Picking of natural products - Yleistä

Blueberries.These pages contain information about the law on foreign berry pickers and the rights and obligations of different parties. The Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products (so-called Berry Act) applies to berry pickers who are not in an employment relationship and for whom the berry company organises e.g. accommodation and catering. The Act also applies to picking mushrooms and other natural products.

Guide: Wild berry picker’s rights (Thai and English) 
คู่มือ: สิทธิของคนเก็บเบอร์รีป่า (ภาษาไทยและภาษาอังกฤษ)

The picker's rights are described on the page The rights of the picker. The rights and obligations of berry companies and other operators in the natural products sector are described on the page Obligations of the natural product collection sector operator. This page describes the backgrounds, scope of application and the roles of different authorities.

For more information on the status of employed berry pickers, see Seasonal agricultural work and berry picking.

The Berry Act, i.e. the Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products

Under everyman's rights, foreign nationals picking natural products are subject to the so-called Berry Act, i.e. the Act on the Legal Status of Foreigners picking natural products (487/2021). The Act is completely new and entered into force on 14 June 2021. The objective of the Act is to improve the legal status of foreigners who are in Finland collecting natural products and to equalise the competitive opportunities of companies operating in the natural products sector.

The occupational safety and health authority supervises compliance with the Berry Act to the extent which is not the responsibility of another competent authority. For example, the municipal health protection authority is responsible for supervising accommodation and the police for supervising the right of berry pickers to stay in the country.

Before the Berry Act, the status of foreign berry pickers was largely unregulated in legislation, because their position was not considered that of an employee. Instead, they were seen as a type of entrepreneur. In 2014–2020, the letter of intent procedure for the picking of natural products applied between the authorities and companies in the natural product collection sector.

Scope of application of the Act and operators in the natural product collection sector

The Act applies to foreigners who collect natural products while e.g. the accommodation and catering are provided by an operator in the natural product picking sector. The Act does not apply to workers on berry farms who pick natural products in their free time.

The Act applies to two types of natural product collection sector operators (later in the text "operator"):

  • an operator who has invited a picker to Finland
  • an operator who arranges accommodation and catering for pickers in Finland with the purpose of purchasing natural products from them.

The Act applies to natural products referred to in section 89 of the Income Tax Act, the picking of which is permitted under everyman's rights without the consent of the landowner. Natural products in the Income Tax Act refer to wild berries, mushrooms and cones, as well as wild plants or parts thereof collected for human consumption, medicine or the manufacture of a medicinal product. The income received by the picker as a result of the supply of these products is not taxable income unless it is to be considered as a salary.

The Act on the legal status of foreigners collecting natural products does not contain provisions on the entry, residence or right to work of foreigners. The Schengen visa rules and the provisions of the Aliens Act (301/2004) are applied.

In some cases, the picking of natural products may meet the criteria of an employment relationship. Provisions on the characteristics of an employment relationship are laid down in Chapter 1, section 1, subsection 1 of the Employment Contracts Act. You are in an employment relationship if the work is carried out on behalf of the employer on the basis of a contract, under the supervision of the employer, for remuneration or other consideration. If these criteria are met, labour legislation and employer obligations are applied to the collector and the operator, and not the Berry Act described here. Read more on the page Characteristics of an employment relationship.

For more information on employment in picking natural products, see Seasonal agricultural work and berry picking.

TE Office assesses the reliability of the operator

The operator must be reliable. An operator who is not reliable cannot act as a natural product collection operator within the meaning laid down in the Act and invite pickers to Finland or provide accommodation and collection equipment to them for the purpose of buying natural products from them.

The TE Office assesses whether the operator is reliable in the manner referred to in the Act. The assessment of reliability depends on whether the operator has complied with provisions of the Act in their business activities. In addition, it is ensured that the operator has properly managed taxes and other statutory payments and that the operator has the financial capacity to operate. The evaluation shall be made at the request of the operator for one year at a time. For more information, see the TE Office website.

The operator must keep the documents and provide them to the authority upon request

Notwithstanding secrecy provisions, the occupational safety and health authority has the right to obtain from the operator information and documents that are necessary for the performance of the monitoring and supervision laid down in this Act. 

The operator must keep the information related to the fulfilment of the obligations laid down in this Act in such a way that these can be easily checked by the occupational safety and health authority if necessary. The operator must keep the data for a period of two years from the end of the year of collection.

The contact authority advises pickers and operators

The Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland's Division of Occupational Safety and Health is the contact authority for the Berry Act. It provides general advice on the applicable legislation and if necessary, provides information on how to contact the correct authority. Advice is provided to pickers and natural product collection sector operators.

Please send any question you may have to [email protected].

Note! The occupational safety and health authority does not provide employment services in the natural products sector or any other sector. If you want to apply for a seasonal job or other vacancies, you can find available vacancies at Job Market Finland by TE Services. The picking of natural products is not usually done in an employment relationship, so picking work is not offered at Job Market Finland. Make an agreement on picking work directly with a berry company.

Natural produce picking - Muualla Tyosuojelu.fissä