Cancellation of employment during the probationary period (as of 1 April)
The changes mean that employment can be cancelled during a probationary period on production-related and financial grounds. In practice, this requires the same type of substantial and permanent decrease in work as for terminations on production-related and financial grounds. Employment can only be cancelled during a probationary period once work has begun.
Cancellation is not permitted if the employer has recruited a new employee for similar duties either before or after the cancellation during the probationary period and the operating conditions have not changed in the corresponding period. “New employee” can also refer to the extension of a fixed-term employment contract. The employer is not entitled to cancel an employment contract if the employee can be reassigned to or trained for different duties (Employment Contracts Act, chapter 7, section 4).
According to our interpretation, there are effectively three substantive differences between a cancellation during a probationary period and an “ordinary” termination on production-related and financial grounds:
- There is no need to observe a notice period
- There is no need to enter into co-operation negotiations for cancellations
- There is no re-employment obligation
Cancellation during a probationary period on production-related and financial grounds also applies to cancellations of apprenticeships based on employment contracts.
Lay-offs of fixed-term employees (as of 1 April)
Employees in fixed-term employment relationships can be laid off in the same way as permanent employees. So far, the prerequisite has been that the fixed-term employee is deputising for an employee on a permanent employment contract and the employer would be entitled to lay off the permanent employee if that person were at work. Now, the fixed-term nature of a contract makes no difference to the right to lay-off. The obligations to offer other work and training (as alternatives to lay-offs) must also be taken into consideration for fixed-term employees.
Lay-offs may also be used for apprenticeships based on fixed-term employment contracts.
If the lay-off of a fixed-term employee begins before the law expires – i.e., no later than 30 June – and continues after the law has expired, the lay-off is permitted for as long as the grounds for the lay-off remain in effect with respect to the specific fixed-term employee.
The employee may still terminate their employment during the lay-off with immediate effect. This also applies to fixed-term employees, even if there is no provision for termination in their employment contracts.
Extension of the re-employment obligation (as of 1 April 2020)
The length of the re-employment obligation in accordance with chapter 6, section 6 of the Employment Contracts Act is nine months if notice of termination was provided before the expiry of the emergency provisions.
The decisive aspect is the date of termination, which, in practice, is the date when the notice of termination was provided.
The re-employment obligation applies if the employee has been dismissed on production-related and financial grounds (Employment Contracts Act, chapter 7, section 3) or in conjunction with a reorganisation procedure (Employment Contracts Act, chapter 7, section 7). The re-employment obligation does not apply to cancellation during a probationary period on production-related and financial grounds.
Example 1: An employee has a six-month notice period. The employer dismisses the employee while the emergency provisions are in force on production-related and financial grounds, and the employment is due to end on 30 November 2020. The nine-month re-employment obligation begins on 1 December 2020 and ends on 31 August 2021.
Co-operation negotiations (as of 30 March in the scope of application of the Collective Agreement for Commercial Transport Workers, and as of 1 April for other employees)
According to the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings, the negotiating period is five days if the negotiations concern lay-offs of employees. It does not matter how many employees are to be laid off or whether the lay-off is for a fixed term or indefinite.
This change, therefore, applies to situations in which the normal negotiation period under the law would be 14 days, as well as situations in which the negotiation period is six weeks.
The provision can be applied to all ongoing negotiations in such a way that the employer can offset the negotiation period that had already elapsed when the change took effect. If the negotiations begin after this change takes effect, the shorter, five-day period can be applied even if the negotiations end after the expiry of the agreement.
Example 2: Negotiations began on Monday 23 March. The potential for a shorter negotiation period took effect on Thursday 26 March. The five-day negotiation period is over on Friday 27 March.
The change does not affect the application of the Act on Co-operation within Undertakings in any other regard.
Notice period for lay-offs (as of 30 March in the scope of application of the Collective Agreement for Commercial Transport Workers)
Lay-offs require a notice period of at least five days (normally 14 days). This applies to fixed-term and indefinite lay-offs.
The provision can be applied to all ongoing lay-offs if the employer issues a new notice of lay-offs.
Example 3: The notice of lay-offs was issued on 16 March with a 14-day notice period. The potential for a shorter notice period took effect on Thursday 26 March. The employer can offset the time that has already elapsed, so the obligation to provide five days’ notice has already been satisfied in any case. In this case, the employer can issue a new notice of lay-off to the employee on 27 March, stating that the first day of lay-off is Saturday 28 March.
If a co-operation procedure is underway while the emergency provisions are in force – in other words, if the negotiation proposal is issued no later than 30 June – the shorter periods can be applied, even though the co-operation procedure extends beyond the expiry of the agreement.
The shorter notice period for lay-offs can be applied if the notice of lay-offs is issued while the emergency provisions are in force – no later than 30 June – even though the notice period for lay-offs extends beyond the expiry of the emergency provisions.
The Finnish Commerce Federation will provide separate guidance if the application of the emergency provisions ends earlier than expected.