I need personal guidance, who can I contact?
- Questions concerning unemployment benefits in the event of termination or lay-off: In case of unemployment protection, you can contact the KOKO fund.
- If you are an entrepreneur, please contact the SYT helpline from Monday to Thursday at 9–11, tel. +358 9 622 4830.
- Legal services: If you are concerned about a legal issue related to your employment relationship, you can contact the legal counselling services of the Finnish Business School Graduates. Our legal counsels advise you every weekday at 9–12 without appointment, tel. +358 20 693 205. You can also make an appointment in our booking calendar.
- Career services: Our career coaches are there for you when you are concerned about work and your future. You can book a telephone appointment in our calendar, and our career coach will contact you. Confidential conversations with a career coach will help you find solutions for your career, job search and well-being at work.
- In matters related to being laid off, you can also contact our labour market specialists.
Note! Due to coronavirus, temporary changes have been made to laws and collective agreements. The changes are described in the replies below.
When can an employer lay off an employee?
An employer is entitled to temporarily lay off an employee for financial or production-related reasons. The employer may also lay off an employee in the event of a temporary decline in work amounts or the employer’s capacity to offer work. In this context, ‘temporary’ is considered to refer to a decrease in work availability or capacity to offer work lasting no more than 90 days. As an additional requirement, the employer must not be reasonably able to arrange other work for the employee, or training that meets the employer’s needs.
Due to coronavirus, a temporary amendment has been made to the Employment Contracts Act regarding laying off a fixed-term employee. The employer is entitled to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship under the same conditions as an employee whose employment contract is valid until further notice. The legislative amendment remains in force from 1 April to 30 June 2020.
The amendment does not apply to the public sector. The employer is entitled to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship with the state, a municipality, a joint municipal authority, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, the government of Åland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church only if the employee is working as a substitute for a permanent employee and if the employer would be entitled to lay off the permanent employee.
If the employer employs at least 20 people, the employer must conduct co-operation negotiations before lay-offs. Smaller employers must present the employee with an advance explanation.
Can you engage in other work during layoff?
Being laid off does not prevent you from accepting other work for the layoff period. However, the other work tasks may not consist of activities that compete with those of your employer, as the non-competition clauses applicable to your employment relationship will remain in effect for the duration of your layoff.
Employees must also bear in mind the precedence of the first employment relationship. If the layoff is for a fixed period, the employee may not enter into another employment contract lasting longer than the duration of the layoff. In the event that an employee is laid off until further notice and the work situation changes, the employee must be notified of the resumption of work activities at least seven days in advance, unless otherwise agreed. If an employee who has been laid off until further notice has accepted other work for the duration of the layoff, this employee has a special right to resign from the secondary employment relationship (even fixed-term employment) subject to three months’ notice.
What do I do if I get laid off?
Read KOKO fund’s instructions on what to do if you are laid off due to coronavirus. Contact our employment lawyers.
Illness and quarantine
How long will I receive sick pay?
if you are prevented from performing your work as a result of an illness, you are entitled to full pay up to the end of the ninth sick day according to the Employment Contracts Act. Collective agreements typically provide for longer periods of sick pay.
What if I am quarantined and cannot work remotely?
If you are placed under quarantine or isolation by a doctor responsible for infectious diseases, you are entitled to sickness allowance on account of an infectious disease, which is applied from Kela. The allowance provides full compensation for the loss of income. The sickness allowance is also available to the provider of a child under the age of 16 who is placed under quarantine due to coronavirus.
My employer’s instructions on the organisation of work are stricter than those of public authorities. Who should I believe?
In principle, you should follow instructions issued by authorities. However, your employer is responsible for ensuring a safe working environment. You should therefore follow your employer’s instructions, even if they are stricter than those of the authorities.
What if a child falls ill with coronavirus?
An employee is legally entitled to a temporary child-care leave and to be absent from work if their child who is under 10 years of age falls ill. The maximum duration of the temporary child-care leave is 4 working days. Temporary child-care leave is an unpaid absence from work. Several collective agreements provide for paid temporary child-care leave.
If the child’s illness is prolonged, the employee may also have the right to be absent from their work due to compelling family reasons as per the Employment Contracts Act, provided that their immediate presence is necessary because of an unforeseeable and compelling reason due to the child’s illness.
How is annual leave accrued during a lay-off?
- An employee accrues annual leave for the days of being unable to work due to being laid off for a maximum of 30 working days.
- If, under normal circumstances, the employee works less than 14 days per calendar month according to their employment contract, the employee accrues annual leave for a maximum period of 42 calendar days during the lay-off.
Part-time lay-off (for example by shortening the working week):
- The employee accrues annual leave for the days of being unable to work due to being laid off for a maximum of six months at a time. If the part-time lay-off continues without interruption after the end of the holiday credit year (31 March), the calculation of the new six-month period will start after the end of the holiday credit year.
