Legal Alerts / 2 Apr 2019

New Working Hours Act Approved by the Parliament

The new Finnish Working Hours Act has now been approved by the Parliament. The Act will come into force on 1 January 2020, and it will replace the current Finnish Working Hours Act. The new Act aims to respond to the demands of today’s working life by facilitating flexible working hour arrangements and improving employees’ possibilities to combine their work and personal life.

We discuss some of the most essential changes that the new Finnish Working Hours Act will entail in more detail below.

The Act will apply to more employees than before

As a rule, the new Act will apply to all employees. However, the Act does not apply to certain groups of employees who have full autonomy over their working hours. These are employees whose working hours are not monitored or determined in advance and who are entitled to decide their daily and weekly working hours independently. For example, the new Act continues to allow for the top management of a company to be excluded from working hour monitoring.

On the other hand, when compared to the current situation, the fact that the employee works from home will no longer have significance when determining if the employee’s working hours are being monitored or not. Further, the new Act might no longer allow certain specialists, whose work duties are comparable to the management of a company, to be excluded from working hour monitoring. In short, the scope of application of the new Act will be slightly broader than before. As such, it is advisable to ensure that your current working hour monitoring practices remain valid also in future.

The Act introduces a new flexible working time arrangement for specialists

The new Act introduces a new working time arrangement, which can be used especially in demanding specialist work where the employer sets specific goals and overall time schedules but has no need to dictate all of the employee’s working hours. With the new working time arrangement, the employer and employee can agree that the employee freely decides when and where they work for at least half of their working time. The rest of the employee’s working hours (from 0% to 49% of their working time) may still be scheduled by the employer.

Traditional flexitime can be used more freely

The current Act already recognises flexible working hour arrangements, where the employee decides when they start and end their workday within certain preapproved limits. The new Act will allow the employee to shorten or extend their workday by four hours – as opposed to the current limit of three hours. The employee’s workday can also be divided into two parts if so agreed. Under the new Act, the employee’s accumulated working hours cannot exceed 60 hours at the end of a four-month monitoring period, whereas the maximum amount of accumulated working hours is currently 40 hours.

The working hours bank will be available to all employers

The working hours bank refers to an arrangement where employees can convert, for example, their overtime compensation or holiday bonuses into time off and save the time off for later use. Currently, working hours banks can only be used if so agreed in the collective agreement applied by the employer. In future, also employers who are not bound by a collective agreement can agree on the implementation of a statutory working hours bank with the employees or their representatives.

Our experts are available to assist in addressing any questions you may have relating to the topic. Please feel free to contact any of the Borenius attorneys listed in this alert or those with whom you usually work.

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