PAM wants working time protection for part-time workers in the Working Hours Act
In the retail sector, for example, part-time employees often work more at difficult times than full-time employees. Photo: iStockphoto
The proposal for a new Working Hours Act is satisfactory, but is very much based on the needs of employers and full-time employees, PAM states in its opinion. Expert Sirpa Leppäkangas would like to see more attention being paid to the well-being of part-time workers and enabling them to plan their lives.
The government’s proposal for a new Working Hours Act is currently being considered by the Finnish Parliament’s Employment and Equality Committee, and PAM’s expert on working time and remuneration systems, Sirpa Leppäkangas, was consulted by the committee today Thursday. She considers the draft law in its current form satisfactory: there are no major problems, but for example PAM would like to see improvements to the position of part-time employees.
“The preamble of the law does refer to working time protection for part-time employees, but the draft law does not contain any changes to address the problems”, as Leppäkangas summarises it. She points out that statistically speaking part-time work in Finland is done more based on the employer’s needs than in the other Nordic countries, for example.
According to Leppäkangas, one example is the right to extra hours, meaning part-time employees having the possibility to plan their own lives and not just getting working shifts at difficult times. At present part-time employees are working at so-called anti-social times more often than full-time employees.
According to Leppäkangas, it would also be important to make sure that people doing more than one job can cope, especially since the number of employees of this type is increasing in Finland – and according to PAM’s survey this year this includes PAM members. They have not been taken into account in the draft law.
“This is a change that shows that more and more employees are not getting enough working hours to live on from one job”, Leppäkangas states.
“These people are constantly having to juggle working shifts and the rest of their lives, and they are having to do this in their spare time”, she adds.
In PAM’s opinion one important way to improve working time protection for part-time workers would be to have fixed working time written into legislation. Then the hours in labour contracts would be more in line with actual work requirements and part-time employees would be in a better position to get full-time work if they want.
In its opinion to the committee, PAM also points out that the draft law risks discriminating between persons doing part-time work under different conditions. Persons on zero-hours contracts and on-call employees – the law currently refers to these as variable working time contracts – are protected in that they cannot be required to give permanent, one-off consent to extra hours. Other part-time workers do not have this protection, so in the worst case they must be constantly at the ready to go to work, even in their spare time, and at short notice. This also makes it difficult for them to accept extra hours from other employers. In PAM’s opinion the same principle should apply to all part-time employees.
PAM also finds no grounds for the proposal that employers would be freer to get employees to do temporary night work. Employers would also no longer be required to provide transport from or to work at night time. In PAM’s opinion this should be put back into the draft law.
PAM also supports the opinion of its central organisation, SAK, on the draft Working Hours Act that the reforms and flexibility in the draft are very much based on employers’ needs only. In SAK’s opinion the draft does not sufficiently explain what are the changes in work and society that require a further increase in flexibility and irregularity, since it is known for example that shift and night work are a health risk for employees.
You can read PAM’s opinion in Finnish on the union’s website (pdf file).