Finnish employees generally follow an eight-hour working day, or the equivalent of 40 hours per week. Overtime is paid at time-and-a-half. Private sector workers can refuse to do overtime but some public sector employees, such as the emergency services, are compelled to work extra if required. Increased pay is expected for night shift workers (11pm-6am) and Sunday shifts are usually paid at double time. Finland has one of the highest numbers of women in the workplace in the EU, with 73% in jobs compared to an EU average of 57%.
There is a strong emphasis on family life in Finland and as a result there are many public holidays available for almost all workers. Employees accrue two days of annual leave for each month of full-time work and most time off is taken at the end of June to coincide with the summer holidays. The majority of firms also close completely for at least a week over Christmas. Therefore, arrangements for business meetings should be avoided in mid-summer or at Christmas.
There are 13 public holidays in Finland. There are also up to eight more seasonal holidays which different regions observe, including the March Equinox and the December Solstice.
Public holiday dates 2017
New Year’s Day: 1st January
Epiphany: 6th January
Good Friday: 14th April
Easter Monday: 17th April
Vappu (May Day): 1st May
Ascension Day: 25th May
Midsummer Eve: 24th June
Midsummer Day: 25th June
All Saints Day: 4th November
Independence Day: 6th December
Christmas Eve: 24th December
Christmas Day: 25th December
Second Day of Christmas: 26th December
Visas and eligibility
Expats who are employed by a company will usually need a residence permit which is based on gaining employment in Finland. Despite Finland being a Schengen country, whereby freedom of movement between borders is eased, workers will require a permit or visa granted by the Finnish government to stay in the country longer than 90 days. Nationals from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland do not require a residence permit and are classed as ‘equivalent persons’. You may also be entitled to a permit if you have completed a degree or recognised qualification from a university in Finland. It is worth noting that the employment office in Finland gives priority to EU citizens or ‘equivalent persons.’ For more information, visit the Finnish Immigration Service.
Finland operates a progressive tax system, meaning that the wealthier pay more. Tax is controlled by the state, municipalities and the country’s two official churches, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Finnish Orthodox Church. The Finnish Tax Administration is responsible for tax collection before distribution. All tax is automatically deducted and is generally around 35% of your pay.
Despite cuts to the Finnish welfare budget in recent years, the benefits system is still considered one of the most comprehensive in the world. Since 2015, the Finnish government has considered a radical overhaul of the system with one proposal being that the welfare state is replaced with an allowance of 800 Euros given to each citizen every month. Currently, the benefits system in Finland is covered by residence-based and earnings-based social security. Residence-based is funded through taxes and distributed by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). To find out if you are eligible, expats must register with their local Kela office.
High taxation means Finland has one of the world’s most generous welfare systems. The Finnish philosophy is that citizens should expect good living conditions and should be provided for in retirement. The actual age of retirement is flexible in Finland but you must be 65 to qualify for the state pension. Most private pensions are provided for between the ages of 63-68. The amount retirees are entitled to depends on the amount of time spent in Finland. Anything less than 80% of a person’s life spent in Finland will result in a reduction in state pension received. An earnings-related pension is normally 1.5% of an annual salary but this rises with the age of the worker. Pensions, which are protected under the Employees Pensions Act, are privately arranged contracts made through a pension insurance fund or pension insurance company.
Finnish law forbids discrimination against disabled people. The 300 or so municipalities are responsible for organising services for disabled people which are funded through income tax. Services include transport and assistance where required and people with residence permits are entitled to use disabled services. Finland has many organisations which protect the rights of disabled people, the most notable being the National Council on Disability and Hilma, the Support Centre for Immigrant Persons with Disabilities.