The new Finnish Working Hours Act (872/2019) (the “New Act”) to become effective as of 1.1.2020. The New Act is generally applicable and therefore in case some other Act enacts regarding working hours such special legal norms shall prevail over the general rules. The purpose of the New Act is to update the current Working Hours Act to correspond to the needs and requirements of today’s corporate and work environment. The New Act enables a use of more flexible working hours as well as working time banks. However, restrictions regarding unorganised employers remain as they were.
Further to this, the New Act enacts a new flexible working time model, a statutory working time bank as well as other amendments regarding possibilities to organise working time more flexibly. The main idea behind these amendments is that possibilities to offer flexible working times in the future are secured. This is considered to be important when considering various needs of employers and the way requirements for working are rapidly changing. Pressure to change work time requirements is now recognised by the legislator. Therefore, the New Act provides possibilities to differentiate more clearly employees work and private time which under the current act is not straight forward.
However, the general principles of the current Working Hours Act are transferred to the New Act. Therefore, even though the New Act provides new options to execute working time requirements these new amendments are interpreted by the general principles of the current Working Hours Act which can affect in practice how the New Act is applied.
New flexible working hours is a new approach to recognise distance working. By introducing this new term, the legislator accepted the fact that nowadays working is not bound to certain fixed place or time of the day.
Flexible working hours must be agreed between the employer and employee. The agreement shall include also a work schedule. In the agreement must also agree on the days when working time can be appointed/used flexibly. It is also worth to notice that it is possible to agree that there are more than five working days or only four working days. However, in case the employer appoints working day to Sunday then raised salary is remunerated to the employee. The agreement can be terminated by both parties at the end of the next following working time levelling period.
Further, weekly working time cannot be more than 40 hours in a period of four months. When using fixed working time such practise must be agreed in the labour agreement and such fixed working time cannot be more than 50 % of the regular working time. Fixed working time is not allowed to be agreed on time between 23-6. At the end of each working time levelling period the maximum accrual can be 60 hours and falling below no more than 20 hours.
Furthermore, the working time bank system takes into consideration that working is nowadays more and more linked to projects. On certain moments there can be more and other times less work to be done. The working time bank concept provides practical solutions to level work load on a longer period.
The maximum working time can fluctuate according to the New Act in a four months’ time period from the determined 40 hours/week, however, being no more than 48 hours/week and no more than ten hours a day. Therefore, it is allowed that during a period of an individual week the week’s working time is surpassed. However, at the same time there should also be shorter total week’s hours during the four months review period nevertheless levelling the average weekly hours to 40 on the four months review period.
The maximum working time shall expand on a yearly level to approximately 2300 hours from the current 2250. Furthermore, waiting time shall be calculated as working time according to the New Act.
The New Act limits the amount of subsequent night shifts to five. Previously the limit was seven. However, as the use of night shifts expands to new areas i.e. retail sector the limitation certainly limits individual maximum night shift amounts. However, in general the use of night shifts will expand rapidly in Finland in the years to come. Night shift begins at 23 and ends at 6.
LKOS Law Office’s lawyers are available to assist and to clarify any questions you may have regarding the above or your current business law issues. Please feel free to contact Specialist Partner Oscari Seppälä in respect to labour law questions.
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*This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute a legal advice.