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työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö

Contracts of employment and employment relationships

telakkaThe principle of protection of the employee lies at the heart of employment legislation. As a result, there are legal provisions contained in employment legislation which are absolute and to which no exceptions can be made under agreements to the detriment of the employee.


The main laws which apply to an individual’s employment relationship are the Employment Contracts Act, Working Hours Act, Annual Holidays Act, Study Leave Act and Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life. The Employment Contracts Act is the basic Finnish law governing employment. It applies to work in both the private and public sector, whatever kind of work it is.


For the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act and other employment legislation to apply, an employee needs to be working for an employer under his direction and supervision, i.e. in an employment relationship, and not, for example, as an entrepreneur. Young employees are also covered under the provisions of the Young Workers Act. The employment relationships of seamen are provided under legislation on employment at sea. There is also special legislation concerning the employment relationships of workers posted to Finland and household workers as well as the employment security of person entering military service.


Finnish Labour Legislation and Industrial Relations, brochure, 2012Employment Contracts Act, brochure, 2014Guidebook for Temporary Agency Work, 2013

Page last updated: 22.01.2015

Further information

Guidance and supervision of  labour legislation:

Occupational Safety and Health Admininstration (Osha), in English/Eesti keeles/По-русски


Susanna Siitonen,

tel. +358 29 504 8932


Temporary agency work,

fixed-term contracts:

Jan Hjelt, tel. +358 29 504 8940

Call charges