Finnish working hours in practice

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In a previous blog, we discussed some of the regulations concerning working hours in Finland. Today, we talk about Finnish working hours in practice. 

We look at the ways in which working hours in Finland are typically organized. We discuss the differences in this organization between different types of employees and different industries. 

This blog is based on information Statistics Finland recently published. We also rely very heavily on Hanna Sutela’s recent blog. 

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Finnish working hours in practice

In 2021, Statistics Finland collected data on Finnish working hours. Specifically, they looked at how the working hours were defined in the employees’ employment contracts.

They discovered that 66.8 % of employees in Finland have fixed weekly working hours. Having fixed weekly working hours doesn’t of course mean that they work for that exact number of hours every week. Depending on the workplace, there’s usually flexibility around those hours. 

About 10 % did period-based work. This means that an employee has to do a certain number of hours in a certain period of time. Usually, this means a period of two or three weeks. 

About 6.7. % of employees are either expected to work for as many hours as it takes (total working hours) or they have a certain number of hours for the whole year. 

Usually, only those in upper management have the former type of contract. Their compensation is not based on hours worked at all nor are their hours measured in any way. Employers expect them to work for as many hours as it takes to get the job done. This requirement is reflected in their salaries. 

The latter are, for example, academics. Contractually currently, their annual workload is 1 612 h. 

Less than 5 % of employees had a contract that only specified a minimum number of working hours per week. A roughly equal share of employees had a contract that didn’t guarantee any specific number of working hours at all. 

An equally small share of employees had a contract that is not based on time at all. Rather, it’s based on deliverables. These are common in construction work, for example. Or in sales. 

Some respondents in this survey didn’t know what type of contract they had. 

Working hours and job permanence

The Statistic Finland data shows clearly that certain working hour arrangements are more common in part-time employment than in full-time employment.

Those employees who have fixed weekly working hours are almost always (90 %) in full-time employment. 

An even bigger percentage (ca. 92 %) of those with annual working hours or total working hours are in full-time employment.

The clear majority of employees with period-based, piece-meal, or commission-based contracts were also in full-time employment. 

Those with only a minimum number of guaranteed working hours or no guaranteed working hours at all were usually in part-time employment. 

In her blog, Hanna Sutela analyzes these data a bit more thoroughly. Let’s now take a look at what else we can learn about Finnish working hours in practice.

Finnish working hours in practice for different types of employees

In her blog, Hanna Sutela looks at differences in working hours based on demographic factors as well as between industries. We’ll start with demographic factors and then turn to differences between industries. 

Working hours by different demographic groups

Hanna Sutela informs us that men (70.5 %) more often than women (63.4 %) have fixed weekly working hours. 

One reason for this is that in Finland women more often than men work in untypical employment relationships. These are fixed-term or part-time employment relationships. Or it might be agency work. 

Women’s working hours, in turn, are more often period-based (13.9 % of women employees) than men’s (7.1 % of men employees). Period-based work is very common in the healthcare sector. In Finland, around 85 % of employees in this sector are women.

Employment contracts that specify a minimum number of working hours is also more common for women employees than male employees. 

Total or annual working hours as well as piece-meal or commission-based employment contracts, in turn, are more common for men than for women. 

Untypical working hours (no guaranteed working hours, only a minimum number of hours) are more common among young as well as old workers. For example, 18.3 % of employees under 25 and 18 % of employees over 65 do not have guaranteed hours. 

Among the 25 to 64 year-olds, in contrast, only 5 % or less had that type of contract. 

Those working in specialist positions in white-collar professions very often (75 %) had fixed working hours. In contrast, among blue-collar workers that percentage is only 63. 

Employment contracts that don’t guarantee any working hours whatsoever are more common in blue-collar jobs. Depending on the job, nearly 10 % of blue-collar workers have this type of contract. 

Working hours in different industries

The normal working hours in Finland are 40 hours per week. However, the way those working hours are actually organized varies, as we have already mentioned. So, Finnish working hours in practice can look quite different from one employee to another depending on where they work.

Hanna Sutela explains that, in terms of working hours, the gender segregation of the Finnish labor market explains a lot of the overall differences we see between men and women. We’ve discussed the gender segregation of the Finnish labor market in several of our blogs. But in this one, there’s a graph that illustrates it clearly.

Above, we already alluded to its effects but here’s more info. 

For example, fixed weekly working hours are most common in the male-dominated electrical, gas, and water maintenance industries as well as in the information and communication industries. In these, the share of employees with fixed weekly working hours is 80-86 %. This contributes to the difference we see in the overall shares of men (70.5 %) and women (63.8 %) who have fixed weekly working hours. 

In the women-dominated healthcare and social services industry, in turn, only about 52 % of employees have fixed weekly working hours. There, over 30 % are engaged in period-based work. As we mentioned, among all employees in Finland, about 10 % do period-based work. 

In education, which is also women-dominated, the share of employees with fixed weekly working hours is just below 60 %. There, the share of employees who have total or annual working hours is particularly high (27.3 %).

The hospitality and restaurant industry, in turn, stands out in its share of contracts (14.7 %) that don’t guarantee any working hours at all. Also, in that industry, contracts that only stipulate the minimum weekly hours (14.7 %) are more common than overall in Finland. 

So, although the majority of employees in Finland have fixed weekly working hours, industries can vary widely in terms of what is standard for them. 

As an employee, you should be aware of what your employment contract – and the collective agreement that most likely defines it –  stipulates for you. If all of this is Greek to you, consider enrolling in our Working in Finland online course. It won’t be after that!

This is your ultimate guide to rules governing Finnish employment relationships. Get it from our online store!

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Minna
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