The Finnish Labor Legislation – An Introduction Part 2

Originally published in Acatiimi 6/2014

The employment contracts act applies to contracts entered into by an employee, agreeing personally to perform work for an employer under the employer’s direction and supervision in return for pay or some other remuneration.

An employment contract may be done orally, in writing or electronically, but a written contract is always advisable. The employer and the employee may agree on a trial period of max. 4 months. An employment contract is valid indefinitely, unless, for a legitimate reason, it has been made for a fixed term. Fixed-term contracts made on the employer’s initiative without a legitimate reason are legally considered to be valid indefinitely. It is prohibited to use consecutive fixed-term contracts when the amount or total duration of the contracts or the totality of contracts indicates a permanent need of labor. (If you are unsure of the legitimacy of your fixed-term contract, contact the local shop-steward). During consecutive fixed-term contracts under which the employment has continued without interruption or with only short interruptions, the employee is entitled to all benefits he would on a permanent contract.

The employer may not exercise unjustified discrimination against employees on the basis of for example age, health, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, trade union activity, or any other comparable circumstance. This also applies to hiring an employee. Less favorable employment terms may also not be applied to fixed-term or part-time employment. The employer must ensure occupational safety and health in order to protect employees from accidents and health hazards. Employees who are prevented from performing their work by an illness or accident are entitled to pay during illness. A report from a doctor is usually required.

Employees may not work for another party or engage in such activity that would cause manifest harm to their employer as a competing activity. During the term of employment, the employee may neither utilize nor divulge to third parties the employer’s trade or business secrets. For a particularly weighty reason related to the operations of the employer, an agreement of noncompetition may limit the employee’s right to conclude an employment contract with new employer who is competing with the firstmentioned employer, and also the employee’s right to engage in such operations on his own account.

Employees are entitled to take leave from work during maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental benefit periods. Employees are entitled to take parental leave in 1 or 2 periods, the min. duration is 12 days. Employees are entitled to take child-care leave until the child reaches the age of 3. An employee who has been employed by the same employer for a total period of at least 6 months during the previous 12 months is entitled to take partial child-care leave. The employee must notify the employer of maternity, paternity or parental leave or childcare leave at least two months before the intended beginning of the leave.

The employment contracts act is a very important law and consists of 14 sections. Therefore I have divided this article into two. I have tried my best to fit in the most important parts of the law with the limited space I have. For more details please visit


Text by Mia Weckman