The grey economy
Minimum terms and conditions of employment
Minimum terms and conditions of employment - Yleistä
Minimum terms and conditions of employment are based on legislation and collective agreements. In Finland, all employees are entitled to work under the terms and conditions of employment in accordance with legislation and the collective agreements.
Minimum terms and conditions of employment apply, for example, to working hours, wages, family leaves, sickness-related absences and holidays. For further information on the minimum terms and conditions, refer to section Employment relationship. If the employer does not comply with the minimum terms and conditions of employment, it can be considered as labour exploitation or even as human trafficking.
Labour exploitation means taking advantage of a vulnerable employee in order to achieve financial gain. For example, the employee may be paid insufficient wages or required to work too many hours. It may be a case of a slight trampling of the terms and conditions of employment or a more serious act, in which the employee may have been misled, threatened or made to live in conditions that are in violation of human dignity.
Labour exploitation occurs is many different sectors. Various authorities and organisations cooperate in order to prevent such exploitation. The work to prevent labour exploitation also requires those commissioning work to operate in a vigilant and responsible manner.
The occupational safety and health authorities monitor compliance with the minimum terms and conditions of employment and occurrence of work discrimination. For example, a situation where an employee is required to work under poor terms and conditions of employment due to their origin or language constitutes work discrimination. The occupational safety and health authorities do not, however, take action on an employee’s behalf or provide legal assistance in a court case.
The police will investigate a case of labour exploitation as a crime, for example, under an offence classification of work discrimination, extortionate work discrimination, extortion and human trafficking.
Contractor of work: identify and prevent labour exploitation
Labour exploitation occurs especially in sectors where a lot of subcontracting or foreign workforce is utilised. The contractor of the work needs to know how to identify and prevent labour exploitation. A responsible contractor will aim to ensure that their operations do not enable the exploitation of employees.
The following signs can be an indication that there is a risk of labour exploitation in subcontracting:
- The contract price for subcontracting is so small that the employer is unable to pay all the employers’ contributions.
- It is unclear who are working at the workplace.
- The employees are hesitant to talk about their working hours.
- The same employees are often working long working days.
- The occupational safety of employees has not been ensured.
- The employees are not arriving at work independently; someone is escorting them to the workplace.
The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) has published guidelines for companies and employers to take action regarding exploitation:
Human trafficking includes forced labour where victims are misled or compelled by exploiting their dependent status or vulnerability into working in circumstances degrading human dignity. The victims of work-related human trafficking are commonly foreign workers. Indeed, extortionate work discrimination is very similar in its essential elements to human trafficking. If workers are forced to work in unreasonable circumstances with no regard for occupational safety and health or in violation of human dignity, they may be considered victims of human trafficking. Investigation of suspected human trafficking is a case for the police.
Assistance system for victims of human trafficking
What the occupational safety and health authorities can do for any victims of human trafficking found through workplace surveys or otherwise is to refer them to the assistance system for victims of human trafficking. If necessary, the occupational safety and health authorities will submit an application to the assistance system on behalf of the victim. Referral to the assistance system always requires the consent of the victim.