Working conditions

The workplace the Act on Working Environment, Health and Safety in Workplaces, No. 46/1980, several regulations, and provisions in collective wage agreements applies when it comes to conditions in the workplace. Employers are obliged to ensure that work is executed according to regulations and that safety measures are always followed. Employees have an obligation to follow the health and safety rules that apply at the workplace. At the workplace there shall be a safety representative or a safety committee that entrusts the health and safety issues at the workplace. Safety representatives have the same statues as other union reps, that is they cannot be fired except with a valid explanation and then only with a written explanation and justification.

Rules on safety differ from workplace to workplace. At workplaces where employees handle toxic chemicals, work with electricity or work at great heights, health hazards must be considered. At other workplaces it might be more important to protect the employees from harassment from clients or customers. It all depends on the circumstances.

Further information on risk assessment and on working hours, rest time and more can be found below.

Working conditions

  • Working time and violation on rest time

    Rules on working hours

    Working hours are legally mandated and part of the collective wage agreements. The working week is 40 hours, but it was negotiated for a shorter work week, in the collective wage agreements signed in 2020. Thus, it was permitted to shorten the work week to 36 hours by 1st January 2021 for daytime workers and for shift workers by 1st May. It is even permitted to shorten the work week by more than four hours for shift workers.

    Rules on rest time

    Rules on rest time are legally mandated and part of the collective wage agreements. The rules are minimum rules set with safety, security, and health of the employees in mind. 

    Minimum daily rest

    During every 24 hour period, counting from the beginning of the working day, workers shall receive at least 11 hours’ continuous rest. When possible, the daily rest period shall be between 23:00 and 06:00.

    Exceptions from daily rest

    In special cases, when necessary, it is allowed to reduce the rest period down to 8 hours when regular shift changes take place. This may also be used if a disruption of normal activities occurs due to external causes. This is done to prevent substantial loss or damage or to keep up necessary health care and security services. When these exceptions apply, a rest period of 11 hours shall be granted immediately following the work, on full wages.

    A weekly day off

    In each seven-day period, the employee shall receive at least one weekly holiday combined with their daily rest time. The aim is to start the workweek on a Monday, so the employee gets at least 35 hours rest once a week.

    Time of in lieu - TOIL

    As stated, the rules on rest time are minimum rules and apply unless exceptions mentioned above apply. When an exception is made the employee has the right to time off from work as compensation. If an employer request for an employee to come to work before the minimum 11 hours rest has passed the employee is entitled time off, 1,5 hours (for daytime work) granted for every hour the rest is reduced by. These rights are not limited to whole hours. The employee shall not return to work before he/she has had 11 hours of rest, unless specifically asked to do so.

  • Risk assessment and health care

    Bullying, sexual and gender-based harassment

    Sexual and gender-based harassment can have varied consequenses and can have serious consequences for individuals, workplaces, and society in general. Individuals can for example experience worse health, more stress, depression, humiliation, irritability, and loss of income. It can increase staff turnover, employee absence and reduce productivity. All this damages the reputation of the workplace which can be hard to restore. For the society as a whole this can lead to inequality, gender pay gap and greater expenses.

    The obligations of employers

    Employers can be held accountable and have clear duties under the terms of the regulation on measures against victimisation, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence in workplaces as stated in the regulation No. 1009/2015. The employer shall make a written plan on health and safety in the workplace and a risk assessment based on health and safety laws. Employers shall analyse the risk factors of bullying, sexual and gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace. Such situations include interactions between employees and managers, other employees, or clients.

    A risk assessment shall include all possible tools and information to prevent bullying and harassment and to consider the mental and social impacts on the workplace during such a process.

    It is essential that all employees and management are kept informed about the employer’s policy and what operations are implemented on cases of bullying and violence.

    The employer shall identify risk factors of bullying, sexual and gender-based harassment and violence at the workplace

    If incidents occur

    If a complaint or a tip-off regarding victimisation, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence is raised, the employer must respond to it as soon as possible. The employer shall assess the situation in collaboration with the safety representative and seek external help when needed.

    The employer shall also ensure that, the employees involved are given the opportunity to express their points of view and that, the parties to the case are interviewed separately.

    If the assessment of the situation reveals a reasonable suspicion that victimisation, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence is occurring, or has occurred,the employer shall take measures in accordance with the written schedule on safety and health in the workplace.

    The duties of employees

    Employees must also follow the laws and regulations on victimisation, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence. They may not victimise one or more employees or the management. An employee who fells that they have experienced victimisation, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment or violence in the workplace, or that they have a reasonable suspicion, or knowledge, of such conduct must inform the employer or the workplace’s safety representatives of this in accordance with the written safety plan of the workplace.

    Booklet on sexual and gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace

    A booklet on sexual and gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace

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