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Part-time workers and extra hours

Updated: 02.03.2020

If part-time employees do more work (hours, shifts) for the same employer on top of the working hours in their employment contract, these are called extra hours. For part-time employees extra hours often mean welcome extra income. Employers must offer extra hours to the employees already on their payroll before hiring additional labour.
Hours in excess of the maximum amount of regular working hours in the Working Hours Act or in the collective agreement are not extra hours, however - they are overtime. If an employee does two jobs for two employers, that is not extra hours in this context.

Contents (click heading)

Extra hours or overtime
Right to extra hours
Importance of the right to extra hours in service sectors
Employee can demand extra hours
Extra hours to increase hours in employment contract?
Right to extra hours in a nutshell
Dos and don’ts for members

Extra hours or overtime

Extra hours are hours that a part-time employee works in excess of the number of hours in their employment contract. Extra hours are generally taken to be hours worked up to 40 hours a week, or hours worked up to 120 hours in a three-week period in hospitality services. Work done after that is overtime. Overtime pay is paid for overtime.

Generally extra hours are paid at the normal wage rate, but in some collective agreements various rates of compensation have been agreed for hours between the maximum working time defined in the collective agreements and the overtime threshold. For example, in the retail sector and the facility services sector maximum regular working time is 37.5 hours a week and in hospitality services it is 112.5 hours in a three-week period.

Workplaces can also use working time averaging schedules as provided for in the collective agreement. Then the maximum working hours do not determine the working hours per week or per three-week period - a longer reference period is used. Working hours can vary during the period, but the working hours in the reference period as a whole must be averaged to the regular maximum working time. (Check the rules on hours in excess of overtime and maximum working time here.)

Extra hours are not obligatory for the employee. When an employee makes an employment contract, they can give their consent to extra hours. Even then the employee is entitled to refuse extra hours on days off entered in the work schedule for valid period reasons.


Right to extra hours

If an employer needs more workers for duties suitable for employees doing part-time work, under the Employment Contracts Act (Chapter 2, Section 5) the employer must offer this work to these part-time employees. If accepting the work calls for training that the employer can reasonably provide in view of the aptitude of the employee, the employee must be given such training.

The right to extra hours also applies to employees on fixed-term employment contracts. The right only exists for the duration of the employment relationship, however, and does not include a right to continue working after the end of the agreed period.
Employers are therefore obliged to offer extra hours spontaneously and evenly to all those interested. Extra hours must be offered if a full-time position becomes vacant or “surplus” working hours are available. If an employer does not meet the obligation to offer extra hours, the employee is entitled to demand compensation for loss of earnings.

Importance of right to extra hours in service sectors

Getting the right to extra hours respected would be essential for the income of part-time employees. Improving incomes would also affect the attractiveness of working in the sector.

Around 17 per cent of all wage-earners have a part-time employment contract. Wholesale trade is the only PAM sector where the share of part-time workers is below the national average. In retail and the hospitality sector, on the other hand, the share of part-time workers is almost 40 per cent. In facility services and the private security sector, around 25 per cent of employees are part-time. In practice half of those who do part-time work in PAM sectors do so out of necessity because full-time employment is not available. (Statistics Finland 2016)

However, the right to extra hours is often not fully respected at workplaces. The reason given for this is that in service sectors labour needs vary depending on the time of day and the day of the week, and so more part-time workers have to be hired. Random extra hours offered at short notice can be difficult for employees to accept because they have planned their own and possibly their families’ lives based on the known work schedule. For the right to extra hours to benefit all concerned, employers should do more to plan work shifts. The working time averaging schedules in collective agreements provide scope to place work shifts at times when demand is greatest with due regard for employees’ right to extra hours.

Currently extra hours must be offered evenly to all part-time employees. This is not affected by the length of an employment contract, for example. This is a reason why some long-serving service sector employees want full-time employment but never get it in their entire career. This undermines the reputation of the industry.

Employee can demand extra hours

As an employee you can try to make sure your right to extra hours is respected. You do not specifically need to request extra hours, but there is no harm in asking.

If you are part-time by choice or you have told your employer that you do not want extra hours, your employer does not need to offer you extra hours. You are not tied to this, however - you can tell your employer at any time that you are interested in extra hours, after which your employer must offer them to you.

You can demand similar work to what you have been doing so far.

An employer must provide training if an employee needs it in order to accept the work. The training obligation is quite limited, but is more extensive than ordinary induction training.

