Occupational safety and health enforcement: deficiencies in the wages of foreign employees at half of inspected workplaces
In the supervision related to foreign workforce last year, occupational safety and health authorities focused on minimum working conditions. Inspections revealed a large number of deficiencies in foreign employees’ basic pay and the payment of various supplements. There were also more employment relationships disguised as entrepreneurship. The enforcement findings are described in the recent report about supervision of the use of foreign workers in 2021, published by the occupational safety and health authorities.
In 2021, occupational safety and health authorities carried out more than 1,500 inspections as part of the supervision related to foreign workforce in Finland. The key issue in the supervision was to check that employers comply with the legal provisions on the minimum working conditions of foreign employees.
Wage-related matters were checked in nearly 600 inspections and deficiencies were found in nearly half of the inspected sites. In most cases, the basic pay or the payment of supplements were inadequate, or no supplements had been paid at all. Construction and restaurant sectors were the most problematic areas (Deficiencies were found in 65% of the inspections).
A large number of deficiencies in the records of working hours were also found. For this reason, it was often difficult to verify the correctness of the wage payments as the inspectors could not determine the actual hours worked.
Disguising work as entrepreneurship has become more common
In an increasing number of cases, an employment relationship has been disguised as entrepreneurship or what is called light entrepreneurship. Occasionally, the employment relationship had been changed into a commission agreement with terms similar to an employment contract without the employee understanding the difference. The phenomenon is particularly common in the construction sector but also in car repair and car wash industries.
Providing foreign employees information about their rights
Occupational safety and health authorities are increasingly communicating directly with foreign employees and parties assisting them. In 2021, the occupational safety and health authorities updated the guide ‘As a foreign employee in Finland’ in 14 languages and arranged a webinar on the rights of employees in Finland in English.
“From the perspective of preventing work-related exploitation, it is important that foreign employees know their rights and know how to ask the authorities for help,” explains Riku Rajamäki, Senior Officer in the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland.
Click here to read the report: Supervision of the use of foreign workers in 2021 (pdf; the report is in Finnish).
The report will also be published in Swedish and English at www.tyosuojelu.fi/web/en/about-us/publications.
Senior Officer Riku Rajamäki
+358 (0)29 501 6339, firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland, Occupational Safety and Health Division