Skip to content
Home » In society » PAM influences society » Well-being at work

Well-being at work

The workload of employees in the service sectors is increasing. Rapid responses to problems in the workplace and symptoms experienced by workers, as well as maintaining working capacity, would be beneficial for all: workers, the employer and the ageing society of Finland.

Our goals

  • Medical treatment at the general practitioner level in occupational healthcare
  • Employers are responsible for addressing psychosocial stress
  • Mental health is supported at work
  • Effective coordination of work and leisure

Medical treatment at the general practitioner level in occupational healthcare

Occupational healthcare is divided into statutory and voluntary extended services. This divides workers into those who have access to medical treatment as part of extended occupational healthcare and those who only have statutory occupational healthcare, which does include medical treatment. The better a worker’s income, the more likely she or he is to have access to extended occupational healthcare. Occupational healthcare provided by large employers also often includes medical treatment. The exclusion of low-paid workers from extended occupational healthcare causes inequality, and they are likely to take longer to see a doctor.

Early response and the treatment of symptoms affecting employees’ working capacity would be in everyone’s interest, as ensuring the working capacity of the whole workforce is important because of the ageing population, among other reasons. For example, early support models, supporting a return to work after a long period of sick leave and alternative duties are integrated into promoting and supporting health and coping at work in the workplace and in occupational healthcare.

It would therefore be logical for all workers to have access to medical treatment at the general practitioner level. Medical treatment at the general practitioner level or higher should be included in occupational healthcare.

Employers are responsible for addressing psychosocial stress

The pace of work is continuously increasing in the service sectors, and workers are experiencing higher levels of physical and mental stress. According to the results of a member survey, nearly 60% of members fear that their workload will become overwhelming.

Workplaces have insufficient human resources for their operations. The situation began to worsen during the pandemic and has not improved since. Because of prolonged overload, too many workers feel that their working capacity has decreased, and that they will soon be unable to cope at work. Burnout is becoming more common.

The employer is responsible for improving working conditions to eliminate psychosocial stress and promote coping at work. The link between burnout and working conditions must be identified and diagnosed correctly. The employer is obligated to pay wages during sick leave in accordance with collective agreements, regardless of the policies of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) concerning allowances.

Kela should change its policies so that they primarily safeguard the worker’s livelihood during sickness. The worker should not suffer financially when the employer fails to take care of working conditions.

Mental health is supported at work

Sickness absences for mental health reasons have increased strongly since 2000 and are now the most common cause of new disability pensions. Mental health problems have increased alarmingly among young people in particular. Work facilitates mental health and well-being when the workplace has a healthy operating culture. Young people’s concerns about stress caused by high workloads and the unpredictability of incomes must be addressed, and no one should experience inappropriate behaviour in working life.

Our aim is to support workers’ mental health by paying attention to the prevention of their psychosocial stress and especially to the employer’s obligation to protect young workers from inappropriate treatment and sexual harassment.

The role of occupational healthcare in promoting mental health and preventing mental health issues must be strengthened, and support for mental health must be integrated into statutory occupational healthcare services.

Effective coordination of work and leisure

Changes are taking place in working life that are favourable to workers. For example, flexibility in work arrangements is increasing, but these changes are not reflected in the service sectors. Remote work is impossible in service occupations, in which work is carried out in shifts and at night. In a survey of work in the private service sector (2023), more people than before reported that they had needed to adjust their working hours when their employer or tasks had required flexibility.

The possibilities for a worker to affect how long he or she works and at what times have not increased as rapidly as expected, even though it is known that a worker’s ability to affect her or his work shifts has been proved to be correlated with health and well-being.

PAM defends workers’ right to spend their free time without constantly needing to check for messages related to work.

Forced part-time work is common in the service sectors and leads to a poor income for many workers, who try to improve their situation by seeking additional work.

Digital systems have made it possible to offer additional work shifts via mobile services. This has led to a need for workers to constantly check their mobile device for any offers of work even when they should be enjoying their free time.

Message groups for monitoring, supervising and planning work outside work shifts have also increased the intrusion of work into free time. With the growing workload, it is also important to ensure workers’ recovery by making it possible for workers to be completely unavailable during their free time.

The European Parliament has also adopted an initiative that would give workers the right to close their work phone and email during leisure time without any consequences for being unreachable.

Any questions? Contact our experts!

Merja Vihersalo

Merja Vihersalo

Työympäristöasiantuntija, Edunvalvontaosasto

Työsuojelu, tasa-arvo ja yhdenvertaisuus