Finland’s Updated Working Hours Act Takes Effect 1 January 2020

Finnish Working Hours Act to be updated, including new flexible working time and maximum amount of working hours.

The Finnish Parliament passed the new Working Hours Act of Finland on 13 March 2019. The Act will enter into force on 1 January 2020. The Act caters to the requirements of the Working Hours Directive and its interpretations. The new Act aims to respond to the demands of today’s working life by facilitating flexible working-time arrangements and improving employees’ possibilities to combine their work and personal life.

Finnish working hours and Ally Law

The new Act will introduce some important innovations, such as a new flexible working-time arrangement for specialists, and a statutory working hours bank. Some of the key changes are highlighted below.

The new Act applies to more employees than before

Generally, the new Act shall apply to all employees. However, the Act does not apply to certain groups of employees who have full autonomy over their working time. The concept of working-time autonomy is new, and it means that the employee is entitled to decide his or her daily and weekly working time independently. Therefore, the scope of application of the new Act shall be slightly broader than previously.

Remote work

Unlike the old Working Hours Act, the new Act is relatively neutral in relation to where the work is performed. Since in many industries work is no longer tied to a certain place or time, the application of the new Act does not require work to be carried out in a certain place. Considering the foregoing, the new Act also applies to remote working.

New flexible working-time

The Act introduces a new concept of flexible working time. The employer and the employee may agree on flexible working time if the nature of the employee’s duties is such that the employee may decide independently how to allocate at least half of his or her total working time, as well as the location of work. The rest of the employee’s working time may still be scheduled by the employer. Flexible working time will be well-suited for specialist work where specific goals and overall timetables are more important than working at a specific time.

Statutory working hours bank

The new Act will include provisions regarding working-hours banks. A working-hours bank refers to an arrangement where an employee can save additional and overtime hours, as well as flextime hours, accrued days off, holiday bonuses, and other benefits to the working-hours bank, and withdraw free time corresponding thereto later.

Previously, working hours banks have only been stipulated in different collective bargaining agreements. The new provisions allow for the introduction of a statutory working hours bank for all workplaces, even in cases where an employer is not a party to any collective agreement.

Maximum amount of working hours

Currently, the maximum amount of overtime is 250 hours per calendar year, with a possibility to agree on additional overtime of 80 hours per calendar year. However, the overtime may not exceed 138 hours over a period of four months. The new Act’s provisions no longer regulate the maximum amount of overtime separately, but instead it includes a limit for total working hours. The maximum working hours, including overtime, will be on average 48 hours per week in a four-month period with no possibility to agree on additional overtime.

This overview of the updated Working Hours Act of Finland was prepared by Petri Nevalainen and Sofia Toivonen of Ally Law member Applex.