News & Views

Variable Working Time Arrangements Subject to Clearer Set of Rules as of 1 June 2018 – What to Take into Consideration as an Employer?

2 July 2018

Authors: Julia Parikka and Susanna Hernberg

The Finnish Parliament has approved legislative amendments to the current legislation concerning variable working time arrangements, which amendments entered into force on 1 June 2018. These amendments concern, in particular, so-called zero-hour contracts as well as other contracts under which working hours vary from week to week or month to month. Thus, the amendments will also apply to employees who work on demand. The main goals of the legislative amendments are setting clearer grounds for variable working time arrangements and ensuring unemployment security for persons whose working hours vary.

Below is a list of the key factors to be taken into consideration when agreeing on variable working time arrangements:

    • Genuine reason required for the use of variable working time
      Companies are allowed to employ employees on variable working time contracts only if it can be shown that the need for labour is variable and unpredictable. In other words, employers may no longer propose variable working time arrangements if the need for labour is permanent.


    • Information on main terms of work
      If the employer initiates a variable working time arrangement and the parties enter into an employment contract, the employer must present the employee with written information on the agreed working time as well as the situations in and the extent to which there will be a need for workforce. This information must be provided to the employee by the end of the first pay period, unless it is included upfront in the employment contract. It should also be noted that employers must provide the employees whose employment relationship has commenced prior to 1 June 2018 with such clarification within six months from the entry into force of the legislation. The obligation to provide the additional information aims to ensure that the parties agreeing on variable working time arrangements have the same expectations regarding the contents of the employment relationship.


    • Employee’s entitlement for sick pay
      Employees are entitled to sick pay provided that the work schedule or other factors clearly indicate that the employee would have been at work if it was not for the sick leave.


    • Predictability to shifts
      The work shift schedule must cover as long a period as possible, and it should be handed out at least one week before the period in question is due to begin. Furthermore, the employer is allowed to determine the employee’s working hours up to the minimum number of hours specified in the employment contract. Thus, if the employer offers the employee more working hours than the agreed minimum number of hours, the employee must be given an opportunity to have their say on the situations in and the extent to which they are able take on extra hours. Moreover, the employee working irregular hours cannot consent to additional working hours for an indefinite period, but instead consent may only be given for an individual occasion or for a short period of time.


    • Employee’s entitlement to salary during the notice period
      The employee's salary during the notice period must, at a minimum, correspond to their average salary during the preceding 12-week work period regardless of how many hours they have worked during the notice period. In other words, if the working hours offered during the notice period are less than the average working hours over the 12 weeks prior to the notice period, the employer must compensate the employee for the loss of income.