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Labour Market

The labour market means the market between employers and employees in which employees look for jobs and employers provide jobs. When an employer offers an employee a job, they sign an employment contract (työsopimus) and establish an employment relationship (työsuhde). The labour market is an important section of society, and efforts are made to influence its activities by politics and other societal policy-making. The labour market involves a variety of people in different positions and many types of institutions. The labour market is governed by various laws, agreements and economic trends.

The labour market in Finland has evolved and developed over time. Changes in the economic structure have had a major impact on the structure of the labour market. Back in the early 20th century, most Finns worked in agriculture, but industrial jobs gradually became more common. The forest industry, in particular, provided many jobs. Today, the majority of employees work in the service sector.

The Finnish labour market is governed by a culture of democratic negotiations and agreements. Individual people are represented in the labour market by institutions, such as unions. They negotiate and agree on rules and measures concerning the labour market, such as the wage level, working hours, measures to improve the employment rate etc. This system is known as the labour market system (työmarkkinajärjestelmä) and it has gradually evolved into its current form.

The Labour Force and Those Not in the Labour Force

From the perspective of the labour market, people are divided into the labour force and those not in the labour force. The labour force consists of both the employed and the unemployed. Unemployed people do not work, but they at the disposal of the labour market. So, they have registered as unemployed jobseekers (työtön työnhakija) with a TE Office and are looking for a job. Conversely, those not in the labour force are not at the disposal of the labour market. They include people who are on sick leave, taking care of children at home, pensioners, students and those performing their military service. The unemployment rate in Finland in 2017 was 10 percent.

Employer Sectors and Fields

People in Finland work for various employers who represent different sectors of society. In terms of the labour market, the private sector consists of businesses, associations and organizations. The public sector consists of the state and municipalities.

The biggest employer in Finland is the private sector, which employs about 72% of the working Finnish population. About 23% of the working population work for municipalities and about 5% for the state.

Occupations are classified into different groups depending on the nature of the work and the places where employees work. These groups are known as professional fields or industries (ammattiala or toimiala). The fields can be classified according to many different criteria.

Different fields include:

  • social welfare and health

  • commerce

  • services

  • transport and traffic

  • technology

  • culture and communications

  • construction

  • education

  • hotel and catering

  • administration

The biggest employers in Finland are the fields of social welfare and health, industry and technology and commerce and services.

Equity and Equality in Working Life

In Finland, everyone has the right to equitable and equal treatment. All forms of discrimination, i.e. unequal treatment, and harassment are prohibited. This also concerns working life. The Non-discrimination Act and the Act on Equality between Women and Men guarantee these basic rights for all.

Placement of Foreigners in the Finnish Labour Market

The employment of those moving to Finland is extremely important not only for the subsistence, welfare and integration of the people themselves, but also for society as a whole. If immigrants find employment successfully, they will pay more taxes, which benefits the national economy and helps to fund public services. Immigrants also constitute a fairly large potential workforce, because most of them are quite young.

When a person moves to Finland, finding a job may be challenging at first due to, for instance, insufficient language skills. But the longer a person lives in Finland, the more his or her employment opportunities improve.

Applying for a Job

When you apply for a job in Finland, you need to write a curriculum vitae (ansioluettelo) and a job application (työhakemus). They are sent to the employer.

Curriculum Vitae

A curriculum vitae, or CV, contains basic information about the job applicant, such as his or her education, work experience, language skills, IT skills and hobbies. You can also include a reference (suosittelija) in your CV, such as a previous supervisor or colleague who can say something positive about you. A good CV is quite short, no more than two pages long. It should have a clear layout that is easy to read.

In Finland, education and job experience are the most crucial factors in job search. It is also a good idea to describe e.g. your hobbies and voluntary work as well, because they can also provide skills that are useful in working life. The contact information of the job applicant must be stated clearly. You can also include a photograph in your CV, if you wish. Good CV templates can be found online.

