The Government under Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s leadership plans to relax the grounds of fixed-term employment relationships and, combined with the extension of the earnings-related employment condition, this threatens to leave research and teaching personnel without unemployment security.
The large number and succession of fixed-term employment contracts are particularly a problem in the university sector, where more than half of university personnel are currently employed with fixed-term employment contracts.
‘We strongly oppose the proposal, as the current legislation is already too imprecise with regard to the criteria for fixed-term contracts and, for example, research funding is used too often as the justification for fixed-term employments. Fixed-term employments without justifiable cause will particularly affect young employees and women, thereby further weakening their labour market position. Pregnancy discrimination is already a problematic issue when it comes to fixed-term employments’, states Tero Karjalainen, President of FUURT.
Extending the employment condition for earnings-related unemployment security could lead to a situation in which researchers and teachers who are engaged in intermittent work would not meet the employment condition, thereby leaving them without security during periods of unemployment. The reform will not bring growth to the number of those employed in science and research but, instead, would further intensify the plight of fixed-term researchers and teachers.
‘The graduated scaling of the earnings-related unemployment allowance may affect fixed-term researchers and teachers who have to endure periods of unemployment as fixed-term employments are becoming more common. The proposed 20 per cent cut in allowances after eight weeks of unemployment would be a significant decrease’, Karjalainen adds.
Rather than unilaterally weakening the position of those in fixed-term employment, steps should be taken to strengthen it. If we truly wish to meet the need for RDI competence and to attract international talent to Finland, investments will need to be made to enhance the attraction and retention of researcher careers. We propose the following additional measures:
- The Employment Contracts Act should grant employees the right to terminate a fixed-term employment relationship, and the prohibition concerning successive fixed-term contracts should be stricter.
- Employment legislation must forbid the discontinuation of fixed-term employments on the basis of pregnancy or family leave.
By weakening the position of fixed-term employees, the Government Programme’s policies do not strengthen employee well-being but, rather, may lead to an increase in unjustified fixed-term contracts in the area of science and research. The prerequisites for high-quality science and research are met through long-term funding that provide more security to researchers and teachers in the form of more stable employment contracts.
Tero Karjalainen, President
Johanna Moisio, Executive Director, tel. +358 (0)207 589 612
The e-mail addresses for both are in the form firstname.lastname(a)tieteentekijat.fi.