Employers must use the working time arrangements in the collective agreement in fulfilling their obligation to offer extra hours. Employers are entitled to arrange working hours based on actual requirements. If labour is needed at a time when their own part-time employees are already working, extra hours naturally cannot be offered to them.

If the place of work stated in your employment contract is for example an economic area or the capital city region, you are entitled to apply for extra hours at the company’s operating locations in that area.

Examples:

  • An employer needs extra labour in the footwear section and the grocery cashdesk is willing to do extra hours in the footwear section. The employer is obliged to provide the necessary training in order to take on the new work.
  • The company has three operating locations in the capital city region. The employer is obliged to offer similar extra hours in all three operating locations.
  • The company has work available for a chef and a part-time salesperson. The employer is not obliged to train the salesperson to be a professional chef for the salesperson to be able to accept the extra hours.

If you notice any mistakes, contact your employer/work shift planner as soon as possible.

If you do not get any extra hours despite requesting them, contact your shop steward, who oversees the allocation of extra hours.

If no shop steward has been elected at your workplace, we recommend electing one. A shop steward can be elected at any time.

Extra hours to increase hours in employment contract?

Some PAM collective agreements contain a clause that requires employers to periodically compare actual working hours and the working hours in the employment contract together with the employee. If the actual working hours are consistently above the hours in the employment contract for no valid reason, this must be entered in the employee’s employment contract.

Under the collective agreement for retail employees, this review of working hours must take place every six months. A longer reference period not exceeding a year, can be agreed locally. Under the hospitality services collective agreement, the review must be made from January to January. A more frequent review can be agreed locally.

In the private security sector, working hours must be reviewed and employment contracts updated if required by the employee or the employer. The collective agreement for Alko employees also contains a review clause.

It is important to update actual working hours in the employment contract. The hours entered in the employment contract provide security of income.

Check your own collective agreement to see how working hours are reviewed.
Retail
Hospitality
Private security
Alko

Right to extra hours in a nutshell

  • Employers are obliged to offer extra hours to their own employees if they need more workers.
  • Extra hours must be offered if a full-time position becomes vacant or “surplus” working hours are available.
  • Hours must be offered to part-time employees suitable for the work.
  • Employers must provide reasonable training if accepting the work requires it.
  • You do not need to ask for extra hours – your employer must offer them. Nonetheless it is a good idea to state that you are interested.
  • Employees can state that they are interested in taking on extra hours at any time even if they earlier stated otherwise.
  • Doing extra hours is optional for employees. Employees can, however, give outright consent to extra hours in their employment contract.
  • Employers must offer extra hours in an even manner.
  • Employers must use working time arrangements in collective agreements in order to comply with their obligation to offer extra hours.
  • Hours must be offered to individual employees up to the maximum working time in the sector.


Is the right respected?

  • Work schedules are important for checking the right to extra hours and calculating compensation.
  • Employees or their authorised representatives can request work schedules - if unsuccessful assistance can be requested from the labour inspectorate.
  • At the request of the labour inspectorate, an employer must provide the labour inspectorate with a copy of the work schedules.
  • Shop stewards have the right to access the company’s employment information (see the collective agreement for your own sector).
  • You can check yourself that your right to extra hours is respected. Note down the scheduled hours and the hours you work. If a shift has changed, remember who was behind it. PAM’s working hours calendar can help you here.
  • Check your pay slip.
  • Check that the hours in your employment contract match the hours that you actually work.

Dos and don’ts for members

Be active. You can check yourself that your right to extra hours is respected.

  • If new employees are hired at your workplace, ask your boss for extra hours. You have a right to these before new employees are hired.
  • Monitor the situation. If it appears that you could have done the hours of a new employee, contact your shop steward.


Check that the hours in your employment contract match the hours that you actually work.

  • In the collective agreements for the retail and hospitality sectors, PAM has agreed with the employers’ federations that the employer is obliged to periodically check actual working hours and the employment contract together with the employee. If more hours are being worked than in the employment contract, the contract must be changed to reflect the reality. This guarantees more working hours on an ongoing basis.
  • Under the private security collective agreement, the hours in the employment contract must be updated to reflect the hours worked, if the employee or the employer request this. There is also a clause on this in the Alko collective agreement. Check other sectors and more detailed instructions in your collective agreement.
  • Look after your rights. If you are in doubt, contact your shop steward.


Keep a record of your scheduled and actual working hours. If a work shift changes, remember who took the initiative to do this.

  • This helps checks are made afterwards to see whether the right to extra hours was respected.

Discuss extra hours with your colleagues!

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