FINLAND: Annual Update – Expected labour law changes in 2016

Job Alternation Leave

Amendments to the terms of Job Alternation Leave: ‘Job Alternation Leave’ is an arrangement where an existing employee applies to take time out from work. Whilst they are absent, the employer can offer an unemployed jobseeker the opportunity to gain work experience through fixed-term employment.  With effect from January 1, 2016 employees wishing to take the leave will now have to have 20 years’ service with the employer (previously 16 years was sufficient). The duration of the leave will also be shorter; it cannot exceed 180 calendar days. In addition, Job Alternation Leave can no longer be taken in sections.
Action required:
(1) Employers should ensure HR are aware of the changes.
(2) Review and amend any policies that contain non-compliant terms.

Health and safety

Reform of legislation concerning employment accidents and occupational illnesses: As of January 1, 2016, employers must take out employment accident insurance. An employee will only need to be covered if their annual wages exceed €1,200. Employers must also notify the insurance company of any accident as soon as possible. Notification must be done within ten business days from having been informed of the incident.
Action required:
(1) Employers should check if they are obliged to take out employment accident insurance based on the new legislation.
(2) Employers should check their internal procedures concerning employment accidents, and ensure they reflect the new notification time limits.

Retail shop opening hours

Shop opening hours deregulated: The reforms are expected to improve retail companies’ ability to offer more working hours to their current employees. They should also help to encourage the hire of new full-time and part-time staff. The new rules will give entrepreneurs more freedom to decide when to open their shops. Small business owners operating in shopping centres or similar concentrations of shops will still have the right to keep their shops closed on one day of the week. The changes will take effect on January 1, 2016.
Action required: If applicable to the business, consider whether to change opening hours, review existing staff hours and consider whether hiring is an option in light of this.

Significant further amendments to labour legislation

Please note that the Finnish Government has planned significant amendments to labour legislation, but contents of the amendments are unresolved at the moment and the law drafting is still at an early stage. However, it is possible that there will be other, significant amendments to labour legislation that will enter into force during the year 2016.
Action required: No action at this stage but employers should monitor the progress of the proposed new rules.