Wednesday. 26.06.2019
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Around 100,000 employees work on zero-hour contracts in Finland

Most of them work in wholesale and retail trade, health and social services, accommodation and food services and the majority (62%) are employed based on a contract valid until further notice. Close to one third of these persons did hardly know at all or only a few days in advance the timing of their upcoming working hours.

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk.
Photo by Michal Jarmoluk.
Around 100,000 employees work on zero-hour contracts in Finland

On average, some 106,000 employees worked on zero-hour contracts in 2018. This is around five per cent of all employees aged 15 to 74, according to data collected by Statistics Finland from the Labour Force Survey 2018.

In Finland, a zero-hour contract refers to an employment contract where the minimum working hours promised is zero. This means the employee has not guaranteed work, but still must be available in case he is called to cover, for instance, a sick leave or a punctual increase of activity at the workplace.

Of employees aged 15 to 74, approximately 106,000 reported that they worked on zero-hour contracts. The prevalence of zero-hour contracts was last surveyed in 2014. Then, there were 89,000 employees aged 15 to 74 working on zero-hour contracts.

Similarly, around 99,000 employees aged 15 to 64 worked on zero-hour contracts in 2018 and some 83,000 in 2014. It is, therefore, a labour model that is on the rise.

Mostly young people

The zero-hour contract is a type of labour relationship that affects men as well as women. According to Statistics Finland, about half of the employees with zero-hour contracts were women and about half were men.

Employees working on zero-hour contracts were mostly young people: good one-third (37%) were aged under 25 and 66% were aged under 34.

Statistics Finland says that around 40% of persons who worked on zero-hour contracts had wanted this type of a flexible contract. Almost the same share were persons who reported that the work in question was only available on a zero-hour contract and 14% felt that no other work had been available. Slightly more men (44 %) than women (41 %) had wanted this type of contract.

zero-hours-contract

Source: Statistics Finland.

There were most persons for whom the zero-hour contract was a welcome option in the oldest and youngest age groups. There were least such persons in the middle age groups, aged 35 to 54.

A part-time work as a general rule

Seventy-seven per cent of employees aged 15 to 74 working on zero-hour contracts reported that they worked part-time in 2018. Twenty-three per cent worked full-time.

Usual weekly working hours of all persons working on zero-hour contracts were on average 22 hours per week. The average weekly working hours of those working part-time were 17 hours per week and for full-time employees they were 37 hours per week.

A person working on a zero-hour contract can have either a fixed-term contract or a contract valid until further notice. The majority (62%) were employed based on an employment contract valid until further notice. Correspondingly, 38% had fixed-term contracts. Data concerning the employment relationship are based on the person’s own reporting.

The main fields of work

In absolute numbers, most employees working on zero-hour contracts were found in wholesale and retail trade (17,000), health and social services (15,000) and accommodation and food services (11,000).

Relative to the number of wage and salary earners in the industry, zero-hour contracts were most common in accommodation and food services. Fifteen per cent of employees in this industry worked on zero-hour contracts.

The most common professions for persons working on zero-hour contracts were sales persons, personal and care workers, labourers in mining, construction, manufacturing and transport, and service workers, says Statistics Finland.

Hard to know in advance if there will be work

Another feature of this type of contract is uncertainty. The worker can hardly know in advance if the employer will call him. And when it does, it is usually with very little time in advance.

The survey shows that close on one-third (30%) of the persons working on zero-hour contracts did hardly know at all or only a few days in advance the timing of their upcoming working hours.

The share was almost the same for those who knew the timing of their working hours at most for a week or two ahead. About 40 per cent knew the timing of their working hours for a month or more ahead. Slightly more men knew the timing of their working hours for a longer time in advance than women.

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