Picking of natural products

Picking of natural products - Yleistä

The page describes the legal status of foreign nationals collecting natural products under everyman's rights and the rights and obligations of pickers and operators in the natural product picking sector.

Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products

The Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products (487/2021) applies to foreign nationals collecting natural products under everyman’s rights. The Act is completely new and entered into force on 14 June 2021. The objective of the Act is to improve the legal status of foreigners who are in Finland collecting natural products and to equalise the competitive opportunities of companies operating in the natural products sector. The Act also aims to support the growth of the natural products sector and the development of international competitiveness.

In the past, the status of foreign berry pickers has been largely unregulated in legislation, because their position has not be considered that of an employee. Instead, they have been seen as acting as a type of entrepreneur. In 2014-2020, the letter of intent procedure for the picking of natural products applied between the authorities and companies in the natural product collection sector.

Scope of application

The Act applies to foreigners who collect natural products while living in accommodation and eating meals provided by a natural product picking operator. The Act does not apply, for example, to employees of berry farms, when they collect natural products during their free time.

The Act applies to two types of natural product collection sector operators (later in the text "operator"):

  • an operator who has invited the picker to Finland
  • an operator who arranges accommodation and catering for pickers who are already in Finland with the purpose of purchasing natural products from them. 

The Act applies to natural products referred to in section 89 of the Income Tax Act, the picking of which is permitted under everyman's rights without the consent of the landowner. Natural products in the Income Tax Act refer to wild berries, mushrooms and cones, as well as wild plants or parts thereof collected for human consumption, medicine or the manufacture of a medicinal product. The income earned by the picker handing over these products is not taxable income, unless the income is considered a salary.

The Act on the legal status of foreigners collecting natural products does not contain provisions on the entry, residence or right to work of foreigners. The provisions contained in the Aliens Act (301/2004) apply to the entry, exit, residence and employment of natural product pickers.

Provisions on the characteristics of an employment relationship are laid down in Chapter 1, section 1, subsection 1 of the Employment Contracts Act. The collection of natural products may also fulfil the characteristics of an employment relationship on a case-by-case basis, in which case labour legislation and the employer's obligations will apply. If the legal relationship between the picker and the operator fulfils the characteristics of the employment relationship, the Act does not apply.

TE Office assesses the reliability of the operator

The operator must be reliable. An operator who is not reliable cannot act as a natural product collection operator within the meaning laid down in the Act and invite pickers to Finland or provide accommodation and collection equipment to them for the purpose of buying natural products from them.

The TE Office assesses whether the operator is reliable in the manner referred to in the Act. The assessment of reliability depends on whether the operator has complied with provisions of the Act in their business activities. In addition, it is ensured that the operator has properly managed taxes and other statutory payments and that the operator has the financial capacity to operate. The evaluation shall be made at the request of the operator for one year at a time. For more information, see the TE Office website.

The right of the occupational safety and health authority to information and the obligation of the operator to keep documents

Notwithstanding secrecy provisions, the occupational safety and health authority has the right to obtain from the operator information and documents that are necessary for the performance of the monitoring and supervision laid down in this Act. 

The operator must keep the information related to the fulfilment of the obligations laid down in this Act in such a way that these can be easily checked by the occupational safety and health authority if necessary. The operator must keep the data for a period of two years from the end of the year of collection.

Contact authority Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland Division of Occupational Safety and Health

The contact authority provides general advice on the applicable legislation and will provide information on how to contact the correct authority. Advice is provided to pickers and natural product collection sector operators.

Please send any question you may have to luonnontuotteidenkeruu@avi.fi.
Further information: Niko Huru, Inspector, Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland.

Natural produce picking - Muualla Tyosuojelu.fissä