Finnish working culture
Laws and agreements on working life
Finnish working life has many rules that the employee and employer must follow. The legislation and collective agreements determine, for example, minimum wages, working hours, holidays, sick pay and the terms of dismissal.
Sometimes, the employer may ask the employee to work overtime. According to law, the employer must pay supplemented wages for overtime. You can also get compensated as time off work. You have the right to refuse to work overtime.
More information on the rights and obligations of employees in Finland is available on the InfoFinland page Employee’s rights and obligations.
Learn Finnish or Swedish
Even though Finns generally speak English quite well, knowing Finnish or Swedish will be very useful for you nonetheless. You can improve your language skills in courses or on the job. Do not hesitate to speak Finnish or Swedish with your co-workers. Read more about studying languages on the InfoFinland page Finnish and Swedish.
Equality and equal opportunities in working life
According to Finnish law, all kinds of discrimination at workplaces is prohibited. Employers must ensure that there is equality and equal opportunities for men and women at the workplace.
Read more on the InfoFinland page Equality and equal opportunities in working life.
Initiative and responsibility
At Finnish workplaces, supervisors do not monitor their employees’ work continually. Employers ask for their employees’ opinions and these are taken into account in job planning.
Work is usually arranged and agreed on at common meetings and jointly agreed matters are adhered to. A supervisor gives an employee their tasks and expects the employee to decide on the details of the work independently. If an employee does not know how to perform the given task or cannot do it, they ask their co-workers or the supervisor directly for instructions.
Reliability and observing timetables
In Finnish working culture, it is important to adhere to the things that have been agreed upon. When something has been decided together, the employees and employer assume that everyone will do what has been decided.
Observing timetables is also important in Finland. You must arrive at work promptly at the agreed-upon time. When the agreement is 8:00, this means exactly 8:00, not 8:10. Being late is impolite because other people have to wait for the one who is late. If you know that you will be late for work, tell your supervisor about it.
Many workplaces have adopted flexible working hours which means that you can come to work, for example, between 7 and 9 and leave between 15 and 17. If a workplace uses flexible working hours, employees themselves have to make sure that they work for the length of time that has been agreed upon.
Style of communication
Finns usually speak out, and speaking out is not considered impolite in Finland. Saying what you mean is also normal in working life. For example, if you do not have enough time to complete a task, it is best to say so to your supervisor. At meetings, the usual procedure is to get straight to the point after greeting everybody.
In Finnish working culture, the form of address is very informal. At most workplaces, all employees address each other using first names regardless of their position.
The effect of religion on working life
Many Finns are Christians but not very religious. However, many Christian customs are still observed in Finnish culture. In working life, the effect of religion can be seen in many of the holidays. Christian religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are statutory holidays.
Read more on InfoFinland page Finnish holidays.
Religious customs or rituals do not belong at a Finnish workplace. Some places of work have arranged a place for praying, if employees have asked for one. However, most workplaces do not provide for such practices. If an employee wants to take a moment, for example, for prayer in the middle of a working day, this must take place in connection with the agreed-upon breaks. Signs of religions in outward appearance, such as head scarves, are permitted in Finland, but operative rules on working clothes have to be observed. This is due to task-related work safety and hygiene decrees.
You can read more about the values and customers of Finnish society on the page Finnish customs.