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Finland  Finland

Key Facts

Population5,401,267
Collective Bargaining Coverage 91%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 74%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

industry – but much left to company level negotiations

Workplace Representation

union

Board-level Representation

yes: state-owned and private companies

Company Board Structure

monistic or dualistic

Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Trade Unions

Union density is high in Finland, with almost three-quarters of employees in unions. Individual unions, which have considerable autonomy, are organised in three confederations, broadly along occupational and educational lines. The three confederations are SAK, STTK and AKAVA. However, there are plans for a wide-ranging merger.3

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Collective Bargaining

Until recently, collective bargaining in Finland was predominantly centralised with a national agreement setting the framework for pay increases at lower levels. In the 2007 pay round bargaining appeared to have permanently shifted to industry level with increasing room for company level bargaining on top. However, in both 2011 and 2013, national agreements were again signed, marking a return to centralised bargaining, for the time being at least.

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Workplace Representation

Employee representation at the workplace is primarily provided by the union representatives, or elected representative if there are no union representatives, rather than through statutory structures. Legislation gives union representatives the right to be involved in so-called “cooperation negotiations” in companies and other organisations with 20 or more employees. (The employment threshold was reduced from 30 in 2007.)

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Board-level Representation

Workers in companies with more than 150 employees have the right to participate in management decisions. The mechanism for doing so can be agreed between the company and the employee representatives. However, if there is no agreement, it is up to the company to decide the level at which employee are represented: in a single-tier board, in a supervisory board or at operating level.

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European-level Representation

The mechanisms for choosing representatives from Finland for European level bodies – both European Works Councils and the European Company – are not set out in detail by the legislation. Representatives are to be chosen by employees, usually by the union representatives in the workplace, in line with local practice and without a specific election. The fallback provisions only come into effect if no agreement on the method of selection can be reached.

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Health and Safety Representation

The main figures representing employees in health and safety are the specially elected health and safety representatives, although in larger workplaces a health and safety committee – a body with both employee and management representatives – should also be set up. The intention is that employees should cooperate with the employer in ensuring a healthy and safe workplace, although they also have the right to interrupt work in the case of imminent and serious danger.

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Financial Participation

Since the 1990s employee financial participation and profit-sharing in particular have been encouraged by the Finnish government, mainly via new legal regulations and initiatives. The most recent reform came into force on 1 January 2011.

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