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Suomalainen työelämä

Finnish working life

In Finland, employees’ rights are protected by labour laws and working hours are reasonable. Work is usually done independently and there is not much hierarchy. This page describes Finnish working culture and customs.

According to Finnish law, everyone must be treated equally and without discrimination. Wellbeing is an important part of working life. In Finland, it is easy to maintain a work-life balance.

Finnish working culture is low on hierarchy. Employees can express their views regardless of their age and position. Everyday life at the workplace may vary from workplace to workplace.

The employer must take care of occupational safety and comply with law, which regulates things like working hours and annual holidays. According to law, regular working hours may not exceed 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week, so people have time for hobbies and leisure activities after work. Balancing family life and work is easier in Finland than in many other countries.

Read more about family leave and flexibilities on the InfoFinland pages Holidays and leaves and Balancing family life and work.

Education and language skills

In Finland, most jobs require specific qualifications. In international comparison, people in Finland are highly educated. Often, the workplace also requires a certain level of language skills.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Language skills and qualification requirements.

Competence and self-improvement

Education and self-improvement are appreciated in Finland. Many employers also encourage employees to attend courses or short training sessions during their employment. This allows employees to gain more skills. Such training includes Finnish language courses, IT courses or other training that employees need for their work. Employers often organise such training for their staff.

You can also study in your free time at many different educational institutions, such as the open university, summer university or adult education centres. Read more on the InfoFinland page Studying as a hobby.

Laws and agreements on working life

Finnish working life has many rules that employees and employers must follow. Laws and collective agreements cover requirements for working hours, minimum wage, sick pay, holidays, dismissals and other conditions. The law has specific provisions on how employers must take care of occupational safety and health.

You can find more information on the rights and obligations of employees in Finland on the InfoFinland page During employment.

Equality and equal opportunities in working life

According to Finnish law, all kinds of discrimination at workplaces are prohibited. Nobody may be discriminated against based on age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family circumstances, health, disability, sexual orientation or other reason related to the employee’s person. Women work as often as men and are given equal treatment at work.

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.

Finnish working culture

In Finland, employees work fairly independently. Supervisors do not constantly monitor employees’ work. It is extremely important to be dependable, that is, do the tasks that have been agreed on. You can always ask a co-worker or the supervisor for instructions or help in different situations.

Finnish working life values punctuality. Each employee is expected to arrive for work on time and follow schedules. Conscientiousness and diligence are also important. For example, if you do not have enough time to complete a task, it is best to tell your supervisor. Always arrive at work early enough that you are ready to start work at the beginning of your working hours. This means that you have, for example, already changed into your work uniform by then. However, if you know you will be late, notify your workplace. 

The most important goal in Finnish workplaces is to complete the work efficiently. Many Finns do not talk much about their private life at work. Generally, Finns appreciate frankness and get straight to the point. However, it is good to express your thoughts in a way that is also considerate of the opinions of others. At meetings, it is normal to get straight to the point after greetings.

Link redirects to another websiteTekniikan akateemiset TEK

Finnish working culture

Internal communication at the workplace

Usually, information about upcoming events and changes at the workplace is given at meetings. Attending meetings often gives you a chance to influence matters, suggest changes and develop your work. In Finnish working culture, colleagues usually value initiative.

Every workplace also has other appointed channels of internal communication. These channels are often digital. Follow the communications at your workplace.

Gifts are usually not given at the workplace. However, on special days (milestone birthdays, marriage, retirement) co-workers or employers usually give a small present or flowers to the person whose special day it is.

Working hours and holidays

A normal working day usually lasts eight hours. An employee can also agree with their employer on different working hours. Employees usually do not work a lot of overtime in Finland. People work the hours agreed on in their employment contract.

In Finland, the holiday season begins at the beginning of May. The number of days of annual holidays an employee is entitled to depends on when the contract of employment started and how many years the employee has worked there. On average, employees accrue from 2 to 2.5 days of annual holidays for each month worked. Annual holidays are paid, and you will also receive a holiday bonus period before or after the holiday. In addition to paid holidays, you can apply for unpaid leave. In Finland, holidays are long compared to many other countries. Most employers also value work-life balance and want employees to take their holidays regularly. In Finland, the common belief is that employees do their job better if they get some rest from time to time.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Holidays and leaves.

Breaks and rest periods

Employment contracts often specify the length and timing of breaks. Usually, a working day includes a lunch break and a coffee break or two. It is a good idea to check the length of the breaks with your supervisor.

The lunch break is a break during a working day when you can eat and rest. The length of a lunch break varies according to workplace. If your shift lasts at least 6 hours, you are entitled to a lunch break of at least 30 minutes. A working day of less than 6 hours usually does not include a meal break. Usually, meal breaks are not working time, so no salary is paid during them. If you are allowed to leave the workplace during the break, the break does not count as working time.

Eating during breaks is arranged in different ways at different workplaces: some have their own canteen, while at other workplaces employees bring a packed lunch from home. At some workplaces, employees can buy affordable lunch vouchers that they can use to buy lunch at restaurants or shops close to the workplace. People do not usually work during lunch.

According to law, employees must get at least 11 hours of free time between shifts. Once a week, they must get at least 35 consecutive hours off work without interruption.

Taking care of personal business during a working day

You cannot take care of personal business during working hours; deal with them outside working hours. The number of hours that you must work is specified in the employment contract. During a break, you can make, for example, important personal calls. You can also ask for unpaid leave if a situation requires a longer absence from work.

If you cannot, for example, get a doctor’s appointment outside working hours, negotiate with your supervisor about your absence and agree on how you will make up for the time spent going to see the doctor.

Link redirects to another websiteThe Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK

Breaks and rest periods

Well-being at work and work-related recreation

Many workplaces organise recreational days and celebrations that give employees a refreshing change of pace and increase their job satisfaction. An employer may also offer employees various opportunities for recreational activities alongside work.

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 public holidays.

At some workplaces, such as hospitals, these public holidays are also working days. Employees are paid a higher salary for working on public holidays. Check your collective agreement for the compensation for working on public holidays.

Read more about public holidays on the InfoFinland page Finnish public holidays.

Religious customs or rituals do not belong at Finnish workplaces. 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 during scheduled breaks. Signs of religions in outward appearance, such as headscarves, are permitted in Finland, but everyone must follow the workplace dress code. This is due to regulations related to occupational safety and hygiene. Work tasks must be completed regardless of religion.

You can read more about the values and customs of Finnish society on the page Finnish customs.