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    The Finnish labor legislation an introduction part 5

    Collective Agreement vs. Employment Contract
    There are several different factors that regulate the employment relationship between employer and employee.

    At a more general level, there is labor legislation that regulates all employment and employment-related issues. At a bit more specific level, there are different collective agreements for specific sectors bargained by central labor parties (in the university sector Juko ry and Sivistystyönantajat). And at the very individual level, there is the employment contract between the employer and the employee. There may also be different kinds of established practices at the work place that also regulate the employment relationship.

    I have already discussed the main labor laws in Finland. Below I will discuss the relations between collective agreement and individual employment contract.

    The collective agreement is a type of contract between central labor parties at different sectors or work-specific areas in Finland. The collective agreement provides guidelines for the employment relationship at those work places where it is applied. In collective agreement, there are regulations about the salary systems that are used at the work place, the working hour systems, annual holidays, absences from the work place, local bargaining practices and different kinds of sector related regulations. Some of the matters regulated in the collective agreement may also be found in the various labor laws, but they may be agreed upon in a different manner in the collective agreement, usually on a higher level than in the respective law. The employment contract is a contract between employer and employee as described before in the article covering The Employment Contracts Act. The employment contract is a specific contract and also the most important piece of regulation governing the individual employment relationship. In the employment contract are listed the specific duties of the employee and his/her personal salary, among other things. Employment contract may always have better terms for the employee than those stated in legislation or the collective agreement, but never worse, since legislation and regulations in collective agreement are compulsory and are there basically to protect the employee. Also, when there is a collision between the employment contract and the collective agreement, the employment contract has priority.

    Over an unspecified amount of time (several years, usually) a practice may develop and become established in such a way that it is considered legally binding. For example, the employer might pay out a Christmas bonus and fail to document this practice in any way. Over the years, the practice of paying the Christmas bonus may be established as a common practice, and after that the employer may not withdraw or change such a practice on their own initiative.

    For more details, please visit: www.sivistystyonantajat.fi/tiedostopankki/158/General_collective_agreement_for_universities_1_April_2014_31_January_2017.pdf

    Mia Weckman

    • Painetussa lehdessä sivu 44