The occupational safety and health authorities monitor the working conditions and terms and conditions of employment of employees in employment relationships. In berry picking where the pickers are in an employment relationship, employment legislation and the applicable collective agreement must be complied with.
Terms and conditions of employment in berry picking 2016
Support and maintenance personnel in employment relationships and, for instance, workers on berry farms, are covered by employment legislation and hence subject to the monitoring of employment relationships and working conditions by the occupational safety and health authorities.
Berry picking work in an employment relationship must comply with the collective agreement for the agricultural industry and currently valid employment legislation.
Wages and terms of employment applied starting December 1st 2015 (pdf-files):
Forest berry picking
Forest berry pickers are generally not regarded as being in an employment relationship, because their work does not satisfy the elements of an employment relationship. In order for an employment relationship to exist, there must be an employment contract where the employee commits to working under the direction and supervision of the employer in return for wages or other compensation. (Labour Council statements TN 1483-10, 3 Jun 2010 and TN 1458-14, 24 Jun 2014, in Finnish).
The status of foreign forest berry pickers is described in a memo by Jaana Paanetoja LL.D.: Status of foreign forest berry pickers. Jaana Paanetoja LL.D. (Edilex news, 25 Aug 2014, in Finnish).
Letter of intent concerning forest berry picking
In December 2014, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs concluded a letter of intent with several companies in the berry processing industry. The purpose of this letter of intent is to improve and homogenise procedures concerning citizens of countries requiring a visa to enter Finland who arrive for the purpose of picking natural produce or for related duties.
The letter of intent contains 26 points concerning agreed procedures. The companies inviting foreign berry pickers undertook for instance to improve the training and guidance provided to them. Also, the recruitment and other costs charged from the berry pickers will be moderated, and reimbursement of costs will be monitored more closely. Quality criteria for accommodation and washing facilities for the berry pickers and for catering will be tightened. The letter of intent is not intended to affect the employment law status of the berry pickers.
Under the letter of intent, the user companies are responsible for ensuring that berry pickers entering Finland on a visa engage in no other work than berry picking, which would be a violation of the Aliens Act. Support and maintenance personnel (cooks, car mechanics, location scouts, caretakers, group leaders, accountants, etc.) in paid employment must have the required residence permit. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy directs the employment and economic development offices processing the employees’ residence permit applications to expedite their processing. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy advises the user companies on the availability of instructions on how to apply for a residence permit for an employed person and on the collective agreements applicable to the work. (Letter of intent, point 25, in Finnish.)