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Enforcement of foreign employees in the commercial sector: minimum wages unknown to many

Enforcement of foreign employees in the commercial sector: minimum wages unknown to many

8.3.2016 – Southern Finland

Last year the use of foreign labour in the commercial sector was enforced. In the metropolitan region and Southern Carelia the Occupational Safety and Health inspectors of the Regional State Administrative Agency performed a total of 54 inspections in shops with mainly foreign employees. The shops were mostly small grocery shops and clothes shops.

In addition to the Aliens Act the inspectors also enforced the compliance with the Occupational Health Care Act and the universally applicable collective labour agreement. Besides enforcement the aim of the inspections was to increase the knowledge of both employers and employees with the provisions on foreign labour, the collective labour agreement for the commercial sector and occupational health care. The inspected workplaces were generally not unionized.

Wages under minimum in part of the workplaces

Twenty-seven per cent of the inspected workplaces did not comply fully with the collective agreement. The most common deficiency was that the wages of the employees did not correspond with the minimum wages of 11,03 euros/h outlined in the collective agreement for the commercial sector. The employers were given written advice in order for them to rectify the situation.

”Most employers had an immigrant background and it seemed that many of them were not familiar with the Finnish labour legislation. Often the employees themselves did not know what they should be paid", says Kati Nikulainen, Occupational Safety and Health inspector at the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.

Most of the employees had a right to work

Most of the employees the inspectors met on the inspectors had a right to work in Finland. However, only 33 per cent of the employers kept the information on which grounds the foreign employees´ right to work were based at the workplace. Under the Aliens Act the employer must keep the information on which the grounds for the foreign employees´ right to work are available at the workplace and, if necessary, show it to the authorities. In order to ensure the right to work the employer shall ask the employees for the passport or residence permit and copy this document. 

Deficient occupational health care and work schedules

As much as 39 per cent of the inspected workplaces did not have any organized statutory occupational health care at all. This is considerably more than the average in the commercial sector, 9 per cent of all the workplaces in the commercial sector inspected last year did not have an organized occupational health care. 

Also the work schedules were inadequately drawn up. Some workplaces lacked work schedules completely while others had not given the work schedules to the employees at least two weeks before the working week began, as stated in the collective labour agreement.

The enforcement of the use of foreign labour will continue in the commercial sector in 2016.

More information:
Occupational Safety and Health Inspector Kati Nikulainen, phone 0295 016 478
Occupational Safety and Health Division, Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health is the regional occupational safety and health authority. The OSH Division enforces the compliance with the working life legislation of the employers and that work is carried out as healthy and safely as possible.

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