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Wages - 07.10.2020 klo 13.30

Is pay day approaching? – How to make sure that your pay is right

Toni Åman is an official in the Helsinki-Uusimaa regional office and is used to checking pay for work done in service sectors. He is currently looking into 28 employment disputes. Photo: Emilia Anundi

Toni Åman says that if you notice a mistake in your pay, it’s best to get it put right straight away. He lists the key things you should take into account when checking if your pay is correct.

According to PAM official Toni Åman, it’s important for employees to grasp how their earnings are made up.  

“You should be familiar with your payslip, but also with what goes into it”, Åman says.


1. Payslip – every time you get paid

First of all you should check through your payslip. Every time they are paid employees should get a payslip, also known as a wage slip or salary statement. It is a breakdown of how earnings are made up. The pay period is the period for which wages are paid for work done during that time. There are differences in payslips between companies, but they should contain the same things.

Åman advises anyone checking their payslip to look out for the following at least:

  • Basic wages, number of hours and overtime payments

You can also check the following:

  • Holiday benefits paid for annual holiday and current number of accrued holiday days 
  • Possible bonuses, commissions, profit-related bonuses and daily allowances for travel
  • Prepaid taxes, pension contributions and unemployment insurance contributions
  • Union membership payments, if you have authorised your employer to deduct the payments.


2. Collective agreement – contains details of working hours bonuses and rules for calculating overtime, among other things

According to Åman, employees should know some key points about their collective agreement that can help them to check their payslip. The collective agreement is an agreement negotiated by the employees’ organisation and the employers’ organisation covering the minimum conditions and pay that employers must at the very least apply to their employees.

In the collective agreement you can find the amounts of evening, Saturday and overtime bonuses and the times for which these bonuses are paid.

“Those bonuses come straight from the collective agreement, because the only bonuses recognised in law are overtime payments and increased pay for Sunday working, also known as Sunday bonus”, Åman says.

You also have to check the detailed rules for calculating overtime in your sector in the collective agreement.

The collective agreement also details how long sick leave periods are compensated in your sector or how work experience or relevant training are reflected in pay.

In Finland, collective agreements play a big role in defining minimum wages, either by being generally binding or standardised, but in some sectors employers are not required to comply with any collective agreement. “If you think your job should be covered by a collective agreement, but your employer is not applying it, you can ask the union to check this”, Åman says.

If no collective agreement has to be applied, working conditions are based on your employment contract and employment legislation.

3. Employment contract – how many working hours was I promised?

An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and an employee which may contain details of the pay agreed, even if a collective agreement is applied. This is also important because the number of working hours an employee is given must correspond to the number of hours agreed in the employment contract.

“If the employment contract is up to date, it will state the number of working hours promised to the employee, which is important information for checking if your pay is correct”, Åman says.

“If the employment contract agrees minimum working hours of 30 hours a week, but an employee is only offered 20 hours, this is going to reduce your earnings.”

“Collective agreements and legislation contain mechanisms for demanding an increase in contractual hours. In service sectors, where wages are largely based on pay scales, getting working hours revised upwards is one of the main ways to bump up your earnings.” 


4. Keep your own time sheets – a big help in making comparisons 

According to Åman, employees should note down the hours they have worked. Employees need to record the hours they have worked to be able to compare whether they match their payslips. Åman says you should record your working hours in clearly so that if necessary an outsider can understand it. An easy way to do this is to take pictures of actual shift lists on your phone.

“An ordinary spreadsheet program, for example, can tell you right away how many hours you have clocked up and if necessary the times of day too”, Åman says.

An employee’s own records can also be produced in court.

Toni Åman has previously worked as a security guard, but has been in the union for six years. "I’ve still got my payslips from my time as a security guard on my bookshelves", he chuckles. Photo: Emilia Anundi

Åman would like to see workplaces taking a neutral stance when discussing whether wages have been paid correctly. Wages should be put right straight away and not after employment has come to an end.

“It’s easier to correct mistakes when they are recent.”

If you think your pay is not right, you should first contact your supervisor, who will either sort it out or refer it to the next level. Especially in big companies it’s hard for employees to contact the payroll department directly. If the matter is not put right, employees can contact their shop steward or the union’s employment helpline.