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  • Maarit Valo
    Chair, the Finnish union of university professors

    Retirement willfully or forcefully?

    The goal of the government is the prolonging of careers. Labor market organizations are currently contemplating changes to the pension system. They are also considering ways of turning the averige retirement age higher. Results are expected during the autumn.

    There have been reports that more and more Finns would be ready to postpone retirement. Especially those with academic education are willing to continue their careers if the terms can be agreed on.The rules of working life and workplace culture have to support the enjoyment of an elderly employee as well. In addition, the fact that some of us have entered working life later due to longer education will have to be compensated in pension arrangements.

    The experts in Universities and research institutes are exemplary in late retirement. Of those, who answered the professorial work 2014 questionnaire, 35 % would like to retire at the age of 65 and 22% a little later, at the age of 68. 7 % of those who answered vote for even later retirement age, at the age of 69, or later. Liberty for research and the securing of academic freedom were deemed part of the criteria for prolonging careers, as was the increasing of assisting personnel.

    Professors wish to continue conducting some important professional duties even after retirement. 82 % of those that answered the questionnaire would be willing to continue as emeritus or emerita. Is there a profession, where the commitment to work would be this strong?

    Lately some Universities have become guilty of persuading, exhorting and even compelling to make their staff retire at the earliest official age. Other Universities have been inquiring about retirement plans way in advance. However, every University employee has the right to decide for themselves, which is the right time for retiring between the years of age 63-68. Despite the personal retirement age, vacation age is at the moment 68 years, and to this age we have the right to work, if we want to.There is also the option, that the employee and the employer agree that the employee continues to work roundedly even after turning 68. This is an alternative that has not been much used in Universities.

    In Universities and research institutions, this year has regrettably been plagued by giving notices. The employments of those near retirement have also been terminated or made part-time. Age, however, can never be the reason for giving notice neither youth or old age. Co-operation negotiations have also led to the option of retiring immediately when the personal retirement age is reached. If you will not retire, you will be given notice. And when research projects still in process need someone to finish them, there is the emeritus/emerita agreement. After signing it, you can do the work for free as a pensioner!

    We do not want the American model, where there is no retirement age for professors. It is good to have some kind of general retirement age. In the years to come, it may, however, become an issue for discussion, whether us working in Universities would like to raise the age we have the right to work to. Flexibility concerning the upper limit of retirement age is needed, so that those who have done an excellent University career in Finland do not have to go out of country to continue their careers.

    the finnish union of university professors conducted the professorial work 2014 questionnaire in april. the percentage of those answered was 48. there will be more information on the results in the next acatiimi and in the union member letter. there will also be information on the careers of professors in the report on the status of the academic community in finland.

    Maarit Valo
    Chair, the Finnish union of university professors

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