Coronavirus: employers can revoke working hours and annual vacations
On 17 March 2020, the Government issued a decree under the Emergency Powers Act to allow employers to respond to personnel shortage caused by the virus epidemic in critical functions of society. The arrangements concern working hours and annual holidays as well as notice periods in case of employee resignation.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Decree may be applied to personnel working in health care and social services, rescue services, emergency response centres and police services. However, extension of the notice period does not apply to employees of police services.
If necessary, the employer is allowed to suspend or postpone the employee’s leave. In addition, the employer could deviate from the obligation to obtain the employee’s consent to work overtime, and from the provisions on rest periods.
The employer could also extend the notice period that employees are required to comply with to four months if a shortage of labour due to the virus outbreak is imminent. If the employer resorted to these derogations, they would be required to pay special attention to employee health and safety. The derogations are intended to be temporary, the Finnish Government says.
Labour shortage in critical services
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment explained that the spread of the virus epidemic means a growing number of people will get sick and need health care services, which may result in a labour shortage.
If employees working in health care services get sick, this will further aggravate labour shortage. Labour shortage could significantly interfere with the functioning of critical services in society.
The decree entered into force on 18 March 2020. It is based on the decree concerning the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act which the Government submitted to Parliament on 17 March 2020.