Flexible working hours -alasivu - Yleistä - UUSI laki

Employees’ regular working hours can also be flexible. Flexible working hours allow employees to choose, within certain limits, the start and end times of their workdays themselves. Employees can also be permitted to take their daily breaks flexibly.

Rules governing flexible working hours

Flexible working hours must always be agreed between the employer and the employee, ideally in writing. A written agreement concerning flexible working hours that specifies the rules according to which an employee’s hours are to be worked also acts as the employee’s work schedule.

In addition to the employee’s regular working hours, the employee and the employer must agree on

  • an uninterrupted period of fixed working hours each day
  • the daily limits to flexibility and the “bandwidth” period within which all required hours must be worked
  • the timings of the employee’s rest periods, and
  • the maximum hours by which regular working hours can be exceeded and the minimum hours that have to be worked (“the flexible hours accumulation”).

Flexible working hours schemes that are in force indefinitely can be terminated at any time so that the employee will revert back to regular working hours at the end of the reference period during which notice is given. Fixed-term schemes of more than one year can be terminated after the first four months in the same way as schemes that are in force indefinitely.

What does agreeing on fixed working hours mean?

An employee’s fixed working hours are the core hours during which they must be at work each day. The core period must be one continuous period. 

An employee’s fixed working hours should ideally be those hours of the day during which their presence at the workplace is necessary to ensure an uninterrupted flow of work. This can mean, for example, the hours during which staff meetings are held or the customer service desk is open.

What is the flexible period?

The Working Hours Act limits the length of the flexible period to four hours per day. The statutory maximum length of the flexible period can only be derogated from by collective agreements.

Employees can choose to work the entire flexible period either before the start or after the end of their fixed working hours. Employees can also split their flexible period and work some of it before the start of their fixed working hours and the rest at the end of the day. Alternatively, the entire workday can be split in two by leaving a gap between the fixed working hours and the flexible period. For example, an employee can be given permission to use some of their flexible period between the hours of 8.00 and 10.00 pm instead of immediately after the end of their fixed working hours.  Employees can use the flexible period to either lengthen or shorten their regular daily working hours.

What is the flexible hours accumulation?

By working longer or shorter days, employees accumulate either a surplus or a deficit on their regular working hours. This accumulation must not amount to a surplus of more than 60 hours or a deficit of more than 20 hours at the end of each four-month reference period. These maximum surpluses and deficits can only be derogated from by collective agreements.

What is a reference period?

The weekly regular working hours of employees working flexible hours must average out at no more than 40 hours during each four-month reference period. Employees on flexible working hours can choose to work either more or less hours than the average each day within the limits set for the scheme. They can also, for example, accumulate a surplus of more than 60 hours, as long as they bring the total accumulation to within their 60-hour surplus allowance by the end of the reference period. 

Employers can agree to let their employees lower their surplus accumulation by taking individual hours or days off work.

Employees should ideally have a way of tracking their flexible working hours accumulation in real time in order to be able to regulate their working hours and accumulation. In practice, introducing a flexible working hours scheme also requires the employer to invest in an electronic working hours monitoring system.

Flexible working hours -alasivu - Työntekijälle - UUSI laki


Instructions for employee

Flexible working hours accumulations

If you work flexible hours, it is your responsibility to ensure that you do not exceed your maximum accumulation allowances. For example, if the maximum surplus of hours that you are allowed to accumulate has been set at 60 hours, it is your duty to make sure that you stay within your allowance during each reference period.

If you reach your accumulation allowance before the end of the reference period and you still need to work longer days, talk to your employer about the possibility of working overtime.

For more information on the accumulation of overtime in the case of employees on flexible working hours, see the page Additional work and overtime.