Agreement-based cooperation processes

Agreement-based cooperation processes

Agreeing on cooperation in occupational safety and health matters

Cooperation in occupational safety and health matters is governed by the Finnish Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces.

However, alternative arrangements can be agreed in writing between employers’ and employees’ national unions. Similar agreements can also be drawn up in the public sector between the negotiation authorities of, for example, the central government, local governments and parishes.

National agreements

National agreements can lay down provisions on, for example, the length of the occupational safety and health representative’s and the occupational safety and health committee’s terms in office.

However, the following rights are always guaranteed by the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health and cannot be restricted even on the basis of national collective agreements:

  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to access information
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to intervene in dangerous practices, and
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to be protected against unjustified dismissal.

The following statutory rights are also always protected:

  • the occupational safety and health representative’s and deputy representatives’ right to be trained
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to put time aside for their work, and
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to be reimbursed for any loss of earnings.

Local agreements

Arrangements to ensure that cooperation in occupational safety and health matters is organised in a manner that reflects the circumstances of the workplace can also be agreed locally. If the law permits local agreements, the employees must always be guaranteed at least the same level of influence on occupational safety and health matters as that provided for in the law.

Local agreements can include provisions on, for example, the occupational safety and health committee’s term of office and stipulate a shorter term than two calendar years for the occupational safety and health representative. The occupational safety and health committee or another local cooperative body can also extend the occupational safety and health representative’s term to four calendar years in special circumstances.

The following rights are always guaranteed by the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health and cannot be restricted on the basis of local agreements:

  • the right of employees to elect an occupational safety and health representative and deputy representatives
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to access information
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s and deputy representatives’ right to be trained
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to put time aside for their work
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to be reimbursed for any loss of earnings
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to intervene in dangerous practices
  • the occupational safety and health representative’s right to be protected against unjustified dismissal
  • the right of the members of the occupational safety and health committee to put time aside for their work and be remunerated for their work, and
  • the right of the occupational safety and health representative and the occupational safety and health committee to a designated space in which to perform their work.

The parties to such local agreements are the employer and the occupational safety and health representative or some other representative of the employees. If no personnel representative has been chosen in the workplace, the agreement can be entered into by the entire personnel or a specific group of employees.

It is the employer’s responsibility to inform the employees of the applicable agreement in writing. Agreements concerning cooperation in occupational safety and health matters are in force indefinitely and can be terminated at two months’ notice.

Local agreements apply to all employees whom the personnel representative who signed the agreement must be deemed to represent.