Study leave - Yleistä
Study leave is designed to give employees an opportunity to study. The right to take study leave is based on the Finnish Study Leave Act. The Study Leave Act applies to both private-sector employment contracts and public-service employment relationships.
Study leave gives employees an opportunity to study without terminating their employment contract. Study leave is unpaid unless otherwise stipulated in the applicable collective agreement or agreed between the employer and the employee.
Right to take study leave
Employees become entitled to up to two years of study leave in a five-year period when they have been working for the same employer for at least one year in total.
Employees who have been working for the same employer for at least three months in total are entitled to up to five days of study leave.
It is important to note that
- employees on study leave are free to choose their field of study
- their studies do not need to be related to their employer’s business
- the course must be run by an organisation that is subject to public oversight (also abroad), and
- in some circumstances, study leave can be used to take courses provided by trade unions.
Study leave can be taken in one or more blocks. Alternatively, the employee can work a few hours each day and take the rest of the day off to study.
Study leave cannot be used for apprenticeships.
Applying for study leave
Study leave is always granted on the basis of the employee’s application. Study leave of more than five working days must be sought from the employer in writing at least 45 days before the start of the studies. Applications for up to five working days of study leave can be made either verbally or in writing at least 15 days before the planned start of the leave unless otherwise agreed between the employer and the employee.
In respect of applications for more than five working days of study leave, the employer must give their decision in writing at least 15 calendar days before the start of the employee’s studies. Applicants for study leave for up to five working days must be notified of the employer’s decision at least seven days before the start of the studies.
Employer’s right to reschedule study leave
The employer has a right to reschedule an employee’s study leave if the employee’s absence during the period specified in their leave application would cause considerable inconvenience for the employer. The employer can postpone an employee’s study leave by up to six months. If the course that the employee wants to attend is run at intervals of more than six months, the employer can postpone their study leave until the beginning of the next course.
The employer also has the right to reschedule an employee’s study leave if less than six months have elapsed since the employee’s last study leave and the new leave is not designed to allow the employee to complete the studies or the course started during the previous study leave.
Employers who regularly employ at least five people can reschedule an employee’s study leave no more than twice in a row on the aforementioned grounds. There is no cap on the number of times that an employer can reschedule an employee’s study leave if they employ no more than four workers. Employers cannot reschedule an employee’s study leave arbitrarily but only if the leave would significantly impede the employer’s business.
Employee’s right to reschedule study leave
Study leaves of more than five days can be rescheduled by the employee as long as the new schedule does not considerably inconvenience their employer. Employees who wish to cancel their study leave must let their employer know in writing at least two weeks before they are due to start their leave.
Employee’s right to return to work early
Employees who have been granted more than 50 working days of study leave can end their leave early and return to work at any time. Shorter study leaves cannot be terminated early. An employee on study leave who wishes to return to work early must let their employer know at least four weeks before they intend to return to work.
An employee who becomes unfit for work while on study leave due to pregnancy, childbirth or an accident and is prevented from working for a period of at least seven consecutive days can ask any sick days after the first seven days to be deducted from their study leave allowance. Such requests must be made as soon as possible. The employee can take the extra days of leave at a later date but must submit a separate application to do so.
An employer does not have to take an employee who has gone on study leave back until any new employee hired to cover for them can be legally terminated.
Accrual of annual holiday during study leave
Employees on study leave accrue annual holiday for up to 30 days of leave per holiday credit year. Only employees who return to work immediately upon the end of their study leave are entitled to their annual holiday allowance.
Study leave and termination
An employer cannot terminate or cancel an employee’s contract on the grounds that they have sought or taken study leave. However, being on study leave does not prevent an employee from being terminated on normal legal grounds.