Murupolku - mediatiedote ja verkkouutinen

Enforcement of the use of foreign labour brings shortcomings in pay and working hours to light

Publication date 11.4.2024 9.07 | Published in English on 15.4.2024 at 11.01
Press release

In 2023, the occupational safety and health authority carried out more than 2,200 inspections of companies using foreign labour. There were many shortcomings in the minimum terms of employment, such as pay and compliance with working hours. Disguising an employment relationship as so-called light entrepreneurship expanded from the construction and service sectors to industry and the forest sector. Based on observations made during enforcement, there were also significant shortcomings in compliance with the Berry Act, which contains provisions on the rights of berry pickers. This information is available in the recent report Enforcement of the use of foreign labour in 2023. 

Deficiencies in pay, working time records and the right to work

The inspections mainly assessed whether the minimum terms of employment of foreign workers are met and whether employers have ascertained whether their foreign employees have the right to work in Finland.

"In recent years, the occupational safety and health authority has sought to strengthen its role in detecting and combating labour exploitation. For this reason, an effort was made to target an increasing number of the inspections specifically at the enforcement of minimum terms of employment, i.e. pay and working hours", says Senior Officer Katja-Pia Jenu from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health at the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland. 

As in previous years, there were still many shortcomings in compliance with minimum terms. Deficiencies in pay were observed in almost half of inspections in which this issue was assessed. The share remained the same as in 2022. There issues with pay both in the amount of basic pay and in the payment of various bonuses and overtime pay. 

A large number of deficiencies in working hour records were also identified. It was often difficult to assess the correctness of pay when actual hours worked could not be determined during enforcement due to neglect of obligations concerning working hour records.

Around one-in-ten of the inspections concerning the right to work involved at least one foreign employee who did not have the right to work in Finland. This figure decreased slightly from 2022. 

Masking of employment relationships as light entrepreneurship expanded to industry and the forest sector

Enforcement increasingly revealed situations where an employment relationship had been disguised as entrepreneurial work or so-called light entrepreneurship. Occasionally, the employment relationship had been changed into a commission agreement with terms similar to their employment contract without the employee understanding the difference. This phenomenon was previously particularly visible in the construction and service sectors, but it has also expanded to industry and the forest sector.

There were a large amount of shortcomings at berry pickers' bases

The so-called Berry Act (Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products (487/2021)) was now enforced for the third year. Non-compliance with the Berry Act were observed in practically all inspections carried out at pickers’ bases, and the number of imposed obligations was substantial.

Cooperation with authorities and stakeholders is useful

Cooperation with authorities improved the effectiveness of supervision in many ways. Over 500 inspections were carried out together with other authorities, which was almost 70 inspections more than in 2022. In addition, data from other authorities was used on hundreds of inspection. Inspections were also carried out on the basis of tips from employee organisations and citizens.

The occupational safety and health authority also strives to prevent labour exploitation through communication and close stakeholder cooperation. In 2023, more multilingual communication was carried out both independently and in cooperation with stakeholders. The target group included foreign-language speakers such as employees and jobseekers, Thai forest berry pickers and light entrepreneurs.

Click below to read the report in Finnish: Ulkomaisen työvoiman käytön valvonta vuonna 2023 (PDF).

The report is in Finnish and will also be published in Swedish and English later. The English version of the report will be published in the website on the Publications  page.

Senior Officer Katja-Pia Jenu, tel. +358 295 016 258, [email protected]
Inspector Virve Leskinen, tel. +358 295 018 159, [email protected]

Employment relationship Occupational Safety and Health