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Global employment briefing: Finland, June 2018

  • Finland
  • Employment law


A summary of recent employment developments in Finland for global employers:

New controls on the use of flexible hours contracts

At the start of June 2018, several amendments were introduced to the use of variable hours contracts (i.e. so called zero hours contracts and other flexible time arrangements, including work on demand). These amendments, in force from 1 June 2018, include:

  • Variable hours contracts can be used at the instigation of employers only if the amount of work genuinely varies.
  • The minimum amount of working hours must equate to the employer’s actual need for labour. If, based on the recorded working hours in the past six months, it is clear that the actual need for labour does not correspond to the minimum amount of working hours, employees may insist that the minimum working hours are renegotiated to correspond to actual need.
  • When using a variable hours contract the employer is obliged to give the employee a written statement clarifying the extent of its need for labour.
  • The employer may no longer unilaterally adjust the amount of pay during sick leave and notice periods through work allocation.
  • If the employer wants the employee to work more than the minimum amount of working hours, the employee must be asked the extent to which and on what grounds he/she can comply during that period.
  • Employees who have variable hours contracts may accept additional work for a short period only or on a case by case basis.

Although the above changes are in force from 1 June, they also apply to contracts which precede this date. However, a transition period of six months applies to such contracts as regards how they are used and the nature of written statements. During this transition period also, the parties are given opportunity to assess the operation of the working hours clause and the actual need for labour, with a view to renegotiating the working hours clause if necessary.

New Trade Secrets Act

Historically, the protection of trade secrets has not been specifically legislated for in Finland but the government has now proposed a new Trade Secrets Act which will implement the EU Directive on Trade Secrets (2016/943). According to the government proposal, the new Trade Secrets Act will come into force on 9 June 2018 when the period for implementing the Directive ends. However, the Act has not yet been passed by Parliament and may well come into force later than originally intended.

The proposed new Trade Secrets Act provides broader legal remedies for companies which experience trade secrets infringements but also introduces greater consistency, along with some new terminology. For example, if passed, a new provision on whistleblowing clarifies the circumstances in which infringements and illegal actions may be reported, regardless of being a trade secret. A trade secret could also be disclosed directly to employee representatives in certain situations, rather than to the employer. The permitted use of non-disclosure agreements would remain the same as before.