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20.03.2024 09:58

Starting a summer job in a service sector? – Here are 5 things all summer workers should know

When you know the basics of summer employment, you can start out in your new job with confidence, and you can avoid many potential problems.

Did you get yourself a summer job? Well done!

Before you jump in, check out our tips for summer workers below. These can help you make sure that you enjoy your employment rights in your summer job.

1. Always make a written employment contract

An employment contract protects you against many worries. Before you start your new summer job, you should get a written employment contract. An employment contract should state, at the very least, your wages, working hours, work tasks, the length of employment, i.e. the start and end date, the notice period, and the relevant collective agreement.

Check that the employment contract states the minimum working hours, i.e. how many hours a week you will work at least. So-called zero-hours contracts and on-call contracts can cause unpleasant surprises for summer workers as they don’t guarantee any working hours or shifts at all. Then you might earn less than you expected or nothing at all. The commerce sector collective agreement, for example, bans the use of zero-hours contracts in the sector altogether.

You don’t have to sign an employment contract straight away – you can ask your employer for time to study it. You can also go through your employment contract in private with someone close to you and return a signed copy to your employer later.

Also check that the wages paid for your work are fair. The wages that must be paid for service sector work are agreed in the sectoral collective agreements. For example, the minimum wages for sales assistants are defined in the commerce sector collective agreement and minimum wages for waiters in the hotel, restaurant and leisure industry collective agreement. An employment contract cannot agree worse employment terms, e.g. lower wages, than what is agreed in the collective agreement.

Read more about employment contracts

2. A fixed-term employment contract is binding on both parties

Summer jobs are often for a fixed period. A fixed-term employment contract is binding on both employers and employees. You should note that you can only terminate a fixed-term employment contract before the end date if you specifically agree this with your employer.

Fixed-term summer jobs can also contain a trial period if this is agreed in your employment contract. The purpose of a trial period is to see if the employment contract made meets the expectations of both sides. The length of the trial period is often agreed in the employment contract. It can’t be more than half of the length of the employment relationship, but in any case not more than six months.

Within the trial period the employment relationship can be terminated by the employee or the employer. If the employer wants to terminate the contract during the trial period, however, there always has to be a valid reason. If an employment contract doesn’t mention a trial period, it means that there isn’t one.

3. Summer workers have the right to orientation training

When you start your summer job, you have a right under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to get orientation training, meaning guidance in your work tasks and workplace rules. In the orientation training you are taught your work duties, how to use work equipment properly and safely and workplace practices. Orientation training is for all summer workers whatever sector you’re going to work in.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions during your orientation training. Also find out what the practices are on taking breaks if this hasn’t been explained to you.

If no orientation training is provided, you should raise the matter without delay with your supervisor or a staff representative at the workplace – either the occupational safety representative or the shop steward.

4. Keep a record of the hours you have worked and keep your shift lists

The shift list contains the shifts assigned to you. Employees should get a written shift list in advance, in the commerce sector for example it is no later than two weeks before the particular period begins and in the hospitality sector it is one week before. Keep all the shift lists you get in a safe place.

Right at the start of your summer job you should also start recording all the hours you have worked. Note down the date and the starting and ending times of your shifts on paper, in a notebook or electronically. When you have a record of all the hours you have worked, you can check your payslips to see that you have been paid your wages and any supplements correctly.

Download a readymade form here to keep track of your working hours (in Finnish)

Every year, numerous cases come to PAM’s attention where summer workers have not been paid correctly. That’s why it’s important to keep a record of your working hours and compare them to your payslip.

5. Pay attention to your social media activity

It’s a good idea to pay attention to your social media usage and activity when you get a job and while you’re working. Although employees have freedom of speech, this also involves responsibility for what you say. For example, you mustn’t communicate any confidential matters about the company you work for. If you suspect that your employer is breaking the law or is otherwise acting improperly, you should raise the matter with the workplace shop steward.