Originally published in Acatiimi 6/2017
I was asked to write about the frequently asked questions I get in my work. I have worked as a lawyer to FUURT for ten years now. In this time there have been several topics that seem to keep popping up more than others. A lot of the questions asked are the same, no matter what the nationality of the member. But naturally there are some things that foreign members especially are interested in.
Unemployment is something a lot of our members face from time to time due to the fixed-term contracts and having to seek for new funding and also due to working sometimes under employment contracts and sometimes with grants. It is important to ask and be in time with these matters, so there will be no losses. Unfortunately the right to unemployment benefits depends on the nationality and sometimes the visa the member has. EU-citizens are usually treated the same and questions are easily answered for them, but those coming from outside EU, should in make sure what their position is if facing unemployment well in beforehand. Good websites to find out more about unemployment are tyj.fi, which provides a lot of information about earnings based unemployment compensation and also has a calculator to calculate an estimate of the daily allowance. Opetk.fi is the page for the Teachers’ Unemployment Fund, where all of our members are insured and which pays out the earnings related unemployment benefits. Also kela.fi has a lot of information and is the party that pays out the other forms of unemployment allowances other than earnings based.
Termination of an employment relationship. Whether it is the employee or the employer terminating the employment relationship, I get contacted by members asking advice and wanting to know their rights. Employment contracts with the university usually allow the employees to resign even from a fixed-term contract. Often members would like to know about notice times or about the procedure itself.
Sometimes the employer has summoned the employee to a hearing to discuss a possible termination of employment. Sometimes I also participate in these hearings to support the employee, most often though, it is the shop-stewards that accompany employees in these situations. However, it is advisable to always bring somebody along to an official hearing. You should also contact the trade union if you are offered for example an exit-deal.
Inappropriate behavior or bullying in the work place are unfortunately also things that come up quite often. These matters are often difficult to handle legally, but universities fortunately usually do have paractices already in place to help deal with workplace environment issues. Sometimes it is also good to check out the Regional State Administrative Agencies ”AVI” at avi.fi. AVI gives information about work safety issues among other things.
Foreign members also are often interested in matters regarding their visas and their status in Finland. These are not matters always very easily answered and not matters that trade unions traditionally give advice on, but we as a trade union try to do our best.
If you have any questions regarding your employment, please, do not hesitate to contact your trade union.
Text by Mia Weckman