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New Working Hours Act afoot to meet the requirements of modern working life


The current Working Hours Act of 1996 is intended to be replaced by a completely new act. The aim of this overall reform is to update Finnish working hours regulations to meet the requirements of modern working life and to benefit from new technologies that enable working without strict ties to a certain place or time.

The proposed act (Government Bill 158/2018) includes the familiar principles of regulating working hours but aims to add more flexibility to different working time arrangements. The main novelty of the new act is flexible working time that could be used in work that is not tied with any particular time and place. With this arrangement, the employee could decide his own working hours and place of work, whereas the employer would define the tasks, goals, and overall schedule.

The new Working Hours Act would also enable agreeing on working time banking in all work places and add working time flexibility for employees in flexitime arrangements. The employer and the employee would also have wider rights to agree on the arrangements of average working hours, and specifications would be introduced to periodic work and regular night work. In addition, the act would include regulations on maximum working time and minimum rest time based on the Working Hours Directive (2003/88/EY).

Generally, the coverage of the act would be specified in regard to employees who are in managerial positions or may otherwise decide their working hours. The Working Hours Act will also in future remain peremptory, but wide exceptions from it may be made in collective agreements.

The new act is intended to enter into force in the beginning of 2020, so companies operating in Finland still have some time to evaluate their needs for flexibility in their working hours arrangements and to prepare for the reform.

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