Termination on grounds related to the employee’s person

Termination on grounds related to the employee’s person

There are certain circumstances in which an employee can be terminated on grounds related to the employee's person.

Examples of such grounds include any significant change in the employee’s ability to perform their work and serious neglect of contractual duties such as poor performance, failures to follow instructions or recurrent tardiness. When assessing the grounds, the number of employees employed by the employer and the circumstances of the employer and employee as a whole shall be considered.

Grounds for termination related to the employee's person include

  • serious breaches of the terms and conditions of the employment contract
  • serious violations of the law
  • serious neglect of other duties that are integral to the employment relationship, and
  • any significant change in the employee’s personal circumstances that makes them unable to perform their work.

Employees must not be terminated on the grounds of pregnancy or family leave

The Finnish Employment Contracts Act lays down special provisions on the termination of pregnant employees and employees on family leave. It is illegal to terminate an employee on the basis of pregnancy or because they exercise their right to take family leave.

Any termination of an employee during their pregnancy or family leave is deemed to have been due to these factors unless the employer is able to prove otherwise. An employee can only be terminated on financial and production-related grounds during their pregnancy or family leave if their employer goes out of business.

The validity of grounds for termination must be evaluated holistically

Employees cannot be terminated on the grounds of illness, disability or injury. However, an employer can be within their rights to terminate an employee for these kinds of reasons if they cause the employee to become substantially less able to perform their duties for a long period of time and the employer cannot reasonably be expected to accommodate for the employee’s reduced work ability. The estimated length of an employee’s illness and its impact on their work ability and ability to perform their duties are determined by health care professionals.

The Employment Contracts Act includes a list of personal circumstances that cannot be used as grounds for termination. These include

  • an employee’s illness, disability or injury, except where these cause a substantial reduction in the employee’s work ability for a long period of time and the employer cannot reasonably be expected to continue to employ them
  • an employee’s participation in industrial action pursuant to the Finnish Collective Agreements Act or on their trade union’s orders
  • an employee’s political, religious or other views or participation in social activism or associations, and
  • an employee’s exercising their legal remedies.

The Employment Contracts Act does not provide a list of acceptable grounds for termination, which is why the validity of grounds related to the employee’s person must always be evaluated holistically and on a case-by-case basis.