[author: Jukka Pello]*
New Legislation Enacted
Author: Jukka Pello, Partner – Dottir Attorneys Ltd
On June 1, 2018, new legislation regarding zero-hour employment contracts took effect. A zero-hour contract is an employment agreement where the employee is required to work a set of variable of hours and work on demand. Under the new legislation, an employer may not offer a variable working time contract to an employee if the employer has a continuous need for the work being provided. Additionally, the minimum working time cannot be lower than the hours needed to complete the job. Moreover, the employee must be provided with a written statement explaining the extent of the labor the employer needs. Rules on additional working hours and sick leave have also been enacted.
On June 27, 2018, the Finnish Parliament approved the new Trade Secrets Act (“liikesalaisuuslaki”) and is expected to go into effect by early fall. The Act, which implements the European Union’s Trade Secrets Directive, clarifies fragmented legislation on trade secrets and introduces a common definition of trade secret. Under this new law, employees are only obligated to keep trade secrets confidential during the term of employment, unless obtained unlawfully; confidentiality agreements will still be necessary. The Act also provides relief for the unlawful acquisition, use, and disclosure of trade secrets.
Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency
On May 18, 2018, the Supreme Court of Finland held that an employer discriminated against a bus driver on the basis of her health. The driver argued that the employer did not renew her contract because she was overweight. The Court found that the treatment of the bus driver was not based on the nature of her duties or the actual and decisive requirements for their performance, thereby establishing that she was discriminated based on her health. Accordingly, the court emphasized that treating individuals differently solely based on a suspicion that being overweight might affect the employee's future work performance could not be considered proportionate.
On April 16, 2018, the Supreme Court determined that discontinuing work offers based on the amount of sick leave used constitutes discrimination based on state of health. The Court held that the employer could not, merely based on the amount of sick leave used by the stevedore, conclude that changes in the stevedore’s health would have rendered him incapable of performing the work in the future. Further, the employer provided no evidence to show that the safety at the workplace would have been endangered due to the stevedore’s health.
*Partner – Dottir Attorneys Ltd