The negotiations for national directives for adjusted duties have come to an end. Although the negotiations did not result in provisions for the collective agreement, agreements on adjusted duties can still be made on a per company basis.

As part of the employment and growth agreement concluded last autumn, negotiations in the field of commerce were started with the objective of achieving national rules for adjusted duties. A new provision for adjusted duties was to be included in the collective agreement. However, no consensus about the rules could be reached within the set timeframe. The current legislation does not refer to the concept of adjusted duties, but many companies have started to apply their own models.

The Finnish Commerce Federation could not accept the labour organisation’s request for an extended definition of adjusted duties because that would have interfered with the employer’s managerial prerogative (the right to decide what work is to be carried out and how it will be carried out).

‘We want to act responsibly and reduce the number of sickness absences and disability pensions and prolong working careers. We believe that the rules agreed with the Service Union United (PAM) on adjusted duties would have gradually gained a wider foothold. However, we cannot consent to a reduction of the employer’s managerial prerogative,’ says Anna Lavikkala, Labour Market Director at the Finnish Commerce Federation.

The goal was to agree on common rules for adjusted duties. Such rules would be applied to enable persons on sickness leave to return to work to carry out duties (other than their normal work) according to their current ability. In practice this would have meant that, for instance, a warehouse worker with an injured foot could temporarily work as a cashier. The employer, employee and a doctor would have decided upon suitable adjusted duties together. The motivation behind this is to reduce the number of sickness absence days and to expedite return to work.

Although the negotiations did not result in provisions for the collective agreement, the employer and employee may still agree on adjusted duties on a per company basis. In addition, an employee on sick leave can be called upon to perform his normal duties, adjusted according to his or her ability, just like before. For example, a salesperson suffering from back problems may return to his or her normal work on the condition that he or she is not expected to lift anything heavy. The clinicians in the occupational health care are in the best position to assess a person’s remaining ability and the adjustments needed. The involvement of occupational health care is also important from the point of view of the employer’s responsibility for occupational safety.

‘The Finnish Commerce Federation was genuinely willing to agree on the adjustment rules and thus introduce better ability management in the commercial sector. However, companies may still apply their own models and agree with their employees on adjustments required. We at the Finnish Commerce Federation support our member companies in creating such models. We believe that such arrangements for reducing sickness absences are in all parties’ interests,’ Lavikkala concludes.

For further information, please contact:

Anna Lavikkala, Labour Market Director, The Finnish Commerce Federation, anna.lavikkala(at), tel. +358 (0)9 1728 5136, +358 400 406 088

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 persons in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry politics and labour market lobbying.