Have you received a job offer from Finland? Is it time to negotiate your salary? In this blog post, we’ll talk about salaries in Finland. We tell you how you can find out your correct salary level. We also point you to the direction of further information since we really can’t give you definite answers in this blog post.
No minimum wage
Finland doesn’t have minimum wage legislation. In principle, the employer and the employee can freely agree on salary. The law only says that it should be commensurate with what is normal for the field in question in Finland. In practice, however, collective agreements often regulate salaries in Finland.
Collective agreements also tell how salaries should be determined in any particular field. Some fields, for example, may have salaries that include a performance-based component. Some might only have fixed hourly or monthly salaries. The agreements often also state how previous work experience should be reflected in a person’s salary. Collective agreements are thus your best source of information about salaries in Finland.
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What are collective agreements?
Finland has a high level of unionization in the labor market. As a result, a large part of the conditions governing an employment relationship are agreed upon collectively in negotiations between the employer and employee unions.
In Finland, unions and membership in them is based on occupation. Currently, there are about 70 employee unions in Finland. They don’t all negotiate their own collective agreements. Some work together and negotiate joint agreements.
If you want to learn more about the different unions, our tutorial “Working in Finland” includes a comprehensive list of Finnish trade unions. The list includes, for example, short descriptions, homepage addresses, and links to collective agreements if openly available.
The so-called collective agreements complement and expand on the provisions of Finnish labor legislation. These collective agreements bind all those employers that are members of the union that has signed the agreement.
Some collective agreements become so-called universally applicable collective agreements for the whole sector. Certain rules determine which collective agreements become that. The rules relate to the level of unionization in that particular field.
These universally applicable collective agreements bind all employers of the said sector irrespective of whether they themselves are members of an employer union or not. Examples of such universally applicable collective agreements are, for example, that of the IT service sector or that of the Facilities Service Sector.
What if there’s no collective agreement?
If your employer is not required to follow any existing collective agreement, your salary is what you will be able to negotiate. Although there is then no agreement that sets the base-level, your employer can’t legally offer you just anything. The law says that your employer should pay you a salary that is common and reasonable for your position. What that actually means, though, is open for interpretation.
You should come to such a negotiation armed with plenty of information. The more you know about salaries in Finland in your own field, the better off you’ll be. Use the existing collective agreements of a neighboring or similar field as a guide in your negotiations.
There are also internet services which provide some information on salaries in Finland. These are based on the information people have voluntarily given on their job titles and salaries. You cannot take them at face value. The info is, after all, based on people’s own declaration. Also, the same job title in a different sector may have completely different salary levels. They might, however, provide you with an idea of an appropriate salary level for a particular job.
Statistics Finland also publishes statistical data on Finnish salary levels. We have two other blog posts that tell you more about that data. You can read the first installment of those blogs here.
How do I know which collective agreement applies?
Your employer should tell you what collective agreement applies in your case. Your employer doesn’t have to give you a copy of the agreement, but should at least tell you which one it is. This will allow you to search for more information.
The various employee trade unions often publish current collective agreements, wages and wage levels on their websites. Some have stashed this information to their members-only webpages. In that case, try the employer-side union. They might have the agreement openly available.
The unions sometimes have at least parts of the collective agreements translated into English. Some large unions or unions with more international members have the whole agreement in English.
Even if you aren’t a member of a union, you can try to ask for their advice anyway. Some are more willing to help non-members with salary information than others.
All generally binding collective agreements are published in the Finlex Data Bank. But yet again only in Finnish and Swedish.
Desired salary in the job application
Job ads in Finland often ask you to state your desired salary level in your application. It seems contradictory to ask for that in a country where collective agreements are pervasive. But, they ask because collective agreements only set the base levels for salaries. Employers are allowed and often both capable and willing to pay more.
Do you then know how much you should ask? Well, that can be tricky also for native-born Finns. If you search for the word “palkkatoive” in LinkedIn you’ll see plenty of discussions on this topic. There are applicants asking for advice, employers lamenting why applicants don’t write down their desired salary level even when asked, recruiters and applicants alike discussing why this is an issue at all since most employers have a budget anyway, and so forth.
Despite this, if your potential employer asks for your desired salary level, state it. But don’t just wing it. Do research on salary levels as we instructed above. Use collective agreements, call or email the appropriate employee union, ask around, use the websites we mention, etc.
Just remember to take the sector into consideration. Salaries in the private sector are different from the public sector or NGOs. Also, the room to negotiate is larger in the private sector. In the public sector, there might be no room to negotiate whatsoever.
Working in Finland
Our tutorial “Working in Finland” tells you more about regulations governing Finnish working life. In it, you’ll learn more about salaries and collective agreements. You’ll also learn about employment contracts and working hours. Both of which we have also very briefly covered in previous blog posts.
Our tutorial is extensive. It takes you through the entire employment relationship from the content of employment contracts to resignations and terminations. The tutorial is suitable for anyone who is thinking about working in Finland, is currently employed in Finland, and for those aiming for supervisory positions in Finland.
This is your ultimate guide to rules governing Finnish employment relationships. Get it from our online store!
Edited for content August 5, 2020.
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