Job Application

The other important document when applying for a job is a job application. It is a so-called marketing letter with which the job applicant tries to stand out from other applicants. A good job application is clear, short and to the point. It is also personal enough for the recruitment officer to notice it. A job application should be no longer than one page long.

In the application, it is important to state why you are applying for the job in question and to describe your competence. It is also essential to state how you meet the requirements of the job and what you are like as an employee. It is important to only mention things that are relevant for the job in question. The aim of the application is to arouse the recruitment officer's interest so that he or she wants to invite you to an interview.

Job Interview

The employer will invite some of the applicants to a job interview (työhaastattelu) based on their job application and CV. If you are invited to an interview, it is important to prepare carefully by, for instance, rehearsing possible interview questions beforehand. During the interview, you need to be able to clearly describe e.g.

  • yourself

  • your competence

  • your strengths and weaknesses

  • your motives for applying for the job in question

  • your future plans

 

Before vacant position. Thinking about your personal competence and possible gaps in your competence before the interview will make it easier to answer questions.

the interview, it is important to consider how you, personally, fulfil the requirements of the 

You should also do a background search on the workplace where you will be interviewed. If the job applicant is familiar with what the company does, it is easier for him or her to describe how he or she could benefit the company. Interviewed job applicants are often requested to ask something from the interviewer. So, it is a good idea to come up with a few questions beforehand that are related to the job that you are applying for or the company activities.

It is vital to make a good first impression on the interviewer in the interview situation. You should dress neatly for the interview, but not too formally. In Finland, people usually dress quite casually at work.

Bring all your testimonials of service (työtodistus) and educational certificates with you and do not be late. Try to speak clearly and truthfully. If you are asked about your weaknesses or negative qualities during the interview, try to turn them into personal learning goals.

Types of Employment Relationships

Today, people in Finland work in a wide variety of different employment relationships. The type of employment relationship is stated in the employment contract and it affects the duration of the employment and the working hours, among other things. An employment contract can be valid indefinitely (toistaiseksi voimassa oleva), also known as permanent (vakituinen), or it can be fixed- term (määräaikainen), also known as temporary.

Indefinite and Fixed-term Employment

An employment contract that is valid indefinitely means that the employment relationship is permanent. The employer or employee may terminate the contract, if necessary, but they must observe the period of notice. The employer must have a valid reason for dismissing an employee, such as the poor financial situation of the company or the fact that the employee has not fulfilled his or her obligations. The employee may resign without giving a reason. If the employee resigns, he or she is not typically paid unemployment benefit until after a certain period of time.

A fixed-term contract ends on the date that has been agreed upon. If the employment contract is fixed- term, there must be a good reason for it, such as working as a substitute or seasonal work. This reason must be stated in the employment contract. A fixed-term employment contract may not usually be terminated.

Full-time and Part-time Work

Work may be full-time (kokoaikainen) or part-time (osa-aikainen). Full-time work usually means working five days a week so that the working hours are 37.5−40 hours a week. According to law, regular working hours can be eight hours a day and 40 hours a week maximum.

Full-time work usually involves monthly pay, and the number of working hours and the pay do not vary from month to month. Depending on the occupation, full-time work may be daytime work (päivätyö), evening work (iltatyö), night work (yötyö) or shift work (vuorotyö). In part-time jobs, there are fewer weekly working hours than in full-time jobs. The weekly working hours can also vary. In these cases, employees are usually paid by the hour, so the monthly pay depends on the number of working hours in a given month.

On-demand Work

So-called on-demand work (keikkatyö) has recently become more common in Finland. It means that a person has brief, fixed-term employment relationships of a few days in different places. On-demand work is flexible, because the employee can personally decide when he or she wants to accept work. However, on-demand work does not provide a steady income, because there may not be enough work available all the time.

In some professions, the work is generally on-demand work. For instance, guides, interpreters, musicians and journalists do a lot of on-demand work. The catering business and commerce also provides on-demand work.

