News - 27.01.2016 klo 14.05

Government wants to make short time employment easier

The Finnish Government is planning to reduce protection against precarious employment. Trade union confederations are afraid this will lead to an even further weakening of the position of women and young people in the labour market.

The working group set up by the Finnish Government presented in its report in January which is now under public consultation.

The working group came up with three main proposals. The first is that a period of fixed-term employment would be allowed under any circumstances i.e. without any specified reason, and for a maximum of three times during a year.

At the moment there has to be a valid reason for employing a person for a fixed-term, such as to fill a vacancy for someone on sick-leave or because the work is of a seasonal character. It is also forbidden to make a chain of fixed-term periods of employment.

The second proposal is to extend the trial period for a new employee from four to six months. During this period the employee can be dismissed without any reason given.

The third proposal is to shorten the obligation to re-employ a redundant worker to four months should new work arise in the company. At the moment this obligation is for nine months.

A blow against young women

Heli Ahokas, a lawyer at the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK says that STTK doubts that positive effects on employment will follow due to these changes. ”It is more a question of it being easier for an employer to get rid of of an employee.”

Ahokas says that the trade union confederations were heard in the working group, but there was no genuine tripartite engagement as the goal was set in advance in the Government Programme.

Rules concerning redundancies are already quite simple and straightforward in Finland, Ahokas says. To shorten the obligation to re-employ a dismissed employee makes it even easier to evade employment security.

”It is incomprehensible if an employer can offer the same or a similar job to a new person four months after casting the former employee aside.”

Annika Rönni-Sällinen, Head of Unit, Labour Policy at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK sees the danger that many jobs intended to be permanent will now be made fixed-term and it will be more difficult for young people to get permanent employment.

Increasing short-time employment makes working life heavier, Rönni-Sällinen stresses. “Short-term employees do not talk about problems in the working place or take care of their interests if they are afraid of losing their job.”

Trade union confederations proposed in the working group that employers should be obliged to give a reason for termination of employment in the trial period, but not even this was accepted, Rönni-Sällinen adds.

Jaana Meklin, lawyer at Akava, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland, says that the proposals do not evaluate whether the employment situation will actually be improved. This should be monitored, she says.

Creating chains of fixed-term periods of employment is already a problem now, Meklin says. It greatly weakens the labour market position and daily life of young women in particular.

According to the statistics fixed-term employment often concerns young people. Of employed women below 25 years of age more than half are working in fixed-term employment. For men of same age the percentage is a bit below 40 per cent.

Written by: Heikki Jokinen