General information on topic

Laying off is only allowed if one of the grounds given in the Employment Contracts Act is fulfilled.

An employer may lay off an employee only for one of two reasons:

  • the employer has a financial or production-related reason for terminating the employment contract, or the work has diminished substantially and permanently, and there is no other work or training to be offered to the employee. In these cases, the employer may lay off the employee until further notice.
  • An employer may also lay off an employee when the employer’s potential for offering work has diminished temporarily and the employer cannot reasonably provide the employee with other suitable work or training. The work or the potential for offering work are considered to have diminished temporarily if they may be estimated to last a maximum of 90 days. In the latter case, the lay-off will be for a fixed term.

Lay-offs principally concern permanent employees. The employer is entitled to lay off an employee in a fixed-term employment relationship only if the employee is working as a substitute for a permanent employee and if the employer would be entitled to lay off the permanent employee if the permanent employee were working.

The above applies to the employer’s right to lay off employees unilaterally. Employer and the employee may also agree on a lay-off for a fixed period if this is needed in view of the employer’s operations or financial standing.

A lay-off may be a full-time lay-off, in which case the obligation to work is completely removed, or a part-time lay-off, in which case the daily or weekly working hours are reduced. The employment relationships of laid-off employees remain in force.

There may be provisions in the applicable collective agreement as to the order in which employees must be laid off. Also, matters may be agreed upon in local codetermination talks that must be taken into account when implementing lay-offs.

Employees are entitled to take employment with another employer during the lay-off. When the work situation improves, the employer will notify the laid-off employees of the resumption of work.

Lay-off notice

Nostoteksti: A lay-off must be announced at least 14 days in advance.

As soon as the need for lay-offs becomes known, the employer must present employees or their representative with an advance explanation of the lay-off. This may be given verbally or in writing.

The advance explanation must indicate:

  • the grounds for the lay-off,
  • the estimated extent,
  • how it will be implemented,
  • when it will begin, and
  • its duration or estimated duration.

The employer must give the employees or their representative an opportunity to be heard concerning the explanation given.

It is not necessary to present an advance explanation or to consult the employees in enterprises with fewer than 20 regular employees. In such enterprises, the procedures provided for in the Act on Codetermination in Undertakings must be followed.

Employees to be laid off must be notified in person no later than 14 calendar days before the beginning of the lay-off. Collective agreements may specify longer notice periods.


Instructions for employee

You may accept work from another employer while you are laid off.

Rights and responsibilities before the lay-off

As an employee about to be laid off, you must be given the employer’s lay-off notice in person. If this is not possible, the employer may deliver the lay-off notice by mail or electronically.

The employer must, at your request, give you a certificate stating:

  • the grounds for the lay-off,
  • the starting time of the lay-off, and
  • its duration or estimated duration.

If you are laid off and you need to apply for unemployment benefit, contact the TE Office (the Employment and Economic Development Office).

Rights and responsibilities during the lay-off

As a laid-off employee, during the lay-off you have the right:

  • to accept other employment (even in a competitor company),
  • to live in housing provided as compensation in kind or on a lease tied to your employment contract,
  • to use your fringe benefits (e.g. a company phone or car), if it has been agreed that they will remain in force during the lay-off, or
  • terminate your employment contract with immediate effect.

You will continue to accrue annual holiday during a lay-off. For the purpose of holiday determination, periods equivalent to work will be calculated for the duration of the lay-off, 30 working days at a time. In case of lay-offs implemented as shorter working hours, the maximum period equivalent to work is six months at a time, beginning at the beginning of the holiday credit year.

During the lay-off, you must not:

  • disclose any commercial or professional secrets of your employer,
  • establish a competing enterprise, or
  • cause harm to your employer.

Resigning during a lay-off

You have the right to terminate your employment relationship with immediate effect during the lay-off, up until seven days before the date of resuming work announced by the employer. Your employment relationship will terminate when you deliver your resignation notice to the employer. If you deliver your resignation notice by mail or electronically, it will be considered to have been received by the employer on the seventh day from its sending.

If the lay-off has lasted for more than 200 calendar days without interruption, you are entitled to terminate your employment relationship and receive severance pay in compensation. This does not apply to part-time lay-offs. Severance pay is calculated according to the period of notice specified in the collective agreement applicable to the employer. Because this is paid as a compensation, you have no obligation to work during the notice period.

If you sign an employment contract with another employer while you are laid off, you are entitled to terminate that contract with five days’ notice regardless of the duration of the contract.

To request a lay-off certificate, you may use this form: Document request to employer (doc, in Finnish).


Instructions for employer

Laying off is only allowed if one of the grounds given in the Employment Contracts Act is fulfilled. Employees are entitled to take employment with another employer during the lay-off.

Employees to be laid off must be notified in person at least 14 calendar days in advance. A longer period of notice for lay-offs may be specified in the applicable collective agreement.

An employee is always entitled to receive a written certificate of the lay-off, indicating its grounds, start time and duration. A lay-off notification must be given to the shop steward representing the employees to be laid off. If the lay-off involves ten or more employees, the employer must also notify the TE Office (the Employment and Economic Development Office).

The following form may be used for preparing a lay-off notification and certificate: Lay-off notification and certificate (pdf, in Finnish).

Cancelling and ending a lay-off

The employer must cancel a lay-off already announced before the lay-off begins if the grounds for the lay-off no longer exist. This is the case for instance if the employer finds new work for the employee(s) to be laid off to do.

A lay-off may only be ended under the Employment Contracts Act. An employee laid off until further notice must be notified by the employer of the resuming of work at least one week in advance unless otherwise agreed.

If temporary work ends and a new lay-off is to begin, the employer must again observe the 14-day period of notice. Differing procedures and means for inviting employees to return to work more flexibly in the middle of the lay-off may be provided for in collective agreements.

A laid-off employee may return to work immediately when the grounds for the lay-off no longer exist, if that is convenient for both employer and employee.

Termination of the employment relationship of a laid-off employee

If the employer terminates a laid-off employee’s employment contract by giving notice so that the contract ends during the lay-off, the employee is entitled to severance pay. The employer may deduct a sum equal to 14 days’ wages from the severance pay if the employee has been laid off using a notice period of more than 14 days based on law or an agreement. Collective agreements may contain provisions derogating from the above.

Artificially interrupting a lay-off is not acceptable. For example, annual holidays do not interrupt a continuous period of lay-off.



Employment Contracts Act (55/2001) 

  • Chapter 5 Lay-offs

Annual Holidays Act (162/2005)

  • Chapter 2, Section 7: Period equivalent to time at work