Restaurant operator in Hämeenlinna fined for organising unpaid traineeship
The District Court of Hämeenlinna sentenced a restaurant operator to 40 day-fines for exploitative employment discrimination.
In August 2016 a restaurant operator in Hämeenlinna took on an asylum seeker for an unpaid traineeship. Two separate contracts were made between the parties for the traineeship, one of them also signed by a representative of the reception centre. The traineeship contracts covered a total period of around three months. After that the parties had concluded an employment contract lasting till the end of January 2017.
The District Court gave its judgment on 5 December 2019, finding that the employee had not been paid at all during the traineeship even though he should have been. The employer had offered the employee meals at work and a bus pass.
The District Court found that as regards the payment of wages the employer had placed the employee at a considerable disadvantage due to his ethnic origin or nationality. The employer had furthermore exploited the employee’s financial vulnerability, dependent status, lack of understanding and ignorance of Finnish legislation and employees’ rights. The court found that the employer was therefore guilty of exploitative employment discrimination, which is forbidden in criminal law.
The District Court stated that it is not permitted to derogate from the wage payment provisions in the collective agreement to the detriment of the employee. The District Court did not consider it credible that the employer did not know this. The District Court also saw no relevance in considering that by signing the traineeship contract the representative of the reception centre had consented to a traineeship without pay.
PAM’s lawyer Suvi Vilches considers it important that action is taken on illegal unpaid traineeships.
"This sort of unpaid traineeship can never be accepted. Under the law an employer and an employee can never agree an unpaid traineeship between them. If it is an educational traineeship, then the official educational institution or TE Office must always be involved ", Vilches says.
Employees, be vigilant!
Unpaid traineeships are offered both to persons who come to Finland to work from other countries and to young and unemployed Finns.
If you are offered a traineeship, remember to check that it is legitimate. If it appears that the employer is using a traineeship as a cover for getting normal work done, you are entitled to be paid for the work you have already done.
SAK’s advisory service for immigrants helps person who have come to Finland to work and are not members of Finnish trade unions. You can also call the service anonymously.
The advisory service for immigrants is open Monday to Thursday from 9–11 a.m. and 12–3 p.m. The phone number is 0800 414 004. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are unpaid trainees at your workplace without proper contracts, it is advisable to contact your union or the local Regional State Administrative Agency labour inspectorate.