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Co-operation negotiations

Co-operation negotiations are negotiations between an employer and employees at the workplace as set out in the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings. The intention is that an employee must negotiate matters that will have a major impact on employees.

The following questions are answered below. Click to get to the section you want.

When do co-operation negotiations have to be conducted? 
Who participates in co-operation negotiations?
How do co-operations negotiations proceed? 
What are the time limits in co-operation negotiations? 

When do co-operation negotiations have to be conducted? 
If a company has at least 20 employees, the company must comply with the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings and conduct co-operation negotiations. 

Negotiations must be conducted for example if an employer is considering terminating employment or laying off employees for financial or production reasons. For example, a drop in demand due to the coronavirus epidemic could be such a reason. The law defines what matters must be negotiated at the very least.

In companies smaller than this, co-operation procedures can be conducted either using the guidelines in the collective agreement or procedures agreed at the workplace n.
Who participates in co-operation negotiations?
A representative of the employer and a representative of the employees from the staff group that the negotiations concern participate in the negotiations. The employees’ representative is typically the shop steward.

If the employees have not appointed a shop steward for themselves, they can appoint a representative for themselves for the co-operation negotiations.  

How do co-operation negotiations proceed? 
In cases involving a reduction in the workforce, the employer must submit a so-called negotiating proposal to the employees. There is a time limit for submitting this.

The negotiating proposal must set out when the negotiations begin and at the very least the main points in the negotiations.
If an employer is planning to terminate employment or introduce part-time working or lay off over 10 employees for over 90 days, the employer must set out in the proposal the reasons for the planned measures, an estimate of the amount of labour to be reduced and whom the negotiation concerns.

In the negotiations themselves the reasons for the employer’s plan, such as the financial situation, are examined. The staff representative can make proposals as to what measures the employees would consider acceptable. 

The staff representative must inform the other employees about the negotiations. 

A minimum duration is specified for the negotiations (see below). The employer must conduct the negotiations to the end before deciding what actions to take.

The negotiations do not need to result in unanimity; an employer can make his or her decision independently. The aim should be unanimity, however. 

When the negotiations have ended, the employer gives notice in writing to employees whose employment is to be terminated or who are to be laid off or made part-time. More here on lay-offs and the related time limits. You can find the time limits for termination of employment in different sectors in the collective agreements
What are the time limits in co-operation negotiations? 
The Act on Co-operation within Undertakings stipulates how long before the start of negotiations a negotiating proposal must be submitted. It also stipulates how long the negotiations must last.

An employer’s negotiating proposal must be submitted latest 5 days before: 

The minimum negotiation time is

14 days

• if less than 10 employees are affected by the redundancies, lay-offs or part-time work considered by the employer, or

• redundancies lasting up to 90 days apply to at least 10 employees, the employer is deemed to have fulfilled its obligation to consult under this chapter

6 weeks

• if at least 10 employees are subject to redundancies, lay-offs lasting longer than 90 days or part-time work considered by the employer

• However, the negotiation period is 14 days in a company with at least 20 but less than 30 regular employees.

More information on co-operation negotiations in PAM wiki:

Preparing for co-operation negotiations (in Finnish)
Co-operation procedure