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Global Employment Briefing: Finland, October 2018

  • Finland
  • Employment law


Recent and Forthcoming Legislative Amendments

The new Trade Secrets Act mentioned in our previous Briefing came into force on 15 August 2018.

In addition, the following legislative amendments are currently proposed:

  • The employer’s right to terminate the employment on grounds related to the employee's person is intended to be updated so that companies employing fewer than 20 employees would have a lower accepted threshold for giving notice in some situations
  • A reform of the Working Hours Act to meet the needs of the 2020’s working life is being prepared. A Government bill is expected to be introduced in the autumn.

Recent rulings of the Supreme Court of Finland

The Supreme Court of Finland has given three preliminary rulings in labour discrimination cases, which is an unusually large number of judgements in this subject matter in such a short period of time.

The first case concerned discrimination on the grounds of a job applicant’s physical condition. The job applicant had worked in the company under a number of fixed-term contracts as a temporary employee. After receiving a medical certificate indicating that the job applicant was temporarily unable to work, the company decided not to offer any more work to the job applicant. The Supreme Court ruled that the company had discriminated against the job applicant on the basis of his state of health when the company stopped providing the applicant work on account of his sick leave. The company was sentenced to pay the applicant damages pursuant to the Employment Contracts Act.

In the second case, an employee had been employed by a company almost continuously for three successive fixed-term employment periods. After the last fixed-term contract expired, the company did not offer the employee a new employment contract because the employee had not received a written occupational health statement to show that he was suitable for the job. A decisive condition for getting the statement would have been occupational health negotiations arranged by the employer. As the employer thought that the negotiations were unnecessary the negotiations were not arranged. The assumed reason why the company had acted in that way was the employee’s obesity. The Supreme Court stated that the company had discriminated against the employee on the basis of his state of health and was sentenced to pay damages.

In the last of these three cases, an employee had made a request for proceedings to the labour protection authority on account of his superior treating him inappropriately at the workplace. While the request was pending, the Board of Directors of the employer organisation decided to terminate the employee’s employment contract. The Supreme Court held that making a request to the labour protection authority is to be interpreted as professional activity on the basis of which discrimination is prohibited. As the request was deemed to have affected the Board’s decision to terminate the employment contract, the employee’s supervisor, who voted in favour of dismissal as a member of the Board of Directors, was sentenced to pay damages to the employee for employment discrimination.