The occupational safety and health authority monitors households using foreign labour
This year, the occupational safety and health authority will carry out enforcement on private households where a foreign worker has been hired for domestic work, for example as a cleaner or nanny. The aim of the enforcement is to combat labour exploitation. Inspections will be conducted in southern Finland.
The enforcement will be targeted at employers. For enforcement purposes, employees will be asked to provide information on working conditions and the terms of employment. Employees can also contact the occupational safety and health authority anonymously by calling the occupational safety and health authorities' helpline.
"The aim of enforcement is both to address shortcomings and to prevent labour exploitation," says Niina Mäki, Occupational Safety and Health Administrative Officer at the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland.
There is a risk of labour exploitation associated with domestic work
Foreign employees working in private households have an increased risk of being victims of exploitation. There are several risk factors.
"Work is done alone in the employer's home. The employee may be in a dependent position towards the employer, especially if the employee's residence permit is limited to the work of a domestic helper and cleaner in the service of a private employer. The employee may not have networks in Finland. In addition, some live with the employer, which increases the risk, for example, of working beyond the agreed working hours," Mäki says.
The use of private home and care services has increased in recent years. In particular, home care for the elderly and the ordering of cleaning services to homes have increased. The work of foreign employees in several homes in so-called cleaning or household rings has also become more common.
Terms of employment cannot be agreed freely
When an employee is hired in a household, the employer must comply with Finnish labour law. Many employees working in households mainly carry out cleaning work, in which case the universally binding Collective labour agreement for the facilities services sector must also be applied to the work.
The collective agreement defines, among other things, the minimum wage and working hours. As of 1 April 2021, the minimum wage in the facility services sector is EUR 1,774 per month or EUR 11.02 per hour. Regular working hours are usually no more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. Hours worked must be recorded in timesheets.
Employer obligations also apply to those who hire an employee together in a home cleaning or household ring.
Advice and guidance
The guide Private households as employers (in Finnish) has been prepared for those hiring an employee to their home. The guide was prepared by the Uusimaa TE Office and the Regional State Administrative Agency's Division of Occupational Safety and Health. It can be found on the TE Services webpage Work permit issues (in Finnish).
Information on the employer's obligations is available on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website Tyosuojelu.fi. The telephone service of the OSH authorities is open on weekdays from 9am to 3pm at 0295 016 620. The helpline serves both employers and employees, and you can also call it anonymously.
Inspector Niina Mäki, tel. 0295 016 134
Inspector Noora Mattsson, tel. 0295 016 383
Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland, Division of Occupational Safety and Health