General information on topic

The employee himself/herself must request a certificate of employment.

The employer is required to issue a certificate of employment on request within 10 years of the termination of the employment relationship. This means that the employer must retain information on the duration of employment relationships and employees’ job duties for at least ten years after the end of those employment relationships.

A certificate of employment must be issued on request even if requested later than that, unless to do so would be unreasonably difficult for the employer. A certificate of employment must be issued without undue delay.

The employee may request a brief or extended certificate of employment.

Contents of a brief certificate of employment:

  • total duration of the employment relationship, and
  • job duties.

Contents of an extended certificate of employment:

  • total duration of the employment relationship,
  • job duties,
  • reason for termination of the employment relationship, and
  • testimonial (evaluation of the employee’s occupational skills and conduct).

The employee may choose whether to include both the reason for termination and the testimonial or only one of them on the extended certificate of employment.

A certificate of employment with a testimonial must be requested within five years of the end of the employment relationship.

 

Instructions for employee

Tell your employer what you want the certificate of employment to contain.

If you wish to receive a certificate of employment when your employment relationship ends, you must request one from your employer. Your employer is not required to issue you a certificate of employment at his own initiative.

State clearly to your employer whether you want the certificate to indicate only the duration of the employment relationship and your job duties or also the reason for termination of the employment relationship and a testimonial (evaluation of your occupational skills and conduct). You may also request that the certificate include only one or the other of the latter (reason for termination and testimonial).

When an unemployed jobseeker registers at the employment and economic development office (TE Services), the officials usually want to know the reason for termination of employment and who terminated it before assessing the jobseeker’s entitlement to unemployment benefit.

If you have requested and received a brief certificate of employment from your employer, you may request a new certificate of employment from him with the addition of the reason for termination or a testimonial or both, within five years.

If you have received a certificate of employment according to your request including a testimonial and you are unsatisfied with the evaluation, you are not entitled to receive a new certificate without the testimonial.

However, if the certificate of employment contains incorrect or unlawful information (e.g. concerning sickness absences or family leave), or if it includes the reason for termination of employment or a testimonial even though you did not request either of these, the employer is required to issue a new certificate of employment with these errors corrected.

The request for a certificate of employment may be made verbally. You may also submit the request in writing, e.g. by e-mail, so that you can verify if necessary that you have requested a certificate of employment. For submitting a written request, you can use the form: Document request from employer (doc, in Finnish).

If your employer will not issue you a certificate of employment despite your request, you may contact the occupational safety and health authorities in your region.

 

Instructions for employer

The employer is required to issue a certificate of employment.

The certificate must be issued in brief or extended form, depending on the employee’s request. The certificate must be issued without undue delay; it is recommended that it be delivered within a week of the employee making the request.

The total duration of the employment relationship and the employee’s job duties must always be included in a brief certificate of employment. Absences (e.g. family leave and sickness absences) must not be itemised under the duration of the employment relationship.

The job duties performed by the employee in the course of the employment relationship must always be included on the certificate. These job duties may be described as they are referred to in the employment contract. If the employee has performed job duties other than those agreed in the employment contract to a significant extent, these must also be entered in the certificate of employment.

The employee may be issued, on request, an interim certificate of employment while the employment relationship is in force; there is no provision concerning this in the Employment Contracts Act, but it is established practice. The employer may even be obliged to issue an interim certificate of employment for instance when an employee undergoes training, because the employer must aim to promote the employee’s career development opportunities.

Reason for termination and testimonial only at the employee’s request

The employer may not enter the reason for termination of the employment relationship or an evaluation of the employee’s occupational skills and conduct on the certificate of employment at his own initiative. Before writing the certificate of employment, the employer should ask the employee what he/she wishes to be entered on the certificate.

The reason for termination of the employment relationship may be given as one of the following if the employee requests it to be included:

  • expiry of the fixed term,
  • the employee resigned,
  • financial and production grounds,
  • personal reasons due to the employee,
  • cancellation of the employment contract at the initiative of the employer or the employee,
  • cancellation of the employment contract by default.

The reason for termination of the employment relationship must be stated in a way that does not in itself include an evaluation of the employee. If the employment relationship was terminated because of reasons due to the employee, the employer may not itemise or describe these reasons in the certificate of employment.

The recording of the reason for termination of the employment relationship and who gave notice to terminate is usually required by the employment authorities when evaluating a jobseeker’s entitlement to unemployment benefit.

An incorrect certificate of employment must be corrected

An evaluation of conduct may only be included if the employee requests it.

An evaluation of the occupational skills and conduct of the employee may only be entered in the certificate of employment at the employee’s request. The employer may not write anything in the certificate of employment intended to communicate any other information about the employee than that explicitly stated.

If the certificate of employment contains incorrect or unlawful information (e.g. concerning sickness absences or family leave), or if it includes the reason for termination of employment or a testimonial even though the employee did not request either of these, the employer is required to issue a new certificate of employment with these errors corrected.

If the employee requested an evaluation of his/her occupational skills and conduct, he/she is not entitled to request a certificate of employment with a different content even if he/she disagrees with the evaluation. However, the employer may face liability for damages if an incorrect evaluation causes the employee harm.

In the testimonial, the employee’s occupational skills and conduct may be evaluated for instance on a scale of 1 to 5 or in words (poor, adequate, satisfactory, good, excellent). Freeform descriptions may also be used. It is important for testimonials that they are truthful, that they describe the employee’s abilities accurately and that they are not too vague.

Neglecting to issue a certificate of employment is a punishable offence

There is a penal provision in the Employment Contracts Act concerning the issuing of a certificate of employment. It provides for a fine to be imposed on an employer or employer’s representative who fails to issue a certificate of employment, whether wilfully or through negligence.

The occupational safety and health authorities may require the employer to issue a certificate of employment by threat of a conditional fine.

Specimen certificate of employment (doc, in Finnish).

 

Legislation

Employment Contracts Act (55/2001)

  • Chapter 6, Section 7: Certificate of employment
  • Chapter 13, Section 11: Penalties

Glossary

Testimonial Evaluation of the employee’s occupational skills and conduct, included in the certificate of employment. This may only be included if the employee specifically requests it

Frequently asked questions Frequently asked questions