Regular working hours
The Working Hours Act regulates working hours and how they are defined. In general, the Working Hours Act applies to all work done in employment and the civil service. Working hours can also be agreed for specific sectors in collective bargaining agreements or at the company level, through working time arrangements.
The Working Hours Act is not limited to any specific region: it applies to all work done in Finland. Collective bargaining agreements and possible contractual terms on working hours in local bargaining agreements may also determine regular working hours.
“Working hours” means all the time spent on work as well as the time when the employee is obliged to be at work at the employer’s disposal. Daily rest time (meal breaks) are not consid-ered as working hours when the employee has the option of leaving the workplace. Nor is travel time to work considered working hours unless it is simultaneously considered perfor-mance of work.
The Working Hours Act does not apply to certain categories of work set out in Section 2 of the Act: management of a company, housework, work provided for in other legislation or work specifically mentioned in Section 2 of the Act.
Working Hours Act
The Working Hours Act establishes such matters as maximum daily and weekly working hours, overtime and resulting compensation, Sunday work regulations, rest time, and the employer’s working time recording obligations
Read more: Working Hours Act (Finlex)
Advice for members by phone on legal questions
The general provision of the Working Hours Act is that daily working time is no more than 8 hours a day. However, both a collective bargaining agreement and an agreement between the employer and employee can be used, on certain terms, to make an exception to this provision of the Working Hours Act. If the collective bargaining agreement binding the company contains a provision on regular daily working hours, it must be followed in the first instance.
If there is no generally binding collective bargaining agreement in the sector, and the employer is not a member of an employer federation and thus subject to a normally binding agreement, an exception can be made to daily regular working hours on the direct basis of the Working Hours Act. Under this provision, the employer and employee can agree separately to lengthen daily working time by one hour on the condition that weekly working time does not exceed 48 hours. In addition, regular working time must average out at 40 hours a week over a four-month period.
The general provision of the Working Hours Act is that weekly working time is no more than 40 hours a week. However, the general rule allows for arranging an average weekly working time; in this case, the weekly working time must average out at 40 hours a week over a period of no more than 52 weeks.
However, the statutory flexibility to weekly working time does not allow an exception to the 8 hours of daily working time. This means that based on the law alone, weekly working time can only be set as an average by changing the number of workdays, not their duration.
The collective bargaining agreement can be used to make an exception to the main 40-hour rule, for example by reducing the regular weekly working hours, in which case the terms of the applicable collective bargaining agreement are followed.
Under the Working Hours Act, periodical working hours can only be used in sectors specifically defined by Section 7 of the Act. There is no limit to regular daily or weekly working hours in periodical working hours. However, periodical working hours must by law be arranged so there is no more than 120 working hours during a three-week period or 80 hours during a two-week period. A collective bargaining agreement may also contain provisions on periodical working hours.
A generally binding collective bargaining agreement can be used to make an exception to the regular daily or weekly working hours under the Working Hours Act. A collective bargaining agreement may be used to agree on average regular working hours as long as the working hours average out at 40 hours over a period of 52 weeks. The provisions of the Working Hours Act on rest times and weekly time off limit the timing and duration of work shifts, however.
Regular working hours under the Working Hours Act
Additional work means work in addition to the working hours in the employment contract but below the maximum regular working hours laid down in the Working Hours Act (8 hours a day and 40 hours a week). Additional work can only be done with the employee’s consent, unless the employment contract provides for additional work. An employee is entitled to refuse additional work on days marked as free time on the roster if he or she has a justifiable personal reason.
Normal pay for working time is paid for additional work. Collective bargaining agreements may contain provisions on pay for additional work.
Overtime is work which exceeds the regular working time of 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week in the Working Hours Act. Overtime requires the employer’s initiative, and it can only be done using the express consent given by the employee each time. If an average number of working hours is agreed, overtime is work which is done in addition to the work in the roster.
The maximum durations in the Working Hours Act limit the assignment of overtime. An employee’s working time, including overtime, cannot exceed an average of 48 hours a week over a period of four months.
Under the Working Hours Act, daily overtime must be compensated with 1.5 times pay for the first two hours and double pay for each following hour. The employer and employee can agree on full or partial compensation of overtime as proportional time off: for example, one hour of overtime at 1.5 times pay can be exchanged for 1.5 hours of paid time off.
