Change negotiations to be held in the future
Chapters 6 and 8 of the current Act will be merged to form Chapter 3 of the new Act, which concerns change negotiations. According to Chapter 3, Section 16 of the Act, the scope of change negotiations would include terminations, lay-offs, the reduction of a contract to a part-time contract, and any unilateral changes made to an employment contract’s essential conditions, provided that these decisions are based on financial or production-related grounds.
If an essential condition is changed unilaterally, this means that the change is made based on a reason that could also constitute grounds for dismissal.
Other matters falling within the scope of change negotiations include any essential changes made to duties, working methods and the arrangement of work, work premises and regular working hours, provided that these changes are within the scope of the employer’s power of management, they affect the position of one or more employees, and they are based on reasons listed in Section 16 of the Co-operation Act.
No changes will be made to the time requirements of the negotiations, and the negotiation proposal and the content of the negotiations will remain largely the same as before. The timing of the negotiations is discussed extensively in the commentary regarding the Act – the negotiations should take place at the right time, i.e. when the employer is considering measures leading to reductions. Consideration means that the employer is able to identify the measure and the associated personnel consequences so that they can draw up a negotiation proposal and negotiate the matter.
Prior to the negotiations, this consideration cannot progress so far that it would prevent further changes to be made to the plan.
The change negotiations shall be conducted between the employer and the employee representative. If there is no employee representative, the negotiations shall be held between the employer and the employees affected by the negotiations. If a measure considered by the employer concerns an individual employee, the negotiations can also be conducted between the employer and the employee in question.
It is worth noting, however, that in such a situation the employee has the right to demand the matter to be negotiated in the presence of the employee representative, or between the employer and the employee representative.
The employee representative has the right to submit written proposals and alternative solutions to be discussed in the change negotiations. These proposals must be submitted well in advance of the meeting.
If the employer does not consider the proposal(s) to be appropriate or feasible, the employer must state the reasons for this in writing during the negotiations. These employer arguments should be recorded, for example, in the minutes of the meeting, and they may be accompanied by the proposal made by the employee representative. The employer must make sure that the minutes of the meeting are drawn up if requested to do so.
The employees have the right to participate in the proceedings
The third entity in the reform of the Co-operation Act deals with taking the provisions from the Act on Personnel Representation in Company Administration and making them part of the new Act on Co-operation within Undertakings. These regulations are applied if the company employs at least 150 people in Finland.
Employees have the right to participate in the proceedings of the employer’s decision-making, executive, supervisory or advisory bodies as they discuss important issues concerning the employer’s business and finances and the status of employees. Employee representation should be primarily agreed upon between the employer and the employees.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, it will be carried out in accordance with the legislation at the request of the employees. Even if an agreement is reached, the representation must take place in a body that factually discusses important questions related to business, finances and the status of employees. The agreement must be drawn up in writing.
In statutory representation, at the request of at least two personnel groups that together represent the majority of the employees, the employees have the right to appoint their representatives and deputy representatives, according to the employer’s choice, to the supervisory board, board of directors, executive groups or equivalent bodies of the employer that represent all of the employer’s business units.
The employee representative shall otherwise have the same rights, duties and responsibilities as the other members, but they shall not take part in matters concerning the election, dismissal and terms of contract of the company’s management, nor in matters related to the employees’ terms of employment or industrial action. The employee representative has the right to receive training in order to perform their duties.
Read more: What happens in yt-neuvottelut (cooperation negotiations)?