, doctoral research or other projects with a clear timeframe.
However, Viitanen highlighted that each case is different, and a fixed-term contract should not be taken for granted.
Seppo Sainio, Chief Union Representative (JUKO/OAJ/YLL), discussed the University guidelines and practices on fixed-term contracts. For the future, it is important to develop better policies in requirement processes, for example to open the discussion early enough, correct mistakes and add more transparency in all requirements. Sainio raised a question of how to keep the academic career inviting to the next generations if fixed-term contracts prevail. Suvi Kotkavuori, chairperson from HYL, was the last invited speaker to add with the aspect of work well-being. Kotkavuori discussed how fixed-term contracts are closely related to work well-being and emphasised that well-being of the fixed-term employee is an issue that has influence on the whole community.
What to do if you are uncertain about the validity of your fixed-term employment contract?
In the end of the event, a panel discussion moderated by Jonna Kangas (HYL) was held with a title “What to do if you are uncertain about the validity of your fixed-term employment contract? ”The panel discussion raised many important questions about fixed-term contracts and the audience also had an opportunity to ask questions related to their own contracts.
Are you uncertain about the validity of your contract? If so, be active and ask! You can always turn to union lawyers or shop stewards / union representatives. They are ready to help you.