MyFondia VirtualLawyer
August 13, 2019

The Working Hours Act is changing – are you ready?

Parliament approved the Government’s proposal for a new Working Hours Act on Wednesday 13th March. The new law will come into force on 1 January 2020.

The amendments are still waiting for the President’s approval of course, but it is unusual for the signature not to be obtained and the matter returned to Parliament. Now is a good time to start preparing the necessary changes so that you can start 2020 fresh.

As a result of the reform, the concept of working hours can no longer be tied to the workplace, as in current law. Instead, time spent on work at any place will be considered as working hours. As a result, remote working will fall under the Working Hours Act. It is a good idea to think about what remote working contracts and guidelines currently look like. However, travel time is still not counted as working hours, unless traveling is considered a work task. Of course, many companies also have their own practices and guidelines regarding this.

The most important amendments to the Act concern flexible working hours for experts and working time banks

Flexible working hours can be applied in expert work, where the employee can independently decide when and where to complete at least half of their working hours. In this arrangement, the overall schedule of work can be determined by customer contracts and needs, but the employee has the right to decide at what times and where he or she completes at least half of his/her working hours. This arrangement requires an agreement between the employer and the employee. With the possibility of flexible working hours, it can be assumed that the scope of workers who are interpreted as falling outside of the working hours legislation will be reduced. This may also lead to the need to specify the situation in your organisation.

Many workplaces have been waiting for the opportunity to introduce a working time bank to increase flexibility

A statutory working time bank can now also be introduced at workplaces where the collective agreement has not permitted the arrangement to date. Hours worked, earned leave or monetary benefits that have been swapped for leave can be deposited in the working time bank in return for paid holiday. The working time bank and its terms are agreed on at the workplace, but the transfer of individual instalments to the bank requires the consent of both the employee and the employer. Therefore, the use of the bank is always voluntary for both parties.

Other changes related to the new Working Hours Act include, for example, additional flexibility for flexitime and average working hours, widening the scope of periodic work, the release of temporary night work and monitoring the maximum number of working hours instead of the maximum number of overtime hours. Assessing and planning the impact of the changes requires some manoeuvring when workers and systems need to work in a new and ambitious way. However, there is time and something well planned is half done, as they say. Or at least it is planned.

The new Working Hours Act and the associated changes will be discussed in more detail at Fondia’s training event (In Finnish) on 28 August 2019 at 08:30-12. Alternatively, you can participate in a webinar held at the same time. Sign up to the event here and to the webinar here!