The Government Programme includes several proposals that reduce employees’ rights and livelihood.
Restrictions on the negotiation system and the right to strike
The maximum level of wage adjustments will be tied to pay increases in export sectors in conciliation.
- This change will affect trade unions’ free right to negotiate and cement the pay gap between male- and female-dominated sectors.
The provision of protection in conflict situations will be defined by law.
- Accurate information about the content of the regulation remains unavailable, but the change may result in significant restrictions on the right to strike in the social welfare and healthcare sector.
The political right to industrial action will be limited to demonstrations of one day.
- The goal is to limit people’s right to demonstrations regarding amendments to labour and social services legislation. Political strikes have been quite rare in Finland, the right to strike has been used moderately, and there is no need for restrictions.
Solidarity actions will be within the scope of the notification obligation, assessing the proportionality of solidarity strikes and limiting their impact to parties to labour disputes will be defined by law.
- The right to strike will be limited significantly. Various limitations related to the procedure and content when exercising the right to strike may mean that the right to strike decreases significantly in practice.
The level of the financial sanctions imposed on illegal industrial actions will be increased. The lower limit will be EUR 10,000 and the upper limit EUR 150,000.
- This means a significant increase in financial sanctions. Illegal strikes often involve situations where employees react to large-scale employee discharge plans of companies or weaker terms of employment.
A personal sanction of EUR 200 will be imposed on employees for continuing a strike deemed illegal by the Labour Court.
- A strike is an industrial action, which is usually decided on by a union or member association. Consequences should not be targeted at individuals.
Opportunities to derogate from labour law through a company-specific collective agreement will be expanded, and employee protection based on legislation on local agreements and collective agreements will be reduced.
- In the future, a union-trained shop steward does not need to be a contractual party in a local agreement. The risk is that an agreement does not reach the minimum level of employment terms safeguarded by legislation and collective agreements, resulting in unhealthy competition in labour markets based on drastically limited terms of employment. It remains unclear how the abilities and skills of employee representatives negotiating on behalf of the employees will be ensured, how contractual disputes will be settled, and who will cover the costs arising from dispute resolutions.
Decreases in terms of employment
Specific grounds for fixed-term employment contracts of one year will no longer be required.
- The change will probably increase the unfounded chaining of employment contracts and therefore uncertainties in working life, and reduce the use of indefinite employment relationships. The change will especially affect young people and women. Furthermore, the change may increase discrimination based on pregnancy and family leave, considering that a significant part of discrimination is already associated with fixed-term employment relationships.
The notice period for lay-offs and the related wage payment obligation will be shortened to seven days irrespective of what is defined in the collective agreement.
- Currently, the notice period for lay-offs is 14 days by law. The notice period is also defined in some collective agreements. Employees will have less time to prepare for a lower level of income. At the same time, the change affects the contractual autonomy of parties to collective agreements, as the content of existing agreements is affected through legislation.
The first day of sick leave will be unpaid.
- The change will cause an unreasonable loss of income for employees and forces more employees to come to work ill.
Employees’ protection against dismissal on personal grounds will be reduced. In the future, a relevant reason will be sufficient to dismiss employees on personal grounds, whereas a relevant and weighty reason is currently required.
- The change will significantly reduce employment protection.
The scope of application of the Co-operation Act will be limited to companies employing at least 50 people, and the minimum negotiation periods of legal cooperation negotiations will be halved.
- Currently, the Co-operation Act applies to companies employing at least 20 people. The change will leave most jobs outside the scope of the development of working life and cooperation between employers and employees, and reduce the opportunities of employees to have their voice heard in companies. STTK has proposed lowering the scope of application to companies employing at least 10 people.
- The minimum negotiation periods of cooperation negotiations on dismissals will be halved, which significantly reduces the purpose of negotiations and the opportunity to engage in a genuine dialogue on alternatives for dismissals.
The re-employment obligation laid down in the Employment Contracts Act will be removed from companies and organisations employing fewer than 50 people irrespective of what is defined in the collective agreement.
- Currently, the re-employment obligation is four or six months depending on the duration of the employment relationship. The change will reduce employment protection. It will also affect the contractual autonomy of parties to collective agreements.
Decreases in benefits and allowances
The level of the earnings-related unemployment benefit will be reduced in steps. The benefit will fall to 80 per cent after eight weeks and to 75 per cent after 34 weeks of unemployment.
- The change will especially affect those who consider finding a new job difficult for various reasons. The change may lead to a cycle of social services, as people may also need to apply for other social security to protect their livelihood.
The employment condition of the unemployment benefit will be extended to 12 months.
- The change will reduce the opportunity to obtain the earnings-related unemployment benefit and increase income problems during unemployment. Combined with the easier possibility to use fixed-term employment relationships, this may also increase uncertainties in working life and transfer the unemployed to other social security.
A euro limit will be set for the employment condition of the unemployment benefit.
- The change will reduce the level of the unemployment benefit for some and will be particularly problematic for those with low income and who work in unusual working conditions. The change will increase income problems and lead to a cycle of social services, as people may also need to apply for other social security to protect their livelihood.
Holiday allowances will be divided into periods, the number of deductible days will be increased from five to seven days, the accrual of the employment condition in pay-supported employment will be discontinued, child increases will be removed, and age-tied derogations and protective components will be eliminated.
- The changes will reduce the level of the unemployment benefit and will be particularly problematic for those with low income and who work in unusual working conditions. Furthermore, the changes will increase income problems.
The increment of the first 16 working days in the parental allowance will be discontinued.
- The change will reduce the livelihood of families. In addition, it may make it more difficult to agree upon the paid parental leave period in collective agreement negotiations.
The adult education allowance will be discontinued from 1 August 2024.
- Because the adult education allowance supports access to income during studies, the change will particularly reduce the opportunities of the working-age population with low and medium income to update their skills during their career.
Alternation leave will be discontinued.
- The change will remove a significant benefit that has supported employees’ coping at work and the diversification of careers, which has especially been used by women with extended careers.