A foreign employee must have the right to work in Finland. The grounds for the right to work depend on the citizenship of the foreign employee, what work he/she is to perform in Finland and for how long a period.
Citizens of the Nordic countries, Member States of the EU, Liechtenstein and Switzerland do not need to apply for a residence permit in order to work in Finland. They have the right to work in Finland on the grounds of their citizenship.
Employees who are not citizens of any of the aforementioned countries generally need a residence permit for an employed person or another kind of residence permit allowing for paid employment.
The Aliens Act lists a number of scenarios where employment in Finland is allowed without a residence permit for an employed person.
The right to work must be verified
The employer is required to ensure that foreign employees have a residence permit entitling them to work in Finland. The employer is also required to keep a record of foreign employees and the grounds for their right to work. The employer must further provide such information for the employment and economic development office (TE Services) and the personnel representative at the workplace.
The Aliens Act requires contractors contracting or subcontracting work or using agency workers employed by a foreign employer to ensure that such employees have the right to work.
Separate legislation for posted workers
A posted worker is an employee sent by a foreign company to Finland to perform work on a temporary basis. The minimum terms and conditions of employment and working conditions for workers posted to Finland are provided for in the Posted Workers Act.
If you are not a Finnish citizen, the Aliens Act requires you to prove to your employer that you have the right to work in Finland. You must present to your employer your passport, official travel document or residence permit card.
The employer will generally make a copy of the document verifying your right to work, because he is required by law to keep that information at the workplace.
Residence of an EU citizen to be registered at a police station
If you have the citizenship of an EU Member State, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you do not need to apply for a Finnish residence permit. However, if your stay in Finland lasts for more than three months, you must register your residence. Go to your local police station to register.
If you are not a citizen of any of the aforementioned countries, your right to work in Finland must derive from one of the grounds mentioned in the Aliens Act. If you need a residence permit, you must apply for it yourself.
If there is any change in your right of residence or any of the grounds for your right to work, you must inform your employer immediately. If your residence permit is about to expire, you must submit an application for a new residence permit while the old one is still valid. Give your employer a copy of the receipt of your pending application and then give him a copy of your new residence permit as soon as you receive it.
Further information: Working in Finland. Finnish Immigration Service.
Terms and conditions of employment and occupational safety
If there is anything unclear about your pay, working hours or any other terms and conditions of employment, talk to your employer first. When your employment relationship ends, your employer will not provide a certificate of employment automatically; you must request it. You may use this form (doc, in Finnish): Document request to employer.
Safety at work is the responsibility of the employer, but you as the employee also have responsibilities. If the work causes a serious hazard to your life or health or that of other employees, you have the right to refuse to perform that work.
Under the Aliens Act, an employer with foreign employees must:
- ensure that an alien entering his or her service and working in his or her employment has the required residence permit for an employed person or that the alien does not need a residence permit (Aliens Act, section 86a), and
- keep the information on the aliens in his or her employment and on the grounds for their right to work easily available at the workplace (Aliens Act, section 86a).
The information that the employer must keep at the workplace must include:
- the personal data of the foreign employee, and
- the grounds for the foreign employee’s right to work.
The employer shall store the information for four years beyond the termination of the alien’s employment. The employer may choose how to store this information, but it must be easily available for inspection by the occupational safety and health authorities.
However, the obligation to keep such information does not apply to a client using posted workers, although all the other employer’s obligations provided for in section 86a of the Aliens Act do apply.
Principal terms and conditions of employment according to legislation
The following obligations also apply to the employer under the Aliens Act:
- The employer shall inform the shop steward, the elected representative and the occupational safety and health representative of the alien’s name and the applicable collective agreement (Aliens Act, section 86a).
- The employer must affirm that the principal terms and conditions of employment of the foreign employee comply with current regulations and the applicable collective agreement. If a collective agreement is not applied, the terms of employment must correspond to those applied to employees in the labour market doing similar work (Aliens Act, section 72).
The principal terms and conditions of employment include at least the following:
- the date of commencement of the work,
- the trial period,
- the place where the work is performed,
- job duties,
- the collective agreement applicable to the work,
- grounds for determination of wages,
- amount of wages,
- the pay period,
- regular working hours,
- the manner of determining annual holiday,
- the terms and conditions concerning the period of notice.
In case of a fixed-term employment relationship, the grounds for concluding an employment contract for a fixed term and the actual or estimated expiry date of the employment contract must also be recorded.
Information to be supplied to the employment and economic development office (TE Services)
Under the Aliens Act, the employer is required to submit information to the TE Services:
- When an employer hires a person other than an EU citizen, a person comparable to an EU citizen or a member of such a person’s family, the employer must submit to the TE Services a report on the principal terms and conditions of employment.
- The report to the TE Services must be submitted without delay (within one week) and must describe the principal terms and conditions of employment (including the principal job duties, the duration and nature of the work, wages, the applicable collective agreement and the period of notice).
- This information may be submitted in free form (e.g. by attaching a copy of the employment contract) or using the work permit application annex form available in the online service of the TE Services.
Further information and form: Employer’s duty to provide information about foreign workers. TE Services.
If the employer neglects his notification obligation, the occupational safety and health authorities are required to report him to the police.
Forms from the occupational safety and health authorities
Forms (in Finnish) for recording the right to work and the minimum terms and conditions of employment are available from the occupational safety and health authorities:
- List of foreign employees and the grounds for their right to work (doc)
- Grounds for a foreign employee’s right to work (doc)
- Report on the principal terms and conditions of employment (pdf).
Finnish occupational safety regulations must be followed
The employer must ensure that the workplace is compliant with Finnish occupational safety regulations as regards its working conditions. Among other things, the employer must ensure that the work environment and tools are safe and that foreign employees are provided with sufficient training and guidance for their job duties in a language that they can understand.