In addition, you should always check the provisions of your collective bargaining agreement on overtime and overtime pay.
Sunday work, under the Working Hours Act, is work done on a Sunday or other church holiday. Church holidays are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Midsummer Day and All Saints’ Day.
Sunday work can be done with an employee’s consent when the nature of the work means it is regularly done on Sundays and holidays, or when it is agreed on in the employment contract.
Under the Working Hours Act, Sunday work must be compensated with double pay. The Sunday increase does not affect the size of any remuneration paid to the employee for additional work, overtime or emergency work. These types of remuneration are calculated on the basis of the employee’s basic salary. Your collective bargaining agreement may contain provisions on Sunday work.
Under the Working Hours Act, an employee has the right to an hour-long break if the working day is at least six hours long. The break cannot be timed for the very start or very end of the working day. However, the employer and employee can agree on a shorter break, but no shorter than half an hour. If the working hours exceed 10 hours a day, the employee has, if he or she wishes, the right to a break of no more than half an hour after eight hours’ work.
A collective bargaining agreement can make an exception to the provisions on daily rest time. A collective bargaining agreement may contain clauses specifically about rest times or they may be agreed at the company level either in full or in part. In addition, a collective bargaining agreement may contain clauses about coffee and recreation break. If the employer is not a member of an employers’ federation, but instead adheres to a collective bargaining agreement on the generally binding principle, he or she may not use clauses on break times which require company-level agreement.
If the employee may freely leave the workplace during a break, the break is not considered working time. In other cases, the break must be given as working time.
Under the Working Hours Act, the general rule is that an employee is entitled to at least 11 hours of uninterrupted rest time during the 24 hours following the start of each shift. An employee doing periodical work must be given at least nine hours of uninterrupted rest time.
The employer and staff representatives can, with employee consent, agree on reduced daily rest. However, it must be no shorter than seven hours. In addition, Section 25 of the Working Hours Act lists the situations in which exceptions from daily rest time and an exceptionally short five-hour rest time is permitted.
The employee has the right to at least 35 hours of uninterrupted leisure time once a week. This must generally fall on a Sunday. Any uninterrupted 35-hour period on the roster meets this requirement.
Weekly leisure time can also be arranged for an average of 35 hours over 14 days so that there is at least 24 hours of leisure time a week.
In uninterrupted shift work, weekly leisure time can be arranged over a 12-week period so that it is an average of 24 hours a time. Uninterrupted shift work means a working time arrangement in which the shifts change regularly, and work is done every day of the week.
If the employee’s weekly working time is no more than 3 hours, the employee may be given a continuous 24 hours of leisure time, instead of 35, once every seven days.
If the employee works during his or her weekly leisure time, he or she must be compensated for the time spent on work by reducing his or her regular working time respectively. Alternatively, with the employee’s consent, the compensation for lack of weekly leisure time can be paid as money by the hour.
The collective bargaining agreement may contain clauses on weekly leisure time. An employer must always check whether making an exception requires agreement at the company level. As a general rule, an employer that is not a member of an employers’ federation cannot invoke exceptions that require company-level agreement.
Working hours documents
If the regular working time agreed is an average, the employer is obligated to create a working time adjustment system. The system must be created at least for the statutory period during which the regular working hours must average out. The system must show the regular working time in each week.
An employer must create a roster which displays each employee’s work and leisure times in more detail than the adjustment system.
The working time adjustment system and roster can be contained in the same document. You should try to make the roster for the same period as the working time adjustment system, unless it is extremely difficult due to the irregularity of the work, for example. However, the roster must be created as far ahead as possible.
The roster must display the start and end of regular working time, as well as daily rest time. The roster must be shown to employees as early as possible, but no later than a week before the start date. Once employees have been shown the roster, it can generally only be changed by employee consent. To ensure operations in the workplace, however, the employer may change the roster because of a pressing reason related to work organization, if the employer did not know about it when creating the roster.
In work where the timing of regular working hours does not vary, or in which floating or flexible working time is used, the roster can be made valid until further notice. An agreement on floating or flexible working time replaces a roster when it shows the principles applied to the timing of working hours.
Collective bargaining agreements may include clauses on the creation of rosters.