Littler Global Guide - Finland - Q1 2019

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New Working Hours Act, Effective January 1, 2020

New Legislation Enacted

Author: Maria Wesander, Counsel – Dottir Attorneys Ltd.

A new Working Hours Act (työaikalaki) approved by the Finnish Parliament on March, 13, 2019, will enter into force on January, 1, 2020, and applies to remote working, but it does not apply to work that is performed almost entirely outside a fixed workplace so that the employer cannot monitor it. The new Act also introduces a new flexible working hours scheme (joustotyöaika) for employees (especially specialists) who may decide independently over 50% of their working time and place. The Act also makes it possible to introduce a statutory working-time account in all workplaces subject to agreement between the employer and employee representatives or the personnel as a whole. In addition, the contractual freedom regarding flexible working hours (liukuva työaika) has been increased and the possibility to agree on regular working hours at workplaces has been widened. The new Act does not include limits for overtime hours. Instead, the statutory maximum amount of working hours (including overtime) is 48 hours per week calculated as the average of a four-month period.

 

Amendment of the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life

New Legislation Enacted

Author: Maria Wesander, Counsel – Dottir Attorneys Ltd.

An amendment of the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life (759/2004) entered into force on April 1, 2019, to bring Finnish legislation within compliance with the GDPR (EU 2016/679) and, to the extent possible, update the Finnish legislation regarding privacy in working life. Consequently, the Act has introduced changes to the general requirements on collecting personal employee data, the processing of health-related information and camera surveillance. However, it would appear that the current employee whistleblowing practices might contravene the Act’s requirements on the collection of personal employee data. Under the Act, an employer is entitled to collect an employee’s personal data only from the employee in question, and from other sources only with the employee’s consent. As personal data can be collected without the employee’s consent only when the law explicitly provides it, whistleblowing practices not explicitly provided for by law, e.g., in respect of harassment allegations, may be problematic in the light of the amended Act.

 

Supreme Court Rules on Scope of Noncompete Clauses

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Maria Wesander, Counsel – Dottir Attorneys Ltd.

On March 22, 2019, the Supreme Court of Finland held that a clause – under which an employee must compensate the employer for the costs of employment-related training provided by the employer during the last 24 months of employment if the employee takes up a competing position within six months from the end of the employment relationship – was not a noncompete clause. In fact, said clause was unreasonable and unenforceable due to the customary nature of the provided education, the amount of the agreed compensation and the long duration of the obligation. Therefore, the scope of noncompete clauses should not be broadly interpreted. Rather, an obligation to compensate for customary training (such as preparatory training in relation to a legalized real estate broker examination, for example) is most likely nonenforceable. Whereas an obligation to compensate for extensive, expensive, noncustomary and nonmandatory education (such as an M.B.A. or LL.M. degree) would likely be enforceable if taking up a competing position within a relatively short time from the completion of the education.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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