Labour Legis­lation and Ground Rules of Working

What are the concepts, rules and regula­tions, and laws involved in working? The legis­lation, agree­ments and workplaces shape working practices. The most important labour laws concern employment contracts, collective agree­ments, working condi­tions, working hours, annual leaves, occupa­tional health and safety, equality, and co-operation in companies.

People in work commu­nities are team players and, as in any team sport, common rules are needed for the team to play effec­tively towards a common goal. Shared under­standing of respon­si­bil­ities and oblig­a­tions also contribute to the conti­nuity of a good employment relationship.

Generic compe­tence for profes­sional practice and cooper­ation in work commu­nities, also known as work community skills, concern everyone, regardless of their status in the work community, gender, or age. Everyone is respon­sible for the good atmos­phere in the workplace. Work community skills mean, for example, that everyone takes respon­si­bility for their own duties and for matters agreed on together. In addition, they include good manners that everyone should master as well as taking other people into consid­er­ation. Greeting, thanking, apolo­gising, and forgiving are extremely important skills and habits in a work community. Furthermore, giving and receiving feedback in a constructive way is part of inter­action skills needed in a workplace.

Labour law and collective agreement (TES)

The operating condi­tions of both the employer and the employee are defined by labour legis­lation and the collective agreement of each field. Labour organ­i­sa­tions and employers’ organ­i­sa­tions conclude a collective agreement called TES in Finnish. It is a convention on working condi­tions in the field. The collective agreement to be followed should be stated in the employment contract.

Here are some examples of matters covered by collective agreements:

  • the minimum wage in the field
  • compen­sation for overtime (if different from the working hours legislation)
  • general wage increases in the field
  • social benefits the employee is entitled to have

If you wish to have some advice on issues regarding labour law, you can contact e.g. the shop steward of your workplace. If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help from the union free of charge. You can also search for infor­mation online, e.g. on the website of Finlex ( If you are unsure of the collective agreement applied in your field or the salary you are entitled to, check the websites of occupa­tional safety and health author­ities or trade unions.

Task 1:

Find the collective agreement of your field online.
Read about the wage, holidays, day offs etc.
Find out about the following:

  • What are the largest labour organ­i­sa­tions and employers’ organ­i­sa­tions in Finland?
  • By whom is the collective agreement concluded?
  • What is the signif­i­cance of collective agreement for the employer and for the employee?
  • Which trade union does the majority of profes­sionals in your field belong to?
  • Who is the concil­iator general in Finland? What is their aim?
  • Which matters have trade unions recently discussed? You can search for infor­mation in news, media or, for example, websites of organisations.

Employment contract

Make sure that you and your employer sign an employment contract at the start of a new employment relationship. This is also important for summer jobs and other short-term employment relation­ships. The employment contract defines the principles and regula­tions related to the employment relationship, which both parties must follow in the workplace and when performing duties at work. You should read the contract carefully before signing it, since the contract is binding on both parties after it has been signed.


Both the employer and the employee must follow the rules and regula­tions of the workplace and the general work-related policies so that it is fluent and safe for everyone to work.

It is essential that the rules and regula­tions are clear and under­standable for everyone and that everyone is committed to them. It might take some time to learn the policies, which is why the mentor (manager, super­visor, older employee, entire work community, or other person in charge of orien­tation) should set an example for the new employee, offer help and guidance, and be available to answer the mentee’s questions after the actual orientation.

The superior has the right and respon­si­bility to manage the work and employees’ perfor­mance at work. The employer is respon­sible for ensuring that the work does not endanger the health or safety of the employee. Job orien­tation plays an important role in complying with this responsibility.

The orien­tation must cover at least the following:

  • how to avoid dangers and harms
  • duties at work
  • circum­stances at the workplace
  • working methods and tools
  • proper use of the equipment
  • safety at work

Occupa­tional safety and health

The employer is respon­sible for ensuring that the work does not endanger the health or safety of the employee.

The concept well-being at work refers to the feeling and experience you have of your workplace. It involves the feeling that the work is safe and healthy, you are appre­ciated for your perfor­mance at work, good management, and how different types of situa­tions at work are handled in a profes­sional way.

Occupa­tional safety is governed by the Occupa­tional Safety and Health Act, which aims to improve the working environment and working condi­tions in order to ensure and maintain employees’ ability to work. The purpose of the act is also to prevent accidents at work, occupa­tional diseases and other work-related harms and dangers to the mental and physical health of employees.

Source: Käännös. Sujuvat työnhaku­markkinat –hanke (Flexible Job Seeking project). Creative Commons Nimeä-EiKau­pallinen-JaaSamoin 4.0 Kansain­vä­linen -lisenssillä.