New Working Hours Act comes into force on 1 January 2020. The way the law affects working in service sectors will be decided by collective agreements.
Photo: Eeva Anundi
Protection of employees’ working hours remains a strong feature of the new law. The new law will come into force on 1 January 2020. In many ways, however, it will only start to affect workers when collective agreements run out, because transitional rule has been built into the law.
For service sectors, the transitional rule in the Working Hours Act means that the conditions on working hours in the collective agreements for the sector will apply as long as the agreement is in force. So even though there is a new Working Hours Act, service sector working hours will be in accordance with the earlier conditions and agreements until the agreements expire. For example, the retail sector collective agreement and the collective agreement for employees in the facility services sector expire at the end of January 2020. In the hospitality services sector the agreement period ends on 31 March 2020.
New collective agreements will be negotiated for PAM sectors in the upcoming negotiating round. Elements to be put into these have been collected from workplaces over the autumn and worked on based on suggestions from the branches. Union membership means that all PAM members have a big role and influence in creating and applying their collective agreement. The new collective agreements will take account of the changes in the Working Hours Act. Within the bounds of the law, it will also be possible to agree on modifications.
“The new law also gives plenty of scope to diverge from the rules by agreeing nationwide collective agreements”, says Sirpa Leppäkangas, PAM’s expert on working time and pay systems, in commenting on the Working Hours Act from the perspective of service sectors.
“When making collective agreements you can examine the specific features of each sector to try and find the solution that works best. When it comes to working time, it’s also important to remember that what works for one sector may not work as well or as fairly for all sectors. When agreeing working hours we always focus on employees’ well-being and ability to cope”, Leppäkangas summarises.
The new law provides more flexibility for individual employees. As well as broader rules on flextime, there are rules on working hours accounts and so-called flexible hours. In terms of employee well-being, important elements include clarifications on daily rest and limiting the number of consecutive night shifts in rotating shift work to five.
The new Working Hours Act also introduces an obligation to check maximum working hours. Currently monitoring of maximum working hours is done via overtime quotas, but in future all hours worked will be monitored, i.e. regular working hours plus extra hours, overtime and also emergency work. This total working time may not exceed 48 hours a week on average over a four-month adjustment period, unless a longer review period is agreed in the collective agreement for the sector.
“Parliament is also currently considering putting rules on nighttime transport in the Working Hours Act. Nighttime transport means an employer’s obligation to provide transport for employees doing night work, if there is not adequate nighttime public transport in the locality and the employee does not have the use of a private car. Nighttime transport is very important for the safety of employees in PAM sectors and their ability to accept work”, Leppäkangas sums up.