All employees must be treated equally regardless of the type of employment relationship. Fixed-term and part-time employees may not have worse terms of employment than permanent or full-time employees. However, some of the benefits of an employment relationship, such as occupational health care or lunch benefits, may be proportioned to the number of working hours.

Finnish Working Culture

The Finnish working culture reflects the characteristics of the individualistic and democratic culture that generally prevails in Finland. This means, among other things, that an individual's personal competence and performance are important, not his or her family background, for instance. Favouring your relatives in recruitment is not accepted in Finland.

The individualistic culture can also be seen in how work and free time are kept separate. Working hours are for working, and free time is the employee’s own time. Work starts and ends at a certain time, and not a lot of time is generally spent with colleagues outside working hours. Celebrations at the workplace are an exception, such as Christmas parties and recreational days, where the aim is to improve the team spirit of the workplace.

Finnish workplaces typically have a low level of hierarchy, meaning that the supervisor hardly stands out from other workers and often does similar tasks as the others. The supervisor often dresses in the same way as everyone else and can be addressed by his or her first name. The supervisor does not hold unquestionable authority over employees, but usually allows them to plan their own work and express ideas. In this way, democracy can be seen in everyday interaction at the workplace.

The supervisor also expects employees to do things on their own initiative and take care of agreed tasks conscientiously. So, the supervisor does not constantly watch over the employees as they work, but trusts them. The differences in wages between supervisors and other employees are fairly small.

Punctuality, diligence, conscientiousness and initiative are valued in Finnish working life. If an employee is often late for work or does not follow the agreed schedules, he or she will be considered unreliable and this may even be a reason to terminate the employment relationship.

During working hours, people try to work hard and do their job as well as possible. Once a task is done, employees will start another task on their own initiative, and when they notice that something needs to be done, they do it. They do not wait until the supervisor tells them to do it. If an employee does not know what to do, he or she can ask the supervisor or a colleague for help.

Cooperation with colleagues at work is important, and teamwork is common at the workplace. Typically, everyone helps each other and does all sorts of tasks flexibly when needed. People trust each other and rely on everyone to take care of the agreed tasks.

Modesty is appreciated in Finland, and people do not usually talk a lot about themselves. What a person does is more important than what a person says. If a person, for instance, says that he or she is hard-working, but does not do the agreed tasks, others will no longer trust him or her.

People in Finland are quite outspoken and say what they think. Finns usually go straight to the point and do not first chit-chat about this and that. Silences and long breaks in a conversation are also part of the Finnish conversational culture. If a person does not talk a lot, this does not mean that he or she is angry or that something is wrong. Negative issues are also openly discussed at work. So, do not be offended if e.g. your supervisor or a colleague says that you have done something poorly. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it is perfectly normal in working life.

Salary and Taxation

There is no general minimum wage in Finland that would apply to all professions. The minimum wage of each field is determined in the collective agreement of the field. The wage may be either a time-related monthly pay (kuukausipalkka) or hourly pay (tuntipalkka) or a performance-related contract rate (urakkapalkka), also known as piecework pay, which is paid for a specific project or job performance.

If an employee works in the evenings, weekends or holidays, he or she is paid bonuses in addition to the normal wages. The amount of the bonuses depends on the profession and the collective agreement in the field. All fields must pay double pay on Sundays. If an employee works overtime in addition to his or her normal working hours, overtime pay must be paid.

The salary is usually paid once a month on the day stated in the employment contract, but there may also be more paydays. Salary may not be paid late and it is always paid to the employee's account. Taxes, i.e. withholding tax (ennakonpidätys), pension contribution (eläkemaksu) and unemployment insurance contribution (työttömyysvakuutusmaksu), are automatically deducted from the salary. The employer must give an employee a salary slip (palkkalaskelma) showing all the taxes and other contributions deducted from the salary.

 

Finland - Civic Orientation Textbook

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