What happens to summer holidays during a layoff?
A lay-off does not affect annual leaves, which are granted in accordance with the Annual Holiday Act and relevant collective agreement provisions. The employer decides on the timing of the annual leave. The summer holiday must be granted on the summer holiday period, i.e. 2 May–30 September. The winter holiday should be granted between 1 October and 30 April. The employee is paid their normal salary during the leave.
The Act also offers opportunities to agree on the placement and carrying over of annual leave. The employer and the employee may agree that annual leave is taken between the beginning of the calendar year of the holiday season and the beginning of the following year’s holiday season. In addition, the parties may agree that the remaining days exceeding 12 working days will be taken at the latest within one year from the end of the holiday season.
The employer and the employee may agree to carry over the part of the annual leave exceeding 18 days to be taken during the next holiday season or after it. The employee has the right to carry over any annual leave exceeding 24 leave days to be taken later, provided that this does not seriously harm the manufacturing and service operations of the workplace.
What happens to already fixed summer holidays during the layoff?
If the employer has already notified the employee about the timing of the annual leave, the notification is binding to the employer. If the employer changes the timing of a notified holiday, the employer is obliged to compensate the worker for the damage they have caused. However, the employee is obliged to obey the employer’s orders regarding a rescheduled holiday if the holiday has not yet begun.
According to the public sector collective agreements, the employer can transfer or suspend the annual leave already started by the official if this is necessary for the performance of essential tasks relating to health or safety, for example.
Can I lose my annual leave if I fall ill?
If you fall ill before the start of your leave, your leave will be postponed at your request. Annual leave is not postponed automatically, but requires that once an employee gets sick, they request postponement of leave without delay and present a reliable explanation of their incapacity to work.
If you fall ill during your annual leave, you are entitled to have your leave postponed to a later stage after a six-day waiting period. The 6 waiting days may not reduce the employee’s entitlement to a 4-week annual leave.
Can my employer cancel my annual leave due to coronavirus?
An employer must place the summer holiday (4 weeks) on the summer holiday period, i.e. 2 May–30 September. The winter holiday should be granted on the winter holiday period which starts on 1 October.
The employer must notify the employee of the timing of the holiday no later than one month before the start of the holiday. If this is not possible, notification of the timing of the holiday must be given at least two weeks before the start of the holiday.
The notification of the timing of the holiday is binding on the employer. The employer is not entitled to unilaterally cancel or change the notified timing of the holiday. A change of timing can, of course, be agreed.
However, if an employer changes or cancels a notified holiday, the procedure violates the Annual Holiday Act and the employer is obliged to compensate the worker for the damage they have caused. However, the employee is obliged to obey the employer’s orders regarding a rescheduled or cancelled holiday if the holiday has not yet begun.
Traveling and working from home
Can my employer require me to work from home?
Working from home is based on agreement. An employer cannot order an employee to work from home unless the possibility of remote working is mentioned in the employment contract or otherwise agreed.
What should I consider when working from home?
The government recommended that everyone whose work allows it should work from home in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Working from home should always be agreed with the employer. The most important thing is to ensure that you have the necessary equipment for remote working and that the work environment is safe.
Can the KOKO fund handle the processing of all the applications?
The Unemployment fund for highly educated KOKO has prepared in many ways for much higher numbers of applications. The processing status of applications is currently good, but the corona situation will result in a very steep increase in the number of applications within a couple of weeks. The KOKO fund will do everything in its power to ensure that the processing times will not be prolonged excessively. Read the KOKO fund’s notice on the subject.
How does coronavirus affect banking (Danske Bank customers)?
On Danske Bank’s website, you will find an info pack with answers to your questions as well as information on the support and flexibility options offered by the bank in this exceptional situation caused by coronavirus.
Keep also in mind that as a member of The Finnish Business School Graduates, you can always use the instalment-free periods granted for your housing loan in the way you want, just when you need flexibility in your finances. You can apply for 4–12-month instalment-free periods without a service fee. Read more on the website, which is being actively updated.
Can my employer require me to perform new duties, if for example some of the staff are ill?
Within the framework of the right to direct, the employer may assign new duties to an employee. However, the content of the unusual duties varies case by case and depends, among other things, on what has been specified in the employment contract, how much the duties deviate form normal and how much they would affect the workload.
The duration of the change is also relevant. In the case of a virus, the duration of the change would presumably be relatively short, which may broaden the right to direct.
However, it is important to ensure that the workload is not unreasonable and that the complexity of the duties is in line with the professional capacity of the employee and with the employment contract. In some cases, it may be appropriate to discuss a pay increase due to the additional duties and responsibilities. All employees must be treated equally even in these